Working from home is a dream job for many, but working remotely requires professionals to hone an entirely different set of skills. One of those necessary skills? Knowing how to structure your work day so you’re productive, while ensuring you don’t suffer burnout from doing nothing but work. While it may sound ridiculous, many telecommuters will tell you that work can quickly take over your life … and burnout is no joke, because the first thing to plummet is productivity.
The good news is that honing time management skills just takes a little effort, some planning, and a bit of research to find out what works best for you. Here we offer useful, executable tips to structure your remote work day so work doesn’t take over your life.
Set a schedule or a limit
Setting a schedule when working remotely may seem to go against why people work from home. To find work-life balance, however, you must have some kind of schedule or limit on the number of hours you’ll work.
Some find that working the same hours on set days works best, while others find that working a specific number of hours per day or per week works. You can always try each way to find what works best for you.
Many times, lunch gets skipped by people who work from home. To maintain your productivity, you need to make sure you take a real lunch break, even if it’s only a half hour.
Not only will a lunch break give your brain a rest, but eating a healthy meal gives you the fuel needed to finish your day.
Consider waking an hour earlier
People often feel as though they never stop working because there isn’t enough time to get everything done. Many of those same people, however, have found that waking up one hour earlier gives them the time they need to get everything done. After your half hour morning ritual, you can get a half hour head start on your work day.
If waking up earlier seems impossible, try taking it slow. Each morning, set your alarm clock for five minutes earlier. The difference will eventually add up to another hour, but your body will barely notice the difference.
Be flexible and say yes
Regular hours are great for your work-life balance, but flexibility is one of the biggest reasons people choose remote work. Take advantage of this. If you need to chaperone a class trip or get invited to a midweek lunch while your sister is in town, go for it.
When you know in advance, simply rearrange your schedule. Maybe pick up your work that evening instead, or tack an extra hour or two onto a different day. Failing to take advantage of the flexibility offered can put a huge strain on your life since socialization is so important.
Work smarter, not harder
An old adage that relates to remote work is, “work smarter, not harder.” This should be your goal as a remote worker. Anything that will help you get more work done in a shorter period of time (without compromising quality) should be taken advantage of. This includes keeping a well-organized, designated home office. Investing in the best software to do your job and bookmarking consistently used resources. If you are on the go often, consider packing a “to-go work bag” so that you don’t risk forgetting something you may need.