Tag: Work From Home

10 Not So Obvious Work From Home Tips

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If you work remotely regularly, you likely know the mainstays to be effective: that it’s critical to have a dedicated workspace and to avoid distractions like Netflix (if you don’t know that already, jot those down…) But what are some other not so obvious things you should do to set yourself up to be successful and effective while working remotely? How can you organize your day and mind to perform at your best from your home?

Here are 10 tips:

1. Structure your day

The flexibility of working from home can actually work against you if you’re not careful. It’s important to keep some form of schedule so that your days don’t bleed into each other. This goes beyond your Monday – Friday meeting schedule to include when you start and stop your day, when and where you take lunch, and whether you have regular physical activity scheduled. These are all things that come more naturally when you go to and from an office daily so try to find and maintain the right structure for you.

2. Watch out for snacking

Here’s the thing: if you work remotely full-time or any regular amount you will run the risk of upping your caloric intake by constant grazing. It’s also an easy way to procrastinate on any projects you’re dreading. Either way, close proximity to your refrigerator is an unspoken downside of working remotely. Meal planning can do wonders for those who work at home. No need to get obsessive but a rough idea of what your lunches and snacks (plural!) will be is key. And speaking of that:

3. But Take lunch

When you’re in a zone, jammed with meetings and deadlines, and so close to your kitchen where you can just zap leftovers in your microwave, it’s easy to opt to work through lunch rather than take a meaningful break. But just like it’s critical to take a lunch break at an office, it’s extremely important to force yourself away from your work at home set-up. Try eating lunch out on your front steps (or at least on your kitchen table). And meeting friends for lunch once or twice a week is a great reset if your budget can handle it.

4. Accomplish three things everyday

It’s hard to know where to start and stop, so make a list of three big to-dos you want to get off your plate each day. Just three. When you finish them, you’ll have concrete proof of your progress. This is something anyone can do whether you work from home or an office, but when you’re remote, you often have to fuel your own motivation even more so. Having a clear focus for your day is very powerful.

5. Have a morning routine

Do not sleep in until 15 minutes before your first call. Repeat: do not sleep in until 15 minutes before your first call. Sure you can literally roll out of bed and log onto your computer (you can technically pop open your computer from your bed!) but this will catch up with you. Plus you never know if someone added an earlier meeting to your schedule!

6. Invest in a good headset and/or headphones

OK, this one may be a tad obvious to WFH vets but a good headset is worth its weight in gold if you’re on the phone all day and don’t want to be relegated to your desk. Your company may even cover this for you so find out your options! For those of you not on the phone (like writers), noise canceling headphones are a huge plus for those days when the lawn maintenance crew hits your yard at 9AM or when you have to work out of a crowded coffee shop.

7. Get out of the house

I once heard about a freelancer who during one especially cold winter didn’t leave her apartment for 2 weeks. While that may have been an exaggeration, I can see how it happens. It’s really easy to get caught up in a fury of work, look up, and realize it’s nearly 4 pm and you haven’t left your home. Make it a point to leave your home every day during the workday.

8. Take breaks

While you’re at it, take an actual morning and/or afternoon break. When you go into an office every day, breaks are part of your routine and it’s important to keep this up even when you’re remote. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because you’re at home you need to constantly prove to your manager and everyone else you work with that you are in fact at your computer, doing work. Here’s the thing: they’re going to know whether you’re working or not and unless you prove them wrong they’re going to assume you’re getting your work done. And since they’re reasonable enough to be open to your flexible work arrangement they will understand that even with a remote work set-up you need to pause for a moment every once and a while.

9. Have plans at night

It’s easy to get tired during the week and make excuses to not see friends and family or go on that date, but when you work remotely and don’t see people all day it’s even more important to get out during the week. A dinner, walk, happy hour, or a gym class with friends also becomes more meaningful when it’s the main social interaction you have all day.

10. Co-work with a friend

One of the benefits of working from home is that you are able to avoid common distractions of an office including say, chatty coworkers. But sometimes people are nice. And working around someone can be a nice break and can be a boost of motivation when you see your friend killing her day from across the room.

Working from home is one of the biggest benefits of a hyper-connected society and workforce. But making it work for—not against—you is the key to your success in doing it!

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Work from home? What are your best tips?

This post originally appeared on Career Contessa. Book a career mentor session with Jane Scudder directly through Career Contessa’s Hire A Mentor service.

