While remote working has been a steadily growing trend the world over, it was the pandemic that tipped the scale and drove businesses to enforce remote work arrangements en masse. This shift happened abruptly, and in most cases, organizations had very little time to plan.
Employees who had never worked from home before were the most severely impacted by this change, and even after several months since the majority of companies adopted remote working, some still haven’t completely adjusted to this lifestyle.
If you’re part of this demographic of remote workers struggling to achieve peak productivity and maintain good mental health, the following tips can help.
1. Create a dedicated workspace
The best way to get into the zone is to literally create one. Choose a place separate from your living area, like a spare room or a corner of your bedroom, where you can work in peace. Doing so allows you to compartmentalize your professional life and your personal life. What’s more, the act of going to your workspace mimics the act of going to the office, and it signals the brain to switch to work mode.
Choose a well-lit spot for your workspace to avoid eye strain, and if possible, use ergonomic furniture to prevent muscle ache and fatigue.
2. Establish a routine
Prior to the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders, you probably followed a strict repertoire before going to the office. This may have involved taking a shower, getting dressed, drinking coffee, or reading the morning paper. But now that you don’t have to dress up and travel to work, you may have ditched that routine — perhaps in favor of staying in bed longer.
Abandoning routines that no longer work is perfectly fine, but you should replace them with a new set of activities to go through before clocking in for the day. Routines can give you a sense of control, especially during stressful and uncertain times. They also provide structure to your day and help improve your focus and organization.
3. Work around your energy levels
Productivity peaks vary per individual: some work best in the wee hours of the morning, and some prefer the quiet calm of late evenings. Observe which part of the day you’re most energized, and schedule your most challenging tasks during that period.
Conversely, time your breaks so that they coincide with the hours when your energy is low. According to research, the least productive time of the day is 2:55 PM, when post-lunch lethargy kicks in. Even if you keep working during this time, you won’t be as productive, so it’s better to rest and come back when your energy is recharged.
4. Reach out to your colleagues
Working remotely doesn’t have to mean working alone. Your colleagues are also experiencing similar feelings of isolation and detachment, so check in on them regularly. Host a game night on Zoom, or have icebreaker games before team meetings. Being reminded that you’re part of a group of people working toward the same goals can motivate you and give you a more positive outlook.
5. Take breaks
When scheduled strategically, breaks can improve work performance and reduce work-related stress and fatigue. So don’t be afraid that your productivity will dip if you stretch your muscles, grab a snack, or close your eyes for a bit. It’s better to stop working for a few minutes and come back feeling refreshed than to keep working at below-optimum productivity.
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