The latest COVID-19 safety recommendations have millions of American’s working from home overnight. Speaking from experience, remote work is an adjustment and for many, it takes months to find a new rhythm. We are living in unprecedented times and with that comes a unique opportunity to share knowledge and information for the good of our community. Here are my top five suggestions to help you maximize your work-from-home experience.
1. Start with Movement
Whether you take a walk around the block, try an at-home workout, or do some gentle stretching, starting your day with movement is sure to set you up for success. Cortisol levels are highest after you wake up so getting a morning workout allows you to take full advantage of your body's natural wake state. If you need some inspirational resources or ideas to plan regular movement then reach out to me! Most importantly, set aside time up-front to intentionally invest in yourself before getting online.
2. Leverage Timing for Peak Performance
In Daniel Pink’s book When The Scientific Secrets of Perfect of Timing, he explains the value of organizing our day using a strategic and predictable pattern. The vast majority of individuals experience greater levels of energy in the morning and evening, with alertness and focus dropping mid-afternoon. Plan tasks with this pattern in mind by saving analytical tasks and decision making for the morning, and mundane tasks for the afternoon. If this topic interests you, read the book and learn more about how you can develop a schedule that’s right for you.
Pro Tip: My favorite planner is by Bloom Daily Planners, a female-founded conscious company. If you prefer the virtual route, Google Calendar works great and you can sync it with family and friends to stay up to date.
3. Take Breaks
Breaks are crucial for sustained energy output. Research suggests that top performers work for 52-minutes straight, then take a 17-minute break. Instead of viewing breaks as “lazy” consider them your competitive advantage. It’s easy to lose track of time when you are home and end your workday feeling completely drained- try setting a timer for work blocks and breaks. Taking breaks to move, eat a nutritious snack, connect with a colleague, or switch out laundry, will allow you to close out your workday as your best self.
Pro Tip: I make crockpot and instant pot recipes that allow me to maximize productivity in between meetings and work blocks. Here’s a link to a few of my favorite recipes by Pinch of Yum.
4. Schedule Virtual Calls
Stay present with colleagues by scheduling virtual video conference calls. Working from home can feel isolating but seeing the faces of your colleagues via web calls makes it seem much more “normal,” especially if you are new to working from home. Expect things to be a little awkward at first, but stay consistent. This practice motivates you to get dressed and look your best which in turn can impact your engagement and performance.
Pro Tip: Zoom is my video conference platform of choice. Zoom’s basic plan is free, easy to use and reliable.
5. Honor the Start and End to Your Workday
When you’re new to working from home it can be easy to feel the need to be on the clock 24/7. Resist the urge to scroll through emails in bed each morning or keep working through dinner. Commit to a simple morning and evening routine that cues your mind to prepare for or wrap up your workday. For example, after taking time for a morning workout and breakfast, step into your workspace to evaluate your workday and prioritize your top three tasks. Take 10 minutes to close out windows and declutter your workspace before wrapping it up. Take note of any unfinished work and add it to your priority list for the next day.
Pro Tip: I use Trello to project manage my tasks and responsibilities. Trello is user-friendly, customizable, and can be used among teams and groups.
These simple rhythms can have a huge impact on your ability to separate your workday from the other at-home activities or responsibilities that demand your attention. You owe it to yourself to set healthy boundaries, be proactive and communicative with your team, and enjoy your work-from-home experience. It really can be a joy once you find your flow. Keep your head up and remote-work on!