How to Build Strong Relationships With Colleagues When Remote

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When you work remotely a big challenge can be building strong relationships with your colleagues. This can be hard even when you do go into an office every day! But without sharing a work space you don’t have the opportunity to grow a friendship over the coffee machine, lunches, or after hours drinks.

We’re social creatures by nature but beyond the instinct for human connection, not having a strong relationship with the people you work with can work hurt you. We’ve all heard about the positive impacts having a “work best friend” brings with it. On top of this being friendly with a coworker may make it more likely for information to be shared with you or that you are top of mind when a new project comes up. It’s often not to be deceitful, it’s simply that people gravitate towards interacting with those who they enjoy.

This holds true not just for my fellow remote workers. Anyone who works at a company with multiple offices or who works with external vendors and spends a lot of time on the phone or emailing them can relate to the challenge, but very real need, to forge a relationship virtually.

So how do you do it? Here are my 6 go-to ways to begin to grow a strong working relationship when you don’t share a work-space with someone:

  1. Try. In my experience the number one way you can build a strong relationship with coworkers while remote is to put in the effort. Really try: ask questions. Remember answers and ask follow ups. Find common ground.
  2. Be friendly, in a way genuine to you. Going hand-in-hand with trying is to be friendly. It amazes me how quickly people in the workplace forget what a long way kindness goes. I’m friendly, open, and genuinely interested in people. I understand that not everyone is me so maybe being a gregarious version of yourself isn’t right for you. That’s okay, you don’t need to become overnight obsessed with your coworkers (in fact, don’t…) but you do need make an effort to be a person who others want to engage with.
  3. Walk around and talk with your hands. Maybe you’re thinking, “I get it. I need to work on this, but how exactly might I actually change this behavior?” One of my secrets is to actually pretend I’m engaging with someone in person. I walk around, I talk with my hands, I let me body talk the way it would if I were in fact face-to-face with someone.
  4. Capitalize on face-time. If you travel at all with coworkers or to different offices make the most of this time. Plan in advance: share your travel plans with those you work with, schedule time with colleagues, set up lunches and dinners. It will make your work trip more exhausting but think of all the energy you save while not working in an office regularly!
  5. Make real talk. I hate small talk. I especially hate small talk for the first 5 minutes of a 30 minute call when I have a busy day. What don’t I hate? Real talk for the first few minutes of a call even when I have a busy day. Why? Because I believe that being part of a social society, a team, a company, a working relationship requires asking questions and getting to know someone over time. Don’t spend 20 minutes talking about your weekends but do put in effort to slowly get to know those you work with, over time this will build up to a relationship.
  6. Suck it up. Maybe this concept is exhausting to you. Maybe you actually do not care about your coworkers. My response to that is simple: suck it up. You’re on a team–or at least engage with others daily,  you’re a member of a social society, you need to care about this stuff, and if you just don’t care you need to suck it up a few times a day or week.

All relationships require effort. Just because you share a cube wall with someone doesn’t mean you’ll be best friends and just because you work 1,000 miles away from someone doesn’t mean you can’t be close. Each requires effort.

What ways have you found to help form relationships while working from home? Share in the comments below.

How to Ask Your Boss to Work From Home

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You want to ask your boss to work from home. Maybe you have some recent changes in your family like the birth of a new baby or an aging parent has moved nearby. Maybe you’ve recently moved or your office has relocated and you’re now spending 3 hours in the car commuting. Maybe you’ve simply realized that being in the office all day, every day is simply not conducive to you doing your best work. Whatever the case, you’re interested in a little more flexibility and are ready to have the conversation. Easy right? Not always, this can be a daunting and intimidating topic. Here are 10 tips for this conversation:

