Those working from home, which is 26% of U.S. employees, have likely experienced some benefits and some drawbacks since they started doing so two or three years ago. First, let’s start with the pros.
As long as the work is done and results are strong, many remote jobs also offer flexible schedules, which means workers can start and end their day as they please. In terms of managing your personal life, this control can be invaluable.
Additionally, a FlexJobs 2020 survey found that working remotely actually led to higher productivity among workers who thought they might be more productive from home. It has also been shown that workers who work from home are happier and more loyal employees. Why? Partly because of the lower stress levels, the more time they have for hobbies and interests, and the improvement of their personal relationships.
If that isn’t enough — you’re able to customize your workspace however you want. And you can save both time and money by no longer commuting.
At the same time, working remotely comes with its fair share of drawbacks as well. Most notably, there’s a lack of social interaction with colleagues and customers. Additionally, there are communication gaps that can bottleneck collaboration. It can also be challenging to stay motivated and meet your goals if there is no active supervision and no one is working around you.
Worst of all? It’s incredibly easy to get into a rut when working remotely. However, you can get out of this funk by changing up your routine.
1. Review your calendar. Then review it again.
When you don’t have to commute, you can use your morning more effectively. You could, for example, read your email and to-do list while having coffee and breakfast instead of riding the subway or driving to work.
Moreover, it is imperative that you review your calendar every week at the beginning of the week. Personally, I prefer Friday of the week before. Identify meetings that you need to attend and schedule any action items and preparations you need to do. Schedule time to make them happen if they’re important.
Review it again. Every morning.
I do this first thing in the morning. After all, things tend to change overnight. Additionally, I’m going to take a peek at tomorrow about 30 minutes before I finish scanning my Calendar. This will enable me to see what I managed to accomplish, as well as what I didn’t.
This might seem excessive. It’s possible, though, that what was important on Monday could be different by Wednesday. Sometimes you forget a meeting without a colleague reminding you or get distracted by home chores. In many instances, I’ve avoided disaster by taking a moment to reflect at the start of the day.
2. Change which days are “workdays.”
Think about working on Saturdays and taking Wednesdays off if the ‘five days on, two days off’ routine becomes monotonous. You may be able to get yourself out of your rut this way. As an alternative, if you must work from home constantly, consider working only Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Routines like ‘two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off’ are beneficial to many.
Yeah, that’s one less day at work. However, according to Parkinson’s Law, “work expands to fill the available time for its completion.” It’s pretty unlikely that you will lose any productivity by working one fewer day a week. The only way to know if it works, though, is to try it.
3. Get out of your home office.
There is no doubt that your home office is only a few feet away from your comfortable, warm, cozy bed and a few steps from the refrigerator. It’s exactly for this reason that you should make an effort to work outside your home office more often.
For example, consider working from a local coffee shop. It’s an obvious choice. However, it’s not uncommon to find remote workers, freelancers, casual coffee drinkers, and book lovers in coffee shops.
You can incorporate social interaction into your work-from-home routine rather than feeling isolated.
It is possible to talk with the barista and immerse yourself among other workers at the cafe. There is also evidence that coffee shops increase concentration and productivity.
According to the Association for Psychological Science, “… participants exert more mental effort when the person next to them [is] doing so… Simply performing a task next to a person who exerts a lot of effort in a task will make you do the same.”
However, you do not have to limit yourself to coffee shops. There are many great places to work, including libraries, community centers, co-working spaces, and restaurants.
Ideally, you should choose a location that works for you and your concentration levels.
As an example, libraries are suitable for benchmarks if you need peace and quiet. If you’re more productive in a lively environment and with people around you, try a local restaurant.
4. Get a head start (for early risers).
Take advantage of being a morning bird if you are not required to be online at a specific time. In order to get a head start, you’ll need to get up around 7 a.m.-8 a.m. and clock in.
How does clocking in early benefit you?
Well, you get off work earlier. Plus, there aren’t as many distractions.
When you clock in at 7 a.m., you’ll be off at 3 p.m. for an average work week of 40 hours. So what do you do now? After an early morning start, you have the rest of the day to accomplish unfinished tasks, run errands, spend time with your kids, or engage in self-care.
5. If you’re a night owl, get a late start.
Maybe getting started later would be a better option for you if you hate mornings since you’re a night owl.
In the morning, sleep in, finish some tasks during the day, and begin working in the afternoon. Keep this schedule in mind, but don’t make it your daily routine. Rather, sleep or change your pace when you need it.
And be careful not to start too late; otherwise, you’ll work all night long.
