For some, working remotely means staking a claim at a local coffee shop. For others, it’s staying home in sweats, rarely emerging during daylight hours.
And then there are the lucky ones, the digital nomads — who somehow fit working in with hitting the beach.
In any case, working from home means you’ll develop your own habits — some good and others bad.
And worst case scenario, you’re looking at a day marred by procrastination, isolation, and our favorite — digital loafing.
Here are some ways to strike a balance. Even if it sounds miserable right now, you’ll thank us down the road.
7 healthy habits for remote workers
1. Don’t forget about your friends
One of the hardest parts of remote work is revealed within the name — it’s isolating at times. We lack the camaraderie of a traditional office plan, occasionally pining for idle chatter about that new lunch spot down the street or how Bob from accounting spent the weekend.
Without the built-in interaction, you’ll find in a traditional office; solo workers must “make their own fun,” so to speak.
While it can be challenging to close the laptop from time to time, giving yourself the space to do something leisurely like grab lunch with a friend, go to a happy hour, or have some people over for a meal can do you a lot of good.
There’s always going to be something you could be doing — whether that’s fine-tuning your website or digging around for new leads.
But, when you start skipping too many events, the invitations may eventually dry up. Friends assume you can’t do anything or feel rejected after too many “nos.”
On the flip side, remote work is a relatively new way of life, and for that reason, many people don’t “get” why you’re not always available.
Explain (nicely) to friends and family that you will not be available during specific working hours, and stick to them. Over time, those people will begin to get the message that your flexibility doesn’t mean you can shirk your responsibilities at any given moment.
2. Invest in good nutrition
Eating well is hands down one of the best things you can do to stay sane, energized, and focused. It’s well documented at this point that nutrition plays a significant role in making sure our brains are operating smoothly.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you stock the kitchen with healthy options. Even the most productive workers among us wander into the kitchen out of boredom, especially if you know that it’s packed with sweet and salty treats.
Save the junk food for the odd occasion and don’t keep in the house. Instead, load up on fruits, veggies, and some quick protein sources.
3. Find a productive workspace
It’s critical that you carve out a designated workspace in your home. Now, many people have some constraints—there might not be enough space for a full-on home office. Still, you can always create a workspace in the corner of a room — dedicated just to work.
What we’re getting at is, you need to create a physical distance between your work and your life outside of work.
The reason for this is, having a designated workspace kicks your brain into gear — going into your office each day provides a trigger that says, “get to work” and will, ideally, help you fight distractions.
The second part of this is building in environmental changes. If you work from a home office, spending a few hours working from a coffee shop or the local library can give your creativity a bit of a boost.
4. Stop multitasking. Seriously.
Look around in any working environment — the coffee shop, the coworking space, and so on — and chances are you’ll see several folks looking at phones while emailing, writing, or working on some presentation slides.
We like to think we’re skilled at multitasking — it makes us feel like we’re checking off to-do list items like a badass.
But, multitasking also means we remember less and make more mistakes. And, if you’re trying to promote a greater sense of well-being, these little mistakes can be sources of stress and shame down the road.
Think about it, when a client gets back to you with a laundry list of mistakes, it sucks, right?
Practice doing one thing at a time. Set a timer — for say, 20 or 30 minutes at a time. Initially, it may be difficult to do just one thing at a time, but practice makes perfect. Over time, you’ll find that you’ve improved your turnaround time and accuracy.
5. Learn to leverage your mental capacity
When you’re working from home, failing to be productive means that you’re leaving money on the table.
It’s not like the days at the office where, despite those post-lunch slumps, you can still count on money coming in at a predictable interval.
So, when there’s a disconnect between your work and your mental state—focusing becomes this uphill battle. As such, you’ll want to adapt your work habits to your energy levels.
Many people are more detail-oriented in the morning or more creative during the evening.
At first, you might want to start tracking these things. You probably already know whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, but diving deeper into your natural rhythms can help you tap into a productive routine.
6. Take some time to tidy up
It’s hard not to develop a case of “it’s my office, I’ll do what I want.”
A messy desk or a poorly equipped office will hinder productivity — and clutter the mind. Studies have shown that clutter can contribute to stress, procrastination, and a lack of focus — all killers for an effective day spent working from home.
If your desk is in a state of disrepair, spend just 15 minutes throwing out the La Croix cans, coffee cups, and energy bar wrappers. We promise it will make a world of difference.
Invest in things like calendars, planners, and the pens you like most, but keep the office supplies to a minimum.
7. Take action against Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome, a term that’s been around since the 1970s, has gotten a lot of play in the media over the past few years. The term refers to a phenomenon, primarily in high achieving women that feel as though they are intellectual phonies.
We bring this up because imposter syndrome can do a number on your motivation. Because you don’t witness colleagues’ activities, you might find yourself comparing yourself to others in similar positions — better credentials, a style you like better than your own, the list goes on.
When you’re off on your own, managing your time with little oversight, you’re also spending a lot of time alone without any feedback—and in some cases, may feel like a fraud.
Keep tabs of your achievements and positive feedback you receive — and check in with your remote connections from time to time.
Healthy habits mean a lot more than simply eating more vegetables. From a productivity standpoint, your job is to create routines that work for you and stick to them.
Get dressed every day and ditch the Doritos. Make your home office a personalized productivity center — and for God’s sake, drink water.
How you deal with the challenges associated with working from home will set the tone for your success down the road — a productive life with the space for friends, family, and a little alone time, too.