  1. Frame it in a way your boss will understand and find value in. This is #1. Highlight how this new work set-up will benefit your company. Yes, companies want their workforce happy and healthy but what they most want is productivity and a good bottom line. Think about what your manager most values and show how some flexibility will help your team and company achieve this.
  2. Keep personal gains out of it. Yes you’ll have the opportunity to walk your dog more and will be able to throw in laundry in between meetings. This a personal benefit that your manager does not, I repeat, does not care about. Keep this out both because it doesn’t present any value add to your manager, in fact it might suggest that you will be spending more time with your pooch or keeping house than working.
  3. Consider what’s appropriate and realistic. All companies and teams are different; some are keen on flexibility some are not. You know your company and manager so spend some time thinking about what is a reasonable request. Maybe your firm will respond best to one day a week, or a month, or an afternoon after you have a doctor’s appointment. Spend some time thinking about what’s a reasonable amount of flexibility and pith that.
  4. Prepare for the conversation. Don’t wing it. If you have regular check-ins this is an appropriate time to bring this up; if you don’t (you should and that’s a different story..) ask for a check-in to talk about your role. Do it behind closed doors and come prepared with a specific plan (based on what you feel is appropriate and reasonable) for your boss to react to.
  5. Don’t demand an immediate answer. No one likes to be put on the spot and you never know what meeting or conversation a person just came from Don’t make your boss feel as if she has to make a decision right then and there; in fact if you make it clear that you want her to think about this and get back to you. She’ll likely appreciate the time to mull it over, especially if this would be new for your team or if she mat have to run it past her manager.
  6. Suggest a trial period. Particularily if this would be a new step for your company suggest starting with a short, trial period. Identify a window of time and schedule a check-in at the end of this period for you to discuss how the flexible set-up is working.
  7. Work hard. If you get the yes you’re looking for that’s great news, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to coast. In fact it’s the opposite; you need to prove to your company that you can handle this responsibility and your work won’t be compromised. Said differently: don’t slack off. Work hard, post results, show that flexibility doesn’t take away from your productivity but enhances it. You must be responsible and disciplined for your success here.
  8. Be flexible. Since you’re asking for flexibility you need to be flexible. In my experience this can mean coming even last minute even if I had planned to be at my home due to a last minute client meeting or a presentation. Especially if you’re in a trial period you need to ensure that your schedule is accommodating and flexible, since it won’t go over well if your new flexible schedule makes it harder for work to get done.
  9. Prepare for a no. Some companies, some teams, some managers simply don’t like remote work. No is an answer and if you ask for something you need to be prepared for it. If you get a negative response don’t wallow but keep on doing your thing. And while you do this…
  10. Think about how important flexibility is to you. If you’re reading this blog you likely have some interest in work flexibility (or you’re my mom–hi mom!!) If you bring it up to your boss you clearly have interest in it. If your manager shuts down the idea or you know your company simply won’t go for it, I’d encourage you to spend some time really thinking about whether this is something you want or need to be successful–and most importantly, happy–in your job and life. If it is then it may be time to consider a role that offers you the flexibility that you desire.

Workplace flexibility is a growing trend that can benefit a company and team in big ways. What else have you found to work (or not work) when asking for a flex-schedule?

Do I really need to have a dedicated work space??

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In a word, yes. If you spend a significant portion of your time working remotely having an office, a desk, or even a dedicated surface like a kitchen table or counter that is only your work-space is very important. But this can be hard, especially if you live in a smaller space or have a live-in partner, roommate, or children. So let’s talk about why it’s important to section off some space for your remote 9-5:

  1. You’ll take your work more seriously. Investing in the space or items will likely make you give your work the credit it deserves. Especially if you sometimes struggle with others taking your job seriously (and I believe this is all of us WFHers at one time or another, read more here) having a dedicated work-space, better yet a desk or an office, can help you feel more confident.
  2. Boundaries. When you don’t head into an office every day it can be challenging to separate your home life from your work life, especially after the day is done. A physical desk or work-space sets spatial boundaries and can allow you to walk away if only mentally. If you work from your couch, bed, or kitchen table that you also use to sleep, relax, or eat you’re blurring the lines of your work and personal life.
  3. You can set up and control an environment that is most conducive to you. For me I need a few drawers or shelves to organize files, desk space to keep pressing items top of mind, wall-space for a whiteboard, and generally a dumping ground for the 500 to-do lists and post-it notes I write to myself. Having a desk and dedicated area allows me to have all of these things nestled away from the rest of my home. Which brings me to…
  4. You can keep it as cluttered or as clean as you like. Some people are organized and clean at all times. Others are all chaos, all the time. I’m somewhere in between. When I need to be organized in my job I don’t like to have to deal with clutter that might be around my home since I still haven’t unpacked from a weekend trip. Or on the flip-side: if I have scribbled notes all over my desk to help me think through an upcoming strategy session I usually don’t want that mess bleeding into all aspects of my life and home. Having a dedicated space lets you leave not just your work at work but your mess as well (or avoid your messy home if you need cleanliness!)
  5. You’ll put some structure into your life. If you’re working from your couch (or worse, bed!) day, and day out you’re bound to think of your life as one big blur overtime: get up, bring coffee into your bed, log onto your computer, grab charger, decide it’s time for breakfast, move to couch, realize it’s time for lunch, take a meeting, realize you might want to put on pants. Sound familiar? This might work for the day after Thanksgiving when no one is around the office or for an hour before you head out of the country on vacation but this is not a sustainable work from home approach.
  6. You’ll like it more. A little secret of mine is that just 5 years ago I really disliked working remotely. That was partially because face-time was crucial to being effective in this role but it was also because I didn’t have a desk or even a table set up that I could work at in my kitchen. When I had to work remotely I would do so from my bed. I hated this. I felt like I was studying for exams in college. It didn’t feel like I was doing my job or being effective. But 5 years later and I’m a raving fan and pro-WFHer. I credit my desk and dedicated work-space a lot to this shift.

