Ever since this whole COVID-19 thing hit, A LOT of us have been working remotely. Leah shared her tips and tricks back in April, and a lot of it is still relevant. While there are pros and cons to this technically, I wanted to focus in on the work-life balance aspect.
This is a struggle that I had for quite a bit. I was constantly asking myself, “Have I done enough work?”, “Does my boss think I’m slacking?” or “Do I have to be online so they will think I’m pulling my weight?” Sure, there are people out there who can and would abuse the lack of supervision that comes with remote work, but on the other hand, a lot of us have been putting in weird or long hours and not living because we think we have to always be available or online.
Here are some tips to help make sure that we are getting as much done as we should while also striking a balance for our personal lives.
Stick to a routine
I have found routine helps tremendously! It took me a few weeks to really figure it out with all the changes, but making sure I go to bed at a decent time and waking up at a reasonable time keeps me on track for the rest of the day. A good cup of coffee and shower before my first meeting makes sure I’m on the ball!
Use video calls
Yeah, I used to make fun of all of the kids that would hop on FaceTime all the time and just stare at each other, but for catching up with family it just feels good. It even helps with talking to clients and coworkers. I can see them (virtually) face to face. Conversations flow better, and I can really pick up better on the social queues that I don’t get over the phone.
It is important to strike a balance, though. Since we’re having to communicate virtually a lot more these days, being on camera for all eight hours of a day can get wearisome. Keeping some calls to voice only, or allowing your fellow meeting goers to choose to leave their camera off once in a while can be a huge relief. The “Zoom Fatigue” is real.
Tip: Make sure you know where your mute button is!
Get some exercise
This has been hard for me. I have a real problem not keeping busy. Being stuck inside while it’s beautiful outside just kills me. When the walk outside to the mailbox is exciting I know that I have been inside too long! I started doing exercises and walks outside a few times a week and it’s been great.
Soak in daylight
That giant ball of light up in the sky, yeah it’s actually good for you! Got a conference call that you’re mostly just listening to? Grab that laptop/phone and go sit outside. Have a short break or a call that ended early? Hop up, stretch your legs and just take a quick walk. Even if the sun is not out, the fresh air will do you good. Take advantage of it now while the weather isn’t frightful….
These times are tough. Some of us have kids literally hanging off our necks during calls. Some of us are so cooped up we’re about to explode. Some of us are running around like chickens with their heads cut off just making sure we don’t drop the ball. And some of us are all of these at once. Treat your fellow workers with grace and give yourself some, too.
Keep your headset charged (and know how to use it)!
This seems to be a pretty common occurrence during online meetings. There is always someone fumbling around with their headset, trying to get it to turn on, or they can’t find the mute button. Have a couple of headsets you can rotate through if it’s a heavy meeting day and don’t forget to charge them up!
Schedule yourself focus time
While we are all trying to make sure we are busy and make sure everyone else in the company knows it be sure to carve out time for focusing on items you need to. The conference calls, which have probably multiplied a ton since working remotely, and little tasks can completely eat up your day. By the time you look up, dinner should have already been over! Focus time can seem silly to have to schedule, but it’s one of the items I have worked on since pre-Covid and promote even harder now. Being interrupt driven and not allowing deep work can make tasks take three times as long and affect the quality of your work.
Just take a step back from it all and look at the big picture. It can save you HOURS of time.
Strive for balance
I saved this one for last. Remember just because you are at home doesn’t mean you have to be “on” 24/7. Make sure to work out a schedule (with boss/co-workers’ understanding) and stick to it. Once everyone knows your schedule and you show them how you stick to it, it re-enforces that you are committing to your job by defining how and when you will be online. Of course, as emergencies pop up make sure you are aware and adjust accordingly.
There you have it – some tips for better living as you work remotely!