The average worker has been putting in two extra hours per day since remote work has become commonplace due to COVID-19. Working remotely in the middle of a pandemic has made us busier, more stressed, and more emotionally exhausted than ever. Too much work and a perceived lack of autonomy are some of the main sources of burnout, according to Venture Capitalist Tomasz Tunguz. Burnout is antithetical to focus and productivity.
We’ve curated some tips for a better work from home routine. This post will walk you through how to start your day off right, how to make the most of your lunch break, and how to get more done during your precious work hours.
A productive working life starts with a solid morning routine. To avoid burnout, try to ensure work doesn’t take over your whole life. This is especially difficult when you work from home. But, it is possible. We asked people how they’re unplugging from work when working remotely. Many said they benefited from continuing to “commute.”
Research shows that we can train our brains to associate certain places with specific thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
If you can, set aside a specific area of your home for work. Only work there. This teaches our brains to get into work mode when we’re there and to stop thinking about work when we’re not there. Another tip to get into the right mindset: Change into “work” clothes before you start working.
In his book When, Daniel Pink describes how everyone has a part of the day when their brain is primed for work that requires focused, linear thinking. And in another part of the day, free-association and creativity comes easiest.
One key to a productive morning is to do the work your brain is suited for at that time. For example, you don’t want to spend time on social media and checking your email when your brain is ready for deep work. If you don’t already recognize these patterns, the book has a guide for finding yours.
Research shows that people who take breaks during the workday can work longer hours yet feel similarly refreshed. And their work product is the same, or better. These breaks can be taking a walk, stretching, or just spending time disconnecting mentally from your work.
Of course, the modern workday has a break built into the middle of it. Many people, ironically, work through lunch for productivity. Rather than seeing lunch as optional, schedule it like any other appointment. Or, set up lunch events in Clockwise and we’ll make sure you have 30 minutes in the middle of your day for a break.
Many of us use our morning working hours for “deep work” and our afternoons for emails, Slack messages, and meetings. Or vice versa. As Deep Work author Cal Newport pointed out in a recent New Yorker article, these can quickly take over whole afternoons, or days.
Even short interruptions end up being incredibly costly to productivity. Brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of your productive time. That’s why highly effective workers often set up office hours for synchronous communication. This is also a much better time to catch up on asynchronous communication than when you’d otherwise be deep into a focus-intensive task.
Here again, Clockwise can help. We suggest times to meet that open up the most Focus Time for your and your team. Our Slack integration shows colleagues whether you’re available based on your calendar for better communication and fewer interruptions. We also make setting up and enforcing No Meeting Wednesdays (or whatever day your team chooses) easier for more heads-down time.
Boundaries between work and home life can increase productivity and help stave off burnout. You don’t want to be working right up until you set your alarm for the next morning.
Set and communicate your work hours to your boss and colleagues. The Clockwise Slack sync communicates your work hours to your team and reminds them when you are and aren’t available.
Rituals can also help differentiate work time and play time. After-work rituals can include:
Shutting your work computer down and switching to your personal computer
Changing into “play” clothes
Going on a walk
Getting up from your desk to move to the couch
Switching accounts or operating systems on your computer
Working remotely during the pandemic has meant more stress and less time for most of us. Luckily, small tweaks to your morning routine, lunch break, and work hours can supercharge your work from home routine.