Working Remotely? 5 Ways to Establish an Effective Work Routine

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Contributed by Katherine Egan

Seems the universe threw us a curveball. What used to be “normal” has shifted into something new. Most of us are working remotely, isolated in our homes, away from extended family and friends.

Establish a routine and create an office-like environment at home. This will help you cope with circumstances of separation from your regular work life and feelings of isolation from coworkers, friends, and family. It may also improve your productivity and focus on work.

  1. Create a schedule. If you’re working at home, you probably wake up a little later, since you no longer have a commute. But make sure you get up at a regular time to get ready for your new commute, whether it’s to the couch or a desk in the den. Encourage your family to do the same. 
  2. Prepare for the part. Take your morning shower and fix your hair like you normally do. Working at home doesn’t mean you spend the day in your pajamas, like you’re having a sick day or it’s the weekend. Get dressed for work, even if what you’re wearing is appropriate for casual Fridays. If you normally wear makeup and jewelry, remember to do that, too. There’s a good chance you’ll have a Zoom meeting today! You want to look your best.
  3. Set spatial boundaries. If you have the room for it, create a space that’s designated only for work activities and away from distractions. When you finish work for the day, make it part of your routine to sit somewhere else. Go to a different room, if possible. If you’re working at the kitchen table, use one chair for eating and another for office work.
  4. Keep time. Set specific work hours; you probably don’t work 24/7 when you’re in the office and this shouldn’t change when you’re working at home. Schedule time for meals and breaks. If family members or roommates are working at home as well, stagger your online meetings so they don’t interrupt each other with noise or compete for bandwidth. Set a reminder to get up every hour to move your body. Go outside for fresh air and sun, while practicing social distancing, of course. Also, ensure everyone in your household has some alone time.
  5. Routines help the kids If you have children at home, remember that their lives have been disrupted, as well. Establishing a routine will help them–and you–maintain a sense of structure and stability, and ease anxiety. What they’ll remember about this period is how they felt during those weeks more than what they did or did not get to do. 

Stay well and take care of yourself and your family.

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