It used to be that managers/companies didn’t mandate remote work due to fear of employees slacking off. However, research has shown that working remotely makes it even harder to switch off.
Those who work virtually often work the longest hours of all—at a more intense work pace, and in some cases, under more significant stress.
With the extension of our quarantine, it’s more imperative than ever to draw a hard line between work/home life, or you’ll risk burnout.
Here are three quick hacks to help you become a more effective—and happier overall— remote worker, to show you how and when to set yourself on “home” mode.
Prioritize your productive times
Likely you’ve already established a morning routine that involves tea/coffee, emails, and follow-up work. It’s also likely that that routine gets interrupted by the dreaded team meeting.
It’s not uncommon to find yourself thrown off your rhythm once a meeting’s ended; scrambling about trying to pick up where you left off before it started, or wolfing down your lunch because things dragged on and now you’ve only got 20 minutes left in your lunch hour.
It’s actually better to break your day into chunks so you can tap into your productive times, and re-set when you start to slump. And if you have an appointment or you’re in charge of scheduling meetings, science says you should shoot for Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m.
In true Goldilocks fashion, that combination is just right—neither too early nor late for both timing and day of the week. It’s not always possible to find the ideal time and day to connect—and everyone is different, but if you’ve got days that are more crucial to your productivity (and sanity), by all means, honour them both, and build your workdays to take advantage.
Agree on your accountability
If you’re working long hours to get through your workload, resentment may start to build as you see other employees logging off and ending their day far earlier than you do.
Arrange to speak with your manager weekly or monthly to agree on your priorities and discuss what you feel you can reasonably achieve in the span of your day, and own the parts of the workload that belong to you.
If possible, have your manager delegate the tasks that are non-essential to you, or extend deadlines where/when applicable.
It may be that you don’t mind working a few extra hours, but continuously working overtime to keep a daily workload under control isn’t fair or feasible in the long run—particularly if you’ve got other obligations to tend to.
Be clear about your boundaries
It may be that you’re happy to work late as long as it doesn’t cut into dinner time with your kids, or that you’re available to tend to your home life in a way that suits.
Negotiate your own “on” and “off” times, and be clear about keeping them distinct. This includes turning off your tech, and not responding to work emails and messages when you’re off the clock.
So sign off with intention. Let your team know that you’re leaving, and actually shut down your computer or put away your laptop.
Unless you’re the firefighter or emergency contact for your team, set a DND on your phone and computer. If something is a real emergency, your co-workers will find a way to get hold of you. Mostly everything and anything else can wait until morning.
You’ve got to set your boundaries, and you’ve got to learn how not to feel guilty for setting them.
If you’re new to the remote working thing, it can be quite challenging to find your groove. Quarantine aside; if you can find a way to circumvent these common issues, you may even start to reap the rewards of autonomy, higher productivity—and more time for yourself outside of work as well.
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