When the pandemic hit, many companies made the move to remote work and statistics indicate that remote work is only becoming more common; as of 2023, 12.7% of full-time employees work from home. There are many advantages to remote work — no more commuting, more home-cooked meals, and more autonomy — but for many of us, staying focused and sticking to a schedule can be challenging. The perks of remote work can quickly become disadvantages if you’re not managing your time well.
By developing a healthy practice of self-discipline, however, you’ll be well on your way to conquering the workday from home. Here, we cover a few ways you can get started.
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace
An easy way to help yourself focus is to maintain a clean and organized work environment. While you might have spent the most stressful months of the pandemic working from the safety of your bed or sofa, it’s now time to upgrade your remote office.
To create a new home office, start by choosing a room or section of a room that’s not a busy part of your household and where you’re unlikely to face distractions. If you don’t have access to a room of your own, carve out a quiet corner for yourself. Your environment can either help or harm your productivity, so be sure that the place you choose to work from has a positive mental impact on you. Make your workstation inspiring so you look forward to sitting behind your desk daily. Keep clutter to a minimum and add a houseplant or another item that brings a sense of tranquility to the space.
If other members of your household work remotely or are home during the day, talk to them about having dedicated quiet time so that you can focus. Additionally, consider using a partition to insulate your environment from the noise and activity of other household members (and pets!).
2. Dress the Part
Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining a professional wardrobe at home. After all, you’re still technically at work. By dressing in appropriate work attire each morning, you mentally prepare yourself for the workday, so you’re more comfortable transitioning from a casual environment to a more professional one.
As virtual interactions have become increasingly common, dressing professionally during video calls also demonstrates respect for colleagues and clients, and helps you establish a sense of credibility and reliability with others. Dressing well can also boost your personal confidence, which influences how you communicate and present ideas.
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3. Plan Your Workday
Be sure to plan out your work schedule to create more structure in your day. Use your calendar to organize your day so that you’re not leaving important tasks up to chance. Scheduling is critical to completing tasks as most people won’t prioritize what they don’t put into their calendar. Scheduling out your day also allows you to account for all the events that might take place during a typical workday and helps you identify where you need additional time to make up tasks you haven’t yet completed.
4. Enlist Help When You Need It
Research suggests that over one million women left the workforce during the pandemic due to the stress and strain of managing childcare and a full-time job. Whether you are caring for a child, an elder, or household responsibilities, studies show that women do most of this type of work. It’s important that women have support systems in place to share the workload and If all members of your family need to focus on work, you may consider hiring a nanny or housekeeper to relieve you of your duties so that you can bring your attention to your workday. Even just a few hours of help a day can make a world of difference.
5. Manage Isolation
While working from home can often help you avoid interruptions from others, you might begin to miss interactions with your colleagues or find yourself feeling lonely. Unfortunately, this loneliness is not a side effect of COVID. Studies showed that 61% of respondents reported feeling lonely in a 2020 study conducted by Cigna.
Whether you choose to socialize via small talk or lunch with a coworker, it’s important to determine how much social interaction you need. Establish a daily routine that includes regular breaks and allocate time for social interactions, either virtually or in-person, to stay connected with colleagues. The tactics you choose will be personal to you.
The Bottom Line
Working from home has perks and challenges, but practicing self-discipline can improve your work life at home and in the office. Discipline takes a little dedication every day and, by following the five tips above, you will not only learn to survive these pandemic-era changes to your office environment, but you’ll also thrive in them.
Need a little help getting started? Learn about how working with an Arootah coach can help you build better habits today!