Whether you’ve been a digital nomad for many years, always dialing in from a new (usually enviously beautiful) locale, or this is the first time you’ve ever worked from home – we’ve got ideas for you to stay productive and positive during this challenging time.
We’ve compiled our favorite tips and tricks for living your best remote worker life below.* Use what works for you and leave what doesn’t.
So chin up, buckle in and fill your favorite coffee mug – it’s time to get to work:
*We’re calling this a “Remote Working Guide” because it’s just that: a working guide. We’ll plan to keep it updated as any new ideas arise.
1. Create space. Physical and mental.
Yes, we physically have to stay inside right now, but that can wreak havoc on our minds and affect our moods, mindsets and ultimately impact our productivity.
Know that your mind and your mental health should be one of, if not the most, important priority. This tip applies now, to your current WFH status, and always.
Give yourself time throughout the day to create mental space.
- Take frequent breaks. Set an hourly alarm for yourself if you tend to forget to do this.
- Get some fresh air. Open a window, go into your backyard, walk around your block.
- Breathe. Focus on your breath, take time to meditate, close your eyes.
- Journal. Step away from your screen and put pen to paper. Spend a few moments writing your thoughts down, stream-of-consciousness style.
- Practice gratitude. Take a few minutes to think about what you’re thankful for.
- Acknowledge emotions aloud. Give your feelings somewhere to go by calling them by name, out loud. Then let them go.
- Exercise. Endorphins help your body process stress, boost your mood and can clear your mind.
- Watch cute animal videos. If this doesn’t improve your mood, then I’m not sure what will!
Whether you’re navigating a new setup in your home that includes remote office work, homeschool, childcare or a combination of all three, it’s important to designate physical space for yourself to get your work done.
This can mean finding a level surface to place your computer, or it can involve additional items or activities that help get you into work mode.
- Light your favorite candle.
- Sip your favorite tea.
- Listen to music that helps get you in the zone.
- Add a throw pillow to your chair for added back support.
- Position plants and other mood-boosting greenery nearby.
- Don your favorite cozy sweater.
If you’ve found a physical space for working at home that works for you, great.
Sometimes, staying in one place can stall your productivity. If you’re having trouble sticking to just one spot throughout the day, that’s fine too. Acknowledging and accepting this fact (instead of just sitting there in denial) can help get yourself out of that rut.
Move around. Try a standing desk situation at your kitchen counter for a bit. Work from your couch, work from bed (but notice if you’re getting too sleepy!).
2. Use routines to normalize your workday.
All these changes at once might feel anything but normal. At a biological level, humans are averse to change. Channeling routines that reinforce a normal workday, however, can help you cope with all of that.
- Set normal working hours (and stick to them). Having a clear divide between work time and rest time is important to sustaining your energy levels and productivity for the long haul. Even though, right now, you can’t physically leave your work laptop at the office for the weekend, you can still close it down at home, tuck it away, and intentionally make time away from checking your work email.
- Get dressed (or don’t). Whether you typically plan your outfits out a week in advance, or you throw together an ensemble from the top of your clean clothes pile, or you stay in your PJs until noon – no judgements here! What’s important is that you stick to what you normally do, so long as it continues to make you feel good.
- Brush your teeth. This is an obvious but important reminder, especially since you probably won’t be making your annual trip to your dentist any time soon. Brushing your teeth can also help you feel more awake during the day, especially during that all too familiar post-lunch extra-drowsy time of day.
- Brush or comb your hair. Especially as we lean more on video-based conferencing, you might not want your boss or your client to see your bedhead. Unless you’ve styled your hair to look that way.
- Shower. Practicing good hygiene not only keeps you healthy but also makes you feel better. I’m not sure if this is a scientifically proven fact, but it’s something we can all embrace.
- Drink coffee or tea. Caffeinated or not, piping hot, blended or chilled out with ice, your morning beverage of choice is a comforting way to stick to your routine and get you into a productive mindset.
- Read the news before tackling your to-do list. Just because you’re used to scrolling through your favorite newsfeed while commuting into the office on the train, doesn’t mean you can’t adapt a similar routine before diving into your inbox at home.
Some routines are easier to stick to and adapt for a home office than others. Get creative, experiment with different routines, stick with what helps and ditch what doesn’t.
3. Use social media with intention. Beware emotional onslaught.
Social media is an emotional firehose. Everyone is using their channel of choice to share how they are feeling about the current situation, and that emotional storm continues, without fail, 24/7.
It’s one thing to use social as a positive source to check in with friends, family and colleagues who are feeling the same way as you are, but also, notice if these emotions are having a negative impact on your own mental wellbeing.
If scrolling through your Insta feed is spiking your anxiety, remember that you are in control of how you use the platform. Take a breather for however long you need. Just as you’re physically staying indoors to stay healthy in order to protect yourself and others and flatten the curve, don’t forget to tend to your mental health along the way.
If you find that social media is impacting your mood or your productivity, tune it out. Turn it off. Delete the app if you have to.
4. Embrace change. Be flexible. Stay positive.
We’ve seen some of the most rapid and unprecedented changes to our lives and workflows in the last couple weeks. This will likely not slow down any time soon. How we react and position these changes in our minds is a powerful and important tactic we can employ.
Remember that you, as a human, are strong, resilient and perfectly qualified to evolve and face these challenges head on.
We don’t have time to wallow in the things we can’t do right now. Instead, focus on what you can do and what you do have, and what you are lucky enough to have access to.
- Rest & entertainment:
- Play your favorite tunes.
- Cook or bake something new.
- Make something new.
- Water your plants.
- Read a book or listen to an audiobook.
- Work on a jigsaw puzzle.
- Play a board game.
- Check out a livestream on social.
- Join a virtual dance party.
- Dive into a new crime series on Netflix.
- Take your dog for a walk.
- Try an online yoga class.
- Try a YouTube workout video.
- Run around the block.
- Clean your house.
- Run around your house.
- Call your mom, dad, grandma, aunt, cousin or all of the above.
- FaceTime your friends.
- Talk to your pets.
- Talk to yourself.
- Talk to your neighbors (at a distance).
5. Keep the communications flowing.
This pandemic is requiring us to rely heavily on communications and collaborations software.
Right now, we are all well-positioned to carry out our day-to-days virtually, thanks to smart technology (hardware and software), a stable-ish internet connection and not much more.
Where we may be lacking in physical proximity to each other, we can make up for with communication. This is one of the most fundamental aspects of remote working. If it feels like you might be overcommunicating, you’re doing it right.
What’s most important is knowing which channels to use for various scenarios.
- Email. Best for sending follow-up notes from meetings, a list of action items to multiple teams, or important announcements that include more than one detail.
- Gchat. Best for checking in quickly with a team member, seeing if your colleague is available for a phone call, checking a quick status of a project or asking a simple question.
- VOIP phone calls. Best for answering more elaborate questions about a new product or process, planning a list of action items, discussing finer details of a project in progress.
- Audio conferences (w/ screen share). Best for a new process walk-through, troubleshooting a problem you’re having, or presenting a report to your client.
- Video conferences. Best for team brainstorming, troubleshooting or training sessions.
Hopefully the ideas in this remote working guide will help carry you through the uncertain times brought on by COVID-19. And know that much of the information above will still apply post-pandemic and make for a healthy, positive and prolific remote work experience.
Did we miss anything in this guide? Let us know in the comments!