If you work from home does having a dedicated desk or office help you? Share in the comments below!

When You Can Work From Anywhere, Here’s How to Do It Well

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One of the great perks of being a remote worker is that you can work from anywhere. I have a work space in my home in Atlanta but I often work from my desk in my childhood bedroom when I visit my parents, or from a kitchen table when I visit friends, or from random coffee shops or even airports while in transit. It’s a huge perk for me but like everything else with this work from home life, it’s about give and take.

Last week (and a bit of the week before) I was traveling. I flew up to Boston, worked from my cousin’s place for a day and a half so that I was able to drive to my grandmother’s in Vermont Friday after work, then I headed to New Hampshire on Sunday to spend Mother’s Day with my other grandmother and family. After that I flew to Kentucky to work from my company HQ for a week.

It’s a perk that I personally value tremendously but it can be exhausting and not without its challenges (like scrambling in the dark to get the wifi to work before your hosts wake up since you are working on a different time zone!) Even with its challenges I am quite aware of the fact that my job is affording me this great benefit so I refuse to let my location choices negatively impact my performance. So how do I do that?

When I travel like this I ask myself what my priorities are. For me it often includes a range of items from seeing family and friends, exploring new areas, eating good (but healthy) food, exercising, writing blog posts (hi!), connecting with clients on my side business, giving myself some quiet time, oh, and of course excelling at my day job since again, they are enabling me to work like this. Like everything else in life it comes down to choices.

On the recent trip I described above, along with my full-time job my top priority was to see my family. That meant that I didn’t get to exercise as much as I normally would at home, I wasn’t able to prepare (or choose) my own meals, and I wasn’t able to blog for a week (sorry!) And that’s okay, because that’s the give and take of being able to be location agnostic.

People often envy what a WFH set up allows, and I certainly see where that comes from. But what they don’t always anticipate is that with it comes responsibility and the need to really ask yourself what a particular trip, or even day, is going to be about. It’s important for my to keep myself in check regarding so my work doesn’t sacrifice for the sake of the flexibility it affords me.

How do you take advantage of, and balance, your flexibility? Have you ever worked from a friend or family member’s home? What challenges and benefits has a remote set up afforded you and how do you manage it?

What to do when people don’t take your remote job seriously

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Chelsea Handler, one of the best comics and women in the game, and all around person I want to hang out with, dished out some advice on Fast Company to a women who works from home. Keisha, a freelance graphic designer who works remotely told Chelsea about some of the struggles she experiences with her lifestyle. Her main one? That her husband doesn’t support her and value her work.

This one is hard but Chelsea pretty much nails it in her own humorous way. There are a lot of nuggets in this under 2:00 minute video (which you should totally watch because, Chelsea Handler) from spatial boundaries, cleanliness, and overall value and self-worth. But there’s one that I find most important, and unfortunately a little disturbing; it also seems unavoidable to those of us who work from home: What to do when others don’t take your work from home job seriously.

Keisha struggles with her work setup because her husband doesn’t take her work seriously because she works from home. She mentions that they make nearly equal salaries but shares that he doesn’t respect her dedicated WFH space and her work.

Chelsea gives some very valid wisdom of, “You can’t look for your appreciation to come from other people.” Which is true. Your appreciation and self-worth need to come from within, but I will say that I struggle with this want for validation (and lack of it) at times.

How many of us teleworkers tell family, friends, or new acquaintances that we work remotely and receive a borderline sarcastic, “Oh that must be nice” accompanied with a smirk or even an eye roll. What is it about working from home that makes everyone who doesn’t do it all the time assume that we’re doing nothing all day? And, since Chelsea is right– self-worth comes from within, why does this bother us (or just me)??

