Having a routine is essential to create a sustainable work-life balance. For many people, creating a routine is not easy, yes, myself included. Having a lack of routine in our lives is the reason why many of us struggle to be successful in our careers and life.
Trial and error
When you start working from home, it’s important to experiment and try different work routines to evaluate when you are most productive.
Think about your lifestyle and commitments and how they might impact when you start and finish work.
Everyone works differently, and some employers will be more flexible than others. If you’re working for a fully-distributed company, which has a workforce all over the world, then they are going to be more flexible.
Many remote workers prefer to work a few hours in the morning and then work the remaining hours in the late afternoon. Others work late into the evening, so the day is free for activities because it’s quieter.
Don’t feel you have to work the same routine every day. You might want to work to one schedule on Monday to Wednesday, then another Thursday and Friday.
Unplug from work
When working from home, it is easy to keep being connected and working without any breaks and relaxation. It’s important to set expectations with employers and clients so they know you are not contactable 24/7.
Some people will take advantage if you are not careful.
As mentioned, having a remote work routine is important, but so is taking time out of the day to exercise, get fresh air and disconnect from work.
Highly recommended is a workspace in a part of the home which is hidden away, like a spare room or bedroom.
Having your workspace and laptop in the living room will result in continuously being in work mode. If you use your mobile phone for work, make sure notifications are disabled after your day is completed.
It’s important to remember why you opted for working from home. The majority of remote workers want freedom and flexibility in their life, so don’t let work take over.
Look at productivity techniques
We’ve discussed work routines but another area to explore is productivity techniques, which can help you keep motivated and get work done.
The Pomodoro technique is worth looking into, especially if you are easily distracted.
The way it works is simple: take a task that will take around 25 minutes and set a timer. After this time, take a 5-minute break and continue for another 25 minutes. Once you’ve completed 4 rounds of 25-minute sessions, take a 15 minute break.
You’ll find this keeps you focused and reduces procrastination.
Productivity is increased further, if you spend 10-15 minute at the end of the day, writing down the tasks needing to be completed the next day. The result is, you jump straight into work instead of procrastinating planning your workday.
Communication is essential
It does not matter if you are an employee, freelancer or entrepreneur, communication skills are essential to successfully working from home. As mentioned in this article, setting boundaries and expectations is important.
Firstly, communicate with your household that you are going to be working from home. Set boundaries, and inform them you do not want to be disturbed while working. Of course, this is complicated if you have children at home.
Next, communicate with clients and colleagues, regularly. There isn’t such a thing as over-communication when it comes to working remotely. Many companies Slack to send text messages, images but also host video and audio calls.
Recommended is creating non-work Slack channels about topics such as health, fitness, travel and entertainment. You can then build relationships with colleagues outside of work and learn more about them.
Communicating your work routine for the day or week to colleagues and managers will help with the setting of expectations.
Again, if you use Slack, make use of the notifications feature, so your team is informed of your work availability, especially if you work with colleagues on different timezones.
Get to grips with timezones
While we are on the subject of global workforces, when creating your work routine bear in mind that you might have colleagues working in various different time zones, e.g. the US alone has six for you to get to grips with!
On your mobile phone use the world time feature and set the time in the timezones your colleagues or clients are working in.
For freelancers, it’s important to know what timezone your clients are in.
Where possible try and be around to communicate with them around those times. If you’re in Kuala Lumpur, and your client is in the US, then working in the evening might be more advantageous.
Don’t make your work routine strict unless your employer or client is wanting you to work a specific time. Give yourself plenty of time to do the things you enjoy in life, alongside working hard and getting work done.