It’s true: Working in pajamas can be very satisfying. However, just as essential to the work-from-home formula as a comfy set of PJs, is the ability to manage one’s time. Unfortunately, the latter often poses a challenge, particularly for those new to remote work. Sporadically tackling job tasks in spaces typically reserved for personal affairs can leave remote employees feeling like they’re never really off the clock. To avoid blurring the boundaries between on-the-job hours and personal time, remote workers should focus on developing a schedule that optimizes productivity, while also preserving plenty of time to unwind.
Below are a few tips to help establish a routine that allows telecommuters to optimize their workday for maximum output.
Set Working Hours
Because they are not bound by typical working hours, telecommuters can fall into the habit of interspersing their work with personal business; they may run errands or attend appointments, abandoning their workspace for hours at a time. Optimizing job performance involves consistently concentrating on job-related tasks. Such focus is nearly impossible to maintain if tasks are interrupted and dragged out far longer than necessary. To ensure that on-the-job attentiveness remains intact, remote workers might consider setting aside a slot of hours every workday, during which work takes precedence over personal obligations.
Consider Daily Performance Trends
Any remote employee will soon realize how their mental stamina fluctuates throughout the day. Some are night owls; others hit their stride after lunch and a coffee. Whatever the case, it’s beneficial to align major job responsibilities, such as meetings or strategic planning sessions, in a way that caters to fluctuations in energy levels throughout the day. For example, if a marketing telecommuter who functions best during early hours must meet with a critical client and later that day, brainstorm campaign strategies, it may be prudent to schedule the meeting as early as possible, and proceed directly to strategizing afterwards, rather than beginning a substantial task later, when energy reserves are waning.
Establish Clear Boundaries
Friends, family and others may not understand that a remote job doesn’t mean you’ll always be available to handle extraneous activities. In this case, it is essential to explain the delineation between your working hours, and free time. Clearly define the hours you’ll be occupied, and you won’t be expected to run to the grocery store, or take the car for repairs while in the middle of a project. When circumstances force you to take an unplanned break from work, try to keep any interactions short; for example, in the case of an unexpected visit, you might politely interject that you’re working now, but would love to meet up later.
Working from home offers freedom and flexibility, which must be tempered with a strong sense of personal discipline. If remote work is scheduled and completed judiciously, a telecommuting job can be just as fulfilling as traditional office work.