Starting to work from home has been a breath of fresh for people all around the globe — they have freedom and flexibility in their work schedule and feel more control over their lives.
But remote work isn’t as easy as it seems — while you aren’t forced into an office for 8 hours a day, managing work tasks and homelife duties have come as a shock to some. Maintaining a healthy work/life balance has been a challenge for the 56% of people who struggle to unplug.
So how do you set out a fair work schedule which helps you set aside distractions and crack on with work without making you neglect your personal responsibilities?
What Doesn’t Help Build a WFH Schedule?
The best way to create a good schedule is by understanding what doesn’t make a good schedule. Here are some of the biggest pitfalls that new remote workers fall into.
We’re Working From Home, But Are We Still Living?
Being in an office clear defines your work hours — you start when you arrive and you finish when you leave. Some management types have started to really over-estimate how long the workday lasts and are expecting people to continue working outside of their normal hours.
Remember that the hours you are paid for working your job are still very real — just because it’s easier to get back to working doesn’t mean that you should work every hour of the day!
Know when you should log on to work and know when you log off. Learn to unplug! There aren’t enough hours in the week to give up an hour every day and still have time for yourself.
Forcing 100% Productivity From 9 til 5
The average worker in an 8-hour shift actually only works around 3 hours per day, so why are you working your fingers to the bone at home?
Remember that you are allowed breaks. Failing to allocate free time during the day is going to lead to burnout — just ask the 52% of workers who are feeling flat in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sticking To The Office Routine
Clock in at 8, take a break at 10, lunch at 1, take a break at 3, home time at 5. Office culture permeates our lives and makes us think that this is the only way to work.
Don’t transplant your old office routine when you are scheduling your day. You don’t need to — take a break when you need it, take a late lunch depending if you want to, or you could even clock off early because there’s no more work to do.
Why stick to a routine of a physical office when you are working online? Unless you have meetings to attend, there’s no need to keep track with the former you.
Tips for Creating a Successful WFH Schedule
Although successful WFH missions vary from person to person, here are some helpful tips to get you started on managing your workflow throughout the day.
Understand Your Working Hours and Living Hours
Flexibility is great, but working from home doesn’t mean you should work all the hours. Your schedule should include break times, a lunch break, and a clear end-of-day.
Working remotely means that your modus operandi is always close at hand, but that doesn’t mean you need to be available to use it every time your boss wants you to! Have a clear start to your workday and know when you’re ready to wrap up a day of work.
When that’s done, unplug. Work laptop, off. Work phone, off. Work emails are ignored until tomorrow. With Portugal now stating that work calls outside of work hours are illegal, maybe we should take that as a sign of a change in work culture.
Recognize Your Biggest Distractions
Living with other people (whether they’re flatmates or a family with kids) brings everyday struggles to remote workers. Similarly, many people can’t resist the temptation to indulge themselves in their hobbies.
Identify and manage your distractions early — if you need time away from the family, tell them and plan accordingly. If you might be tempted to learn to play the kazoo, create a dedicated workspace.
Creating a dedicated workspace will help you get a step ahead in your workday and you will have more time for fun when every task is completed.
Don’t Forget to Schedule Lunch
Whether you get a paid lunch hour or not, that hour is for you. Despite 67% of Americans spending their lunch breaks at their desk, it doesn’t need to be that way when you are a remote worker.
Social pressure to constantly work from managers and co-workers is one of the many reasons people dislike office culture. Guess what you don’t have at home? Managers and co-workers looking over your shoulder. Unplug yourself, move to another room, and enjoy your time off. Working from home doesn’t mean working all the time from home!
Don’t Treat Your Home Office Like An Office
Sounds kind of strange, right? Where an office worker might have a 100% focus on productivity throughout the day, remote workers don’t need to stick to strict breaktime routines or even stay the full 9 to 5 every day (although studies show that people often work much longer!).
If things happen in your life which require you to move things around or if you fancy a long break in the morning, shuffle your tasks around and that will help you stay productive while you can also take a break when you need it and get a much-deserved rest.
Make Work From Home Work For You
Working from home comes with freedom and flexibility, so you should use it to the full extent. Just because you used to work 9 to 5, that doesn’t mean you have to work during those hours now.
For people who have responsibilities in the morning like schoolchildren, move your work routine later in the day. Taking a longer lunch and then working until 6 pm (if necessary) has been a major benefit for those working remotely, so why should you suffer when you could thrive with a freer structure to your day?
Understand your needs for the day and build a schedule that includes things you want to do as well as the things you have to do. Exercise, friends, social media, your favorite app — these are only distractions if you want them to be. Plan your day so you have time for everything, not just your job.
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Originally published at Upstack.co on Jan 30, 2022, by Austin Miller.