If you suddenly find yourself working from home full time, you might be wondering exactly how to manage your time and keep the balance between work and home life. Avoiding bad behaviors that can impact both your productivity and mental health will be key for staying in your manager’s good graces — and for your own sanity.
Here are five remote work habits that workers need to break.
1. Feeding into distractions
When you suddenly find yourself working in the same environment where you also do laundry, watch TV, and sleep, it can be a struggle to stay motivated and focused on the task at hand. Even if you don’t have coworkers stopping by your desk or office to chat, it’s easy to get distracted by a sink full of dishes that you suddenly feel an urge to wash, or getting sucked into distracting email or message exchanges.
Learn to avoid disruptions and distractions by setting aside time for heads-down work — that means closing down your email, silencing chat notifications and texts, and staying at your workstation. Believe me, the contents of your refrigerator are the same as the last time you checked.
2. Avoiding setting a schedule
Working from home often offers more scheduling flexibility — but that doesn’t mean scheduling your day should go out the window. Keeping consistent work hours is key, even if those hours aren’t the typical 9-to-5. Block off time to take breaks, run errands, get some exercise, and take care of family if you need to. This will not only help you stay on track, but help any others in your house (like your spouse, kids or roommates) understand when it’s OK to disturb you, and when you need to stay focused.
It’s also important to prioritize what work needs to get done each day, so you have set goals in mind. As long as you’re getting your work done and your coworkers know when you’re available, many jobs are willing to give you the flexibility you need.
3. Trying to over-multitask
Working from home still requires a focus on work. It’s nearly impossible to take care of kids and do work at the same time — if you think you can, you’re probably not doing either as well as you could be. It may be difficult, especially right now, to strike a balance between child or family care and your job, but make sure you’re communicating with your manager about your scheduling needs, and then sticking to that schedule as best you can.
4. Not creating a dedicated work space
No matter if you live in a studio apartment or a 5-bedroom home, you need to set aside a particular space that is only for work. It can be as simple as setting up a desk, or clearing some space at your kitchen table. This will help you get into the right mindset to concentrate, and will also signal to others in your home that you’re in work mode.
5. Underestimating face-to-face communication
With all of the technologies available, it’s easy to communicate with coworkers even when you aren’t in the office. But sending off a quick email or message can’t ever fully replace talking face-to-face. Even if video chatting isn’t perfect, setting aside time to connect with colleagues in that way can make a world of difference in managing relationships and just staying connected on a more personal level. And don’t worry if you’re not comfortable being on video, The first few times are the hardest. But once you get used to seeing yourself on screen, you won’t think twice about it.
It’s also key to make efforts to stay connected to everyone on your team, so no one feels out of the loop. Holding frequent informal video chats over coffee can be a great way to team build and connect, even if just for a few minutes. Plus, who doesn’t love seeing someone’s dog or kid pop onto the screen?
Bottom line? Working from home doesn’t have to be a drag. Keep up your schedule — and your boundaries — and keep yourself healthy.