Let's face it; remote work is not going anywhere.
Even if and when we return to a new normal, there is no doubt that many businesses will integrate a hybrid work model. For more than a year now we've shown that a) it works and b) businesses can operate with a smaller footprint (office) - aka lower expenses.
I myself, shifted to a remote-heavy work arrangement when moving out of the city pre-pandemic. I've been working from home for quite a bit and after many trial and errors, I feel like I've finally found my rhythm.
I want to share my findings with you as I know how hard it can be. I'm seeing people eating during zoom meetings, glued in front of their computer all day and ultimately, feeling depressed and disconnected.
I believe that setting boundaries (physical and psychological) is instrumental to everyone's success.
Historically, remote working was perceived as a non-efficient way to accomplish your tasks. Employers were afraid that you would put more attention on your laundry than your to-do list. I've always disagreed. Who cares if you start a load, really? If you're professional, you know what you have to do and that shouldn't be getting in the way.
But when it's everyday with no end in sight, it's easy to loose our mojo.
I've rounded up 7 hacks that continue to help me set the stage for extra productive days while working from home..
1. Rethink Your Set-Up
The first 6 months after we relocated outside of the city, I was working at the dining table. I loved the vastness of it and the amount of natural light I was getting. I enjoyed the flexibility and often moved to the kitchen island, to the couch, to the dining table. All great until I realized...
...that I was always working. Work was spilling into my personal life and vice versa. There was no closure and it was so easy to reply to "just one more email". And just like that, you have the perfect recipe for burnout!
If remote work is going to be your new reality, make sure to set-up in a room with an actual door that you can shut at the end of the day. Simple detail but likely the most important of all.
Your day is done? Shut the door - it's the equivalent of leaving the office at the end of the day. That was a game changer for me and it allowed me to create strong physical boundaries.
2. Starting the Day Right
Establishing a morning routine is really important to prepare your mind and get yourself ready for a productive day. Think of this time as me-time: the time you used to spend commuting. It's now yours! Isn't that a wonderful opportunity?
Just like Hal Elrod mentions in his The Miracle Morning book: your morning ritual is essential for cultivating your mindset and energy ahead.
For me that means a short meditation focused on appreciation, a 30-min workout every other day, followed by my coffee ritual. I allow myself 45 minutes in the morning before checking my phone (important: do not check your emails before this otherwise your head will already start working which will be counter-productive).
A strong morning routine will anchor you and get you in the right headspace.
Do this by actually blocking your calendar. Obviously remain flexible but also prioritize your mental wellbeing.
3. Take the Lunch Break
Have an actual lunch break: is it me or since working remotely, the day never ends?
Literally. It’s one zoom meeting after the other. I see so many people apologizing that they'll be eating during the meeting because it's been non-stop for them.
Now let me be clear; I'm the first one to do it on busy days. What I'm saying is it just can't be the norm. It's not sustainable for anyone.
Block 30 minutes and take the time to eat outside or simply not in front of your computer. Your brain will be refreshed and so much more productive for the afternoon ahead.
4. Mini Nature Breaks For The Win
You know that coffee or snack you're craving in the middle of the morning or afternoon? Try this: replace it by a a 15-minute nature break and shift your energy immediately.
Go barefoot and do some grounding. Soak up a few rays or go for a mini power walk in your hood. This mini break using nature will energize you and help you get right back in the flow.
You can also use this hack as a quick mood shifter. Every time you find yourself building stress, lacking creativity or starting to be edgy: go outside. Everyone will thank you and your productivity will get right back on track.
Keep it fun :)
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Here I'm not talking about coffee but clean water! With remote working, we often are glued and absorbed by our computers all day, forgetting to drink water.
When you get dehydrated, even just a little bit, your cognitive functions will decline. It's crucial to keep your hydration levels high with water.
I always drink 2-3L of clean water per day. I keep my 1L glass bottle right by my coffee.
I like to spice it up with a few drops of chlorophyll, a strong antioxidant that can increase oxygen intake from your red blood cells (also a good source of vitamins and minerals).
I also like to add trace minerals - natural electrolytes - to increase water absorption and energy.
6. Save Your Eyes
Staring at a bright screen with indoor lighting all day can wreck havoc on your eyes and brain. Over time, it can even disrupt your sleep patterns by confusing your circadian rhythm. As a result, your overall energy and efficiency will decrease.
After having dry/itching eyes and noticing a drop in my vision, I decided to invest in blue-light blocking glasses that mitigate the amount of junk light we get exposed to every day.
I also take a supplement packed with strong antioxidant that can help reduce eye strain.
7. Get in the Zone
You know that feeling of "flow". I looooooove being in the flow. That mindset is vital to my energy so I now prioritize it EVERY DAY. I try to allow myself at least 1 x 60-minute uninterrupted block per day in my calendar.
A flow session is when you forget time and you are hyper focused, productive and creative. That's when magic happens! It's energizing and will be key to ensuring enjoyment and fulfillment from remote work.
To facilitate flow, I like my phone on airplane mode, my emails shut down and a good playlist in my ears.
Speaking of playlists, here are 2 that I've curated that I keep going back to. Try them:
- Work Upbeat (if you like to tap along with your feet)
- Reset + Flow (if you prefer more low key music)
A Final Note on the Human Interaction Piece
Finally, I want to acknowledge how difficult it is not being able to physically work with your colleagues. There is a level of magic that happens with face-to-face interactions that is hard to replace with technology.
Nonetheless, here is what I do: I aim to plan quick touchbase with the people that fuel me. Think of this as the hallway conversation or coffee chat. I’ve always been a fan of those and would often pickup more from my team or colleagues in these impromptu discussions than formal meetings.
It’s important to try and recreate those virtually! I always leave those virtual meetings feeling energized. Try to sprinkle them throughout your week.
I hope this is helpful to set the stage for a successful work environment and balanced life.
You got this!