I’ve thought a bit about where this comes from. Along with telecommuting being relatively new and people not always being able to imagine something different from their own experience, I believe it also derives from the fact that for those who work from home intermittently it can be (not always!) a bit of a relaxed day. Again, this isn’t true for everyone but at least early on in my career when employees worked from home it was often code for running errands or doing projects around the house while checking their email and if nothing came up they wouldn’t be expelling all that much energy into their workday.

But when you work from home full-time or even a sizable chunk of your work-life, this doesn’t fly. If you slack off while working from home one day you don’t have a day in the office to make up for it; all your days are at home so you have to be working.

Those of us who work remotely a lot understand that we’re working to our full capacity (oftentimes more effectively and sometimes keeping longer hours than when in an office) but it still can be frustrating to meet someone new and have them assume you sit around watching reruns of Downton Abbey all day, or like Keisha have your spouse not value you and your work.

So how do you get past this?

If you’re a remote worker you have to keep in mind that at the end of the day Chelsea’s right; if someone else doesn’t think you’re actually working, who cares? So long as you, your manager, and your direct sphere of colleagues know that’s what matters. Keep getting it done–at home!–and let people think what they want!

That said, not having spousal support (or support of close friends and family) can be challenging. If you struggle like Keisha what I’ve found to be helpful is to explain a bit about how I structure my day and my time for these people. By sharing that I tend to spend hours a day on calls–just like them–I try t carve out time during the afternoon if possible to write strategy and plans–just like them–and have regular check-ins with my manager and team–just like them–it helps a bit.

If you’re a significant other, friend, or family member of someone who works remotely take them seriously. End of story. This is their job, their livelihood, where and how they spend a significant portion of their life. They don’t think twice (hopefully) about how you manage your work day so don’t think twice about theirs. Oh, and don’t touch the desk.

Have you experienced family and friends not valuing your work because it’s done from home? How have you coped? Share in the comments below!

My secret to staying sane while working from my home all week

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When you’re home all day, every day, all week, every week it’s natural to begin to feel a little cooped up. So how do you fight these feelings? How do you remain a sane human, not get completely sick of your space, oh and stay engaged in your work for your company that is affording you the opportunity to be remote?? To answer this it’s important to consider the mindset and experience of the remote worker.

When you don’t got into an office every day there are some inherent social aspects of a job that you miss out on. Sure you can participate in a team fantasy football league and make picks in a March Madness bracket but there are social aspects that you just simply don’t get to be a part of: happy hours, group lunches, decorating a co-worker’s cube for her birthday.

Even if the social piece of your job isn’t all that important to you, the simple act of getting out of your house every day and interacting with other humans is something that you will notice. And if you’re like me and don’t live with a significant other, kids, roommates, or even have a pet, this can particularly take a toll.

It’s easy to fall into the mundane routine of getting up, having breakfast, working, having lunch, working, hitting the gym, having dinner, relaxing, going to bed. Rinse and repeat. Even if you have a roommate, significant other you live with, or even a pet, it’s easy to fall into this trap. It’s easy to fall into this trap if you do go into an office each day.

So how do you avoid getting massive cabin fever and going stir crazy when you spend a significant portion of your life cooped up in your home? What’s my trick?

I get out.

I’m not talking about spending an afternoon or two a week at Starbucks. I do that sometimes but that’s not the real interaction I seek. What I have found to be most effective is to have actual plans during the work week. Like going on a walk or doing a gym class with a friend at night. Or making a point to go out to dinner or drinks or a sporting event.

This isn’t rocket science, I know. But think about how easy it is to fall into that mundane daily cycle. And think about what you want to be doing after a looong day. If you’re anything like me and you crave (and need) down time to recharge and reflect; after a demanding day I love nothing more than curling up with a book or watching TV in peace. Especially after a few hectic days it’s so easy for me to go hermit mode at night; I tell myself I’ll see my friends and interact with the world on the weekend.

But when I started to work remotely this began to back-fire on me. When I was going into the office daily it was nice to come home and spend time alone; essential actually. But after being by myself all day I was ready for–needing really–human interaction. This was a surprising shift. What was more surprising what that it was impacting my work. If I stayed at home every night a given week by Thursday afternoon I would find myself struggling to stay focused. “Powering through” the end of the week turned into “powering through being in my house for another day.” While I still very much need my rest and downtime to reflect on myself and my world, when I’m home all day I very much need to leave home at night. So that’s what I now do.