6. Make a style change.
You can definitely work in yoga pants and a T-shirt instead of stuffy business suits. The thing is, dressing sloppy at home can negatively affect the work you produce. “In some ways, the clothes that you wear might have an even bigger impact because we can often see ourselves and what we’re wearing, and that sort of draws that symbolic value [attached] to it even closer to our consciousness,” says Dr. Adam Galinsky, Co-author of pre-pandemic research on “enclothed cognition.”
In short, before you begin your day, make sure you get dressed and showered before sitting at your desk.
But don’t stop there. Take 15 minutes before you end your workday to clear your mind—and your office space. Make sure that you toss any unnecessary papers and file the rest. Taking care of both yourself and your office space can help you shake up your WFH routine.
7. Reorganize your workspace.
When you stay in the same place day after day, it becomes stagnant if you don’t change it a bit. As such, it might be a smart idea to move some stuff around and redecorate your home office. Why bother re-organizing your home office when you’ve already done it three times? Consider moving your desk to a different part of your house for a couple of days to get some fresh air.
SpaceWise says rearranging your workspace requires you to place it near plenty of windows or some natural light. This is because working in a dark room can cause eyestrain and exhaust you unnecessarily. A change of workspace is sometimes what you need to ‘switch it up’ and get you excited about where you work.
8. Take a lunch break.
Working through meals is easy when your desk is close to your kitchen. You may think it’s OK to eat lunch at your desk and type between bites if you’re pressed for time. If you’re really behind a deadline, that might make sense. Don’t make it a habit, though.
The thing about working through eating is that it feels like you never take a break. As a result, this increases stress. You should schedule WFH in a way that you can get away from work for a bit. You might want to take a few extra minutes to make lunch or do something else you’d normally put off.
If you’re always working, you can’t get away from your work life even for a minute. When working from home, it’s really helpful to separate “work you” and “home you”; otherwise, you’ll burn out. Consider making a timetable and make sure you leave time for short breaks, meals, and snacks.
9. Pursue a new hobby.
Try asking yourself, “What have I always wanted to do but never had the time to do?” Even though working from home blurs the line between work and home, it has its advantages as well. For instance, being able to pursue something other than work.
Take a break from the routine by getting a new pet, cooking, dancing, or creating TikTok content. Who knows? By pursuing this, you may be able to find an additional source of income.
10. Host a silent study hall.
Self-accountability is more challenging when you’re on your own. If you check your phone in the middle of your flow state or are procrastinating, there isn’t a coworker to keep you in check. The solution? Create a silent study hall.
Based on the silent book club trend, everyone in this community will read or work together in companionable silence. As a result, everyone will be able to finish their reading and work in a timely manner, and they will enjoy this time of the week.
Zoom and Zoom Calendar is a handy tool to use to connect with other work-from-home friends. Set a timer and log in. Mute yourselves, then get to work. The simple act of having others on the call with you will help you be more productive.
11. Schedule time in green spaces.
Approximately one in five American workers believes substance use has negatively impacted their work performance, according to a survey conducted in 2022. This study was conducted by Quit Genius, which has opened the nation’s first digital clinic for opioid addiction and has surveyed more than 1,000 Americans.
“These survey results point to a troubling trend of increasing drug use and low awareness of employer addiction-treatment programs,” said Yusuf Sherwani, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Quit Genius. “As the opioid crisis worsens, there are important steps employers can take to increase access to and participation in addiction care programs, including ensuring confidentiality and job security while lowering the cost of treatment.”
While you should definitely seek help if you’re struggling with substance abuse, visiting green spaces may also help.
According to research, visits to parks, community gardens, and other urban green spaces may reduce the use of drugs for anxiety, insomnia, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma among city dwellers.
Finland’s researchers found that going to these places three to four times a week cut drug abuse by a third and asthma by a quarter.
12. Adjust to changes in household routines.
“Another reason to adjust your work-from-home schedule is to account for shifts that may have happened not to you, but around you,” writes Elizabeth Grace Saunders for HBR. “For example, maybe your spouse has gone back to the office, so they’re gone most of the day, or your kids have changed schools, so the pick-up and drop-off times are different, or you got a puppy, and now you need to fit walks into your schedule.”
As your environment changes, you need to think carefully about everything you do throughout the day. Should you adjust your start time to a later or earlier time, for example? Would carpooling help be helpful for school, sports, or both? Is it necessary to modify your
“Acknowledge how the changes in your household routine give you more or less time and then reset your expectations accordingly,” she suggests.
Image Credit: JÉSHOOTS; Pexels; Thank you!
Editor-in-Chief at Calendar. Former Editor-in-Chief and writer at Startup Grind. Freelance editor at Entrepreneur.com. Deanna loves to help build startups, and guide them to discover the business value of their online content and social media marketing.