When you’re working remotely, the workday can be a bit tangential. Not only are there different tasks to be completed, but there are a multitude of subjective factors to consider: your mood, the weather, whether or not you’re sick, your overall mindset toward your work, and so forth. Establishing your work routine goes beyond sitting behind a laptop and cranking out work done. It starts with optimizing what works best for you and what doesn’t. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you establish your remote work routine:
- Am I more productive during the day or night?
While some of us prefer to be up later in the hours of the night, others may prefer waking up early to get a head start in the morning. Depending on when works best for you, you may want to shift tasks around, if possible. For example, if your hardest task isn’t due for a week or so, and you know you tend to be most reinvigorated during the later hours of night, you may want to get a head start then.
- Am I someone that needs to physically step away to take a ‘break?’
Not all of us process or use breaks in the same way. While some need to physically separate themselves and work in a space that isn’t their bedroom, for some, moving to a different room is enough to create that barrier of separation.
However, if you find that stepping away isn’t enough and you need to leave the house or go on a walk, then do that. Things like cooking a meal for lunch can provide the separation that you need.
- What foods make me feel the best? What is my current diet like?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing quick meals over more extensive meals that may be healthier in the long run. However, take the time you need to ensure your diet is working with you, not against you. Aim for foods that fuel instead of foods that make you feel groggy. Top foods to eat for nutrition may include fish, broccoli, beets, blueberries, and more.
Also, evaluate your schedule. Is there time to create elaborate meals? If there isn’t, it may be a good idea to meal prep so you have a lineup of mouthwatering yet nutritious meals for the week.
- Am I getting enough social interaction?
No, this isn’t a rhetorical question. While everyone’s schedules vary, if you find that you aren’t getting enough social interaction, it may be crucial to set time aside from work to reconnect with friends, get on FaceTime with a family member, and so forth. Joining your companies after work events, whether virtual or in person, is also a great way to get that social interaction in.
If you’re used to working in an office, there may never have been a shortage of people to converse with. Working remotely can feel isolating at times, which is why it’s essential to check in with yourself and your social needs, too.
- Do I find it easy to unplug after work? Or, do I find myself daydreaming about an issue at work while at dinner?
If closing your laptop and logging off for the day isn’t enough to disconnect from work, it may be a sign that burnout is incoming. Take your time to reprioritize and take it slow whenever there are moments to.
Some ideas for unplugging include cooking a meal, taking sporadic breaks, and making post-work plans so there’s something to look forward to after the remote work day is over.
This sort of mindfulness is what will help you maintain your work-life balance. In fact, “the practice may help you identify and manage your feelings
- Do my job tasks fulfill me? Which tasks do I enjoy doing?
While you may not enjoy every aspect of your job, take a moment to reflect on the projects you’ve been working on. If there are certain tasks you enjoy doing, is it possible to see if you could do more of them? In regards to the task that you may find tedious, is there a way to make them more enjoyable? You can also try completing the tasks you find less enjoyable first and then the tasks you find most enjoyable next for a change of pace.
- Can I integrate any of my hobbies into work?
Have a passion for video editing? A secret talent for coding? Integrating your hobbies within work can help fuel work engagement and keep things refreshing. If you see an opportunity to integrate your hobbies and have the bandwidth to do it, then go for it. You may strengthen these skills, learn a few things, and develop new relationships in the process.
This is all a matter of preference, however. Some prefer to keep their hobbies and work separate, and some like to infuse their hobbies with their workday, so every day is enjoyable.
Once you’ve thought about these questions, you can start piecing together your routine and experimenting. Begin with a rough outline and then make tweaks from there. For example, if you’ve found that you can only do work if you’ve had a slower start to the day, then try getting up early.
This can also go both ways, however. Sometimes, what we think works for us may turn out otherwise. That’s why it’s important to be self-aware and attuned to ourselves to establish the best work routine for us. There are tons of moving parts to working remotely, as it doesn’t follow the traditional trajectory of working in person where you head to the office and go back home. Remote work shines when you’ve fully taken advantage of its benefits by creating a process that works for you.