This simple observation and change has really made all the difference for me. I’m human so when Thursday afternoon rolls around I still begin to taste and crave the weekend but I’m no longer sick of my space. I can stay focused and stay engaged in my work space, which can be half the battle when you’re a remote employee.

What do you do to stay sane from your home office? Share in the comments below!

Why you must get up early even as a WFH employee

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The other week I was answering some very fair questions from my parents about how my work from home job actually works (“But Janie what do you do all day?”) Since it’s often helpful for people to understand another person’s experience by considering their own reality, at one point my mom began to talk me through her own daily routine. She started and really focused on her morning. She gets up pretty early, pours a cup of coffee (side note: she and my dad have this adorable/practical rule that whoever gets up first makes the first pot of coffee and whoever gets up second makes the bed), walks outside to get the paper then spends 10 minutes reading The Star Ledger (#jersey) at the kitchen table. She noted that she always does a biiiiiig stretch on the patio outside (which I can actually visualize her doing), which may seem like a trivial part of her morning but is actually really important to her. It’s part of how she greets and begins her day: regardless of whether it’s 80 degrees or 20 degrees she does this and it has become part of her ritual.

I’ve always believed that mornings set the tone for the day. And rituals set the tone of our mornings. I studied Anthropology in college and rituals are proven to be vital parts of our lives and cultures. They create comfort and routine and contribute to us feeling like ourselves. A morning ritual can be just as important as a family ritual like hanging Christmas stockings together during the holidays in that if you don’t do it you can feel off.

When you are a remote employee and don’t have children or pets to care for, or a partner getting up early to begin his or her day, it can be incredibly difficult to get up early. If I don’t have a meeting until 9:30 that I don’t have to actively participate in it can be appealing to lay half asleep in bed until 7:30, 8, or even 8:30. But what that does that get me? A little more non-restful sleep. And more importantly it takes time away from my own time.

I don’t have complex AM routines. Sometimes I workout but more times than not I let myself wake up leisurely: I make coffee, open the front door to see what the weather is like, sometimes I make a big breakfast but a lot of times I sit down and turn on the news or draft a blog post while having my morning coffee. Since I am so acutely aware of ensuring my 9-5 work-time is dedicated to work this is some of the only time really set aside for me when I’m motivated and ready to take on the day. I really like to enjoy it because it’s allllll mine. Only after easing myself into my day with my rituals do I feel ready to tackle what’s ahead.

When you head into an office you might have anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of time to yourself as you get ready and commute. Yes many people have to get kids ready and drop them off; but hopefully they carve out a a small moment to themselves, even if it’s a slow deep breath before leaving their car or getting off the train. As a remote employee it’s critical to give yourself even this time for a deep breath before you start your day.

What’s your morning ritual? Do you need to get your gym-time in? Read or watch the news? Share below!

Why do I feel guilty taking breaks?

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If you read this blog (*insert upside-down smiley emoji*) you know that I’ve been working remotely full-time for the past few months. Prior to this I’ve been lucky enough to always enjoy flexibility as part of my full-time jobs and have always had the opportunity to work from my home to varying degrees. As I reflect on my journey to teleworking full-time I think a lot about the similarities and differences between this and going into an office daily, a lot of which I strive to capture in this blog. One has kept creeping up in my thoughts lately: taking breaks.

We all need breaks to function. Studies show taking regular breaks in between bursts of work then, well, working again, improves creativity and productivity whereas not taking breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion.

But I’ve noticed that when I take breaks while working remotely I feel significantly more guilt about doing so then when I would take a break in an office. Which is odd because even with the same amount of time spend “breaking,” I am still being far more productive and spending more time on work than when I was going into an office.

Consider: a 30-60 minute workout during lunch actually takes me less time while working remotely since I don’t have to make myself look presentable (i.e., re-do my hair and makeup) after the workout; I can opt to stay in my gym clothes for the of the day or rinse off then put sweats right back on. I estimate I save a total of 30 – 45 minutes when I work out during lunch while working remotely but I continue to feel more guilty about it. The same goes for running an errand. When I was in an office I would have to navigate my way through a maze of elevators, then out of a 10-story parking deck before even starting the errand. Starting and returning to my house saves me about 15 minutes, but again, I feel more guilt leaving my home office for just 30 minutes. The examples go on and on but the story stays the same: breaks seem more guilt-invoking when remote.

