The corona-virus pandemic has seen millions around the world moving to a work-from-home setup. However, what started as a practice enforced by governments has now become something that more and more companies are adopting out of choice. Indeed, reduced commute times and increased time to spend with family, roommates and pets means that people are slowly realising that working from home, at least to a certain extent, could become the new normal. But working from home during a circumstance as scary and as strange as this one presents a whole new set of challenges, whether homeschooling children while working or the loneliness of working without IRL coworkers. The blurry distinction between home — which used to be antithetical to the workplace — and work is increasingly making it difficult for working professionals to demarcate their personal and professional responsibilities.
We understand that navigating this new landscape can be difficult. To stay afloat, we are sharing some tips that worked for Team Luxeveda at a personal level while we worked from home. They ensured that we balanced our home and career lives well while still meeting goals and deadlines.
Tip 1: Calendar and Journal Mapping
Mapping is the process of creating an approximately linear understanding of your tasks and due dates. This is not restricted to only mapping work tasks, but also chores and other self-care endeavours. Mapping can take many forms, depending on the level of involvement from your end. The reason that mapping is beneficial is because it works for all kinds of needs, and allow individuals to create unique mapping templates for themselves.
There are many ways to begin the mapping process: a simple to-do list can do wonders for keeping you organised, motivated and productive as you work from home. A to-do list can be a daily, weekly or monthly list. As you create your list, think about big, long-term goals, like finishing a project, as well as small goals like completing tasks that lead to that big goal. Checking off those smaller goals lets you know you’re making progress, which gives you positive reinforcement throughout your day. Work feels much more doable when it’s not all one giant task.
Make sure to write or type out your list instead of just having it in your head. You will not have to devote head-space to constantly remembering what you have to do, and the pleasure of crossing tasks off your list can help you stay motivated. One system that definitely worked for us is a reward mechanism, wherein we treated ourselves to something we enjoyed — this could be food, meditation or anything else — every time we crossed something off the list.
Remote work requires a schedule much like a typical office job, except you are the only person holding yourself accountable. Sometimes in our attempt to take responsibility of our actions, we end up working more than usual! It is important to take regular breaks to refresh yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. To ensure this, even non-work activities need to be scheduled during the mapping process.
When creating your schedule, take into account the other commitments in your life and find a routine that lets you take care of those as well. If you have a child, build their care into your schedule. If you play sports or volunteer, schedule time to get work done between these activities.
Once you have set your schedule, make it visible to your coworkers with a shared calendar. This way, they will know when you are free to meet and when you have blocked out work and personal times. It is also a good idea to make sure friends and family understand your schedule and respect it. Set boundaries and expectations by letting them know that working remotely does not mean you are free all the time. Keep some time to just do nothing; scrolling through your Instagram mindlessly is a pleasure you should never have to live without!
Tip 2: Create a Trigger That Induces you to Work
When you work in an office, the daily routine of getting ready and commuting helps your brain get ready for the day. When you are working remotely, you can create “start the day” triggers that get your head ready for work in a similar way, like exercising, reading the news, or making coffee.
A workspace may also be key. If you can sit down and be productive anywhere, that’s great. If you need more structure, establishing a designated workspace — whether it’s a separate room, a fully stocked desk, or just a clean part of your kitchen table — can help tell your brain that you are in the place where you do work without distraction.
Distractions are one of the biggest challenges of working remotely. To keep your brain engaged, avoid doing non-work tasks during your work time. For example, schedule a separate time to do laundry instead of when you are finishing a work presentation. This might seem impractical given that you are always home, but it works wonders to change your outlook on working-from-home as a concept.
Tip 3: Do Not Forget- You Are Still Part of a Team
Working from home might seem like a solo experience, but it usually still involves interacting with others, whether it is meeting with your team, getting assignments, making decisions, or giving and receiving feedback. It is hence important to set up methods for collaboration while you work remotely. One way to do this is to have meetings about things that are also non-work related. For example, your team could have interactive video call sessions about book clubs, tips for employees with kids, tips for employees without kids and fun, trivial competitions. This makes it easy for us to still have fun and have the metaphorical ‘water cooler talk’ throughout the day.
What has also helped is having lunch over video call — this will allow everyone at work to broadly have a synchronised schedule, one which could emulate a workplace environment better.
Tip 4: Meal Prep. Seriously
After close to three months of the lock-down period, it is difficult to see the people around you upskilling when sometimes it is difficult to even complete your own daily tasks. One thing we felt was both a great source of stress relief while also allowing us to upskill is cooking.
This might sound amusing, but cooking greatly helped us in all aspects of our lives. Timely meal preparation, mainly on the weekends, ensured that we were well stocked for the rest of the work week. Cooking allowed us to have a semi-regular task which gives us quick and tangible results. Since we had the freedom to make whatever we wanted, this also tied into our rewards mechanism, and cooking became a respite from the daily routine.
These tips are useful to all of us at Team Luxeveda and they will help your team build its morale and ace the work-from-home game.