And it’s not just me. I had lunch with a peer a few weeks back (in the office) who mentioned that since she’s been working remotely a lot she couldn’t remember the last time she stopped to eat. I had to gently remind her that short breaks–especially to refuel–are essential.

I often try to understand why I feel a certain way before, or in conjunction with, remedying it. I imagine my feelings are partially a function of the fact that I know working remotely is a luxury; it represents a company showing faith and trust in you to be responsible and productive and get your work done. I don’t want to let my manager or team down or appear not to be pulling my weight or more generally, doing my job. But, I also want and need breaks.

So how to get past this mental block? For me it’s a constant, gentle reminder to myself that while my company is affording me the luxury of working remotely, they still want my best work. And since we are not part-robots (yet) I am still a working human and require breaks.

I have begun to use a personal litmus test of asking myself, “Would I do this in an office?” and if the answer is yes I do it and if the answer is no, I don’t. So going on a short walk around the park in my neighborhood during lunch or watching a 30 minute news program while I eat mid-day: fair game. Depleting my DVR or taking a nap: keep reserved for outside the 9-5.

How do you who work remotely manage your breaks– both the actual breaks you take and telling yourself it’s okay to do so? What strategies have my fellow teleworkers–and office dwellers alike– found to be helpful?

Make Monday Your Most Productive Day

OrganizationTelecommutingTime ManagementWork From HomeWorking Remotely

Mondays are hard. Whether you go into an office every day or work remotely there’s something inherently difficult about ending the 2 days that we each have to spend with our families, friends, and ourselves and handing our lives back over to our commitments. Okay that’s dramatic (and weekends can be full of commitments too!) but if you’re like the majority of people the reality is you have to work and Mondays are a part of it. If you’re like me and a full-time remote employee, or even have worked remotely on a Monday you know that Monday’s are their own interesting brand of hard while telecommuting.

Now I am not suggesting that it isn’t hard to get out of bed, get the coffee going, and get into an office on a Monday morning. That’s hard too. But working remotely these past few weeks full-time I’ve noticed that my Mondays in particular are, well, different.

There’s been something about kick-starting my week from my home after spending so much time in that same place over the weekend not working. Of course this could perhaps be a broader question about work/life balance and separation while working remotely but there have been a few strategies I’ve been employing on Mondays in particular which have helped me not just “get through” a Monday but rock it.

  1. Start your Monday on your own terms. What I mean by this is do whatever you need to do in order to start your day, and week, off right. For me that means getting up a little earlier to let myself have the lazy morning that I want. I make coffee, sometimes walk outside a little, I’ve been known to clean in the morning or throw in laundry that I just couldn’t bring myself to finish over the weekend. I once put together a 140 pound desk (if you follow me on Snapchat you were likely right there with me 🙂 ) The point is whatever you like to do in the morning to get ready give yourself enough time (maybe more than normal!) on a Monday.
  2. Sweat. If you’re able to get a workout in, in the morning or mid-day, do it! A lunchtime workout on a Monday is one of my favorite things to do. My mind literally feels noticeably clearer after doing this. Yes, this can be done in the early morning hours but I’ve learned that, that’s just not how I like to spend my first morning of the week.
  3. Go easy on yourself. You’re easing back into the work-week, let yourself truly ease in. Of course sometimes Mondays are hectic and deliverables don’t seemed to know days of the week, but if and when you can, cut yourself some slack. This doesn’t mean to not work by any means but if you need to grab a second (or third! Only me…?) coffee or tea then do it. Or if you don’t have a hard deadline to get something out maybe re-read it in the afternoon (maybe after that mid-day workout!) once you’ve had some time to warm up to the day.
  4. Have a solid Sunday. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a well-spent Sunday is key to a strong week. Yes, sometimes Sundays are meant for boozey brunches, I won’t deny this, but for me most Sundays are for relaxing, being productive, a bit of fun (always!), and gearing up for the week.
  5. Mondays are Mondays where ever you work. If you work remotely every day like me it’s easy to tell yourself than something (everything!) is challenging because you are remote. Remind yourself that Mondays are Mondays regardless of if you’re at your desk at home, desk in an office, or anywhere else.

Mondays can suck, yes, but you can definitely do some things to make yours better. Find your routine, allow yourself the extra coffee, and make it work for you!

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