Working from home comes a ton of benefits— flexibility in hours, freedom of location, and the ability to dictate your productivity. But with great freedom comes great responsibility. It can be easy to push ourselves to breaking points by biting off more than we can chew or forgetting to rest our minds every once in a while. For those of us who work remotely, self-care is an important practice that we should carry out not just in our time off, but in the hours we spend working as well.
We at The CoWork Space ascribe to (or at least, we try to!) these six ways of showing yourself some love as a remote worker:
- Build a work routine
- Escape content overload
- Avoid burnout
- Tell guilt goodbye
- Optimize your home office
- Take a vacation
Let’s dig in to these, shall we?
1. Build a work routine
Just because you can work without pants on doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. It may be tempting to pull your laptop into your bed as soon as you wake up and check emails and Slack, but for some, drawing a distinct line between work and off-time is necessary to get work done. Following a daily routine lets your mind know that it’s time to focus on work. No two routines will be the same; however, we’ve compiled a list of some common ways to get your workdays started.
- Set an alarm. The temptation to sleep in every morning is soooo real. However, studies show that establishing a regular sleep pattern has loads of benefits like improved concentration, productivity, and a stronger immune system.
- Make your own commute. Not having a commute is one of the perks of remote work, so you might be wondering what the heck we’re talking about. Here’s the thing: a commute doesn’t necessarily have to mean sitting in traffic; it can be something as simple as a walk around the block or a jog to the coffee shop down the street. Sometimes you just need something that gives you time to get out and reflect on the day ahead.
- Get dressed up. You probably don’t need to don slacks and a blazer, but consider something other than pajamas. It’s good to be comfy, but being too comfy may be counter-productive. So take a refreshing shower, throw on a clean outfit, and get ready for the new day.
- Start your day with exercise. Starting off the day with some sort of exercise can boost energy and ignite the endorphins in our bodies. So whether you prefer to run a few miles or are more comfortable with gentle stretches, move around to get the blood and brain juices flowing.
…and if working with no pants works for you, by all means, go for it!
2. Escape Content Overload
Slack notifications. Emails. Social media. An article telling you how to run your business and be successful. And another one saying that’s not how you do it. Oh, and your phone is also lighting up across the table.
Working from a device that’s connected to the World Wide Web is a blessing (after all, that’s how we are able to do our job from home) …but it can also be a curse. We are constantly bombarded with content everywhere we look. And quite frankly, it’s a bit overwhelming. So how do you escape it?
Start by holding yourself accountable. Log the time that you spend during the day doing specific tasks. Just like a food diary helps a dieting person stay accountable for what they eat, a time journal increases your awareness of how you are spending the day. Ultimately, it’ll encourage you to use your time more wisely.
Next, limit yourself to what’s important. What apps and websites do you need? What will help you achieve your goals for the day? Uninstalling apps that you don’t need can prevent you from mindlessly clicking and scrolling. Block distracting websites during work hours. Mute notifications. Don’t even allow yourself to be tempted!
While other people can certainly inspire and guide us, they aren’t you. Remember that you are the captain of your own unique journeys and they don’t have to look like someone else’s for you to be successful.
The amount of content isn’t the only thing to take into consideration; it’s what we are seeing. It’s important to realize that the content you see out there is based on other people’s experiences and shouldn’t necessarily dictate yours. It can be easy to get wrapped up in someone else’s stories and think, “That’s how I should be doing it.” We fall down rabbit holes trying to gather the best advice, whether it be related to business or personal matters. While other people can certainly inspire and guide us, they aren’t you. Remember that you are the captain of your own unique journeys and they don’t have to look like someone else’s for you to be successful.
3. Avoid burnout
Giving yourself a break when you need it is key to work-from-home self-care. Just as it’s important to tell yourself to start working, you also need to let your brain know when it’s time to stop. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelancing, or just working remotely for some cool company, we can push ourselves until we break. After all, there’s no one telling us it’s time to go home. Only we can prevent ourselves from getting to that point.
A lot of work is a good thing, but it can quickly become a bad thing if you don’t have a plan to tackle it. Start every work week by creating a schedule for the days ahead. Figure out what needs to get done and by when, and write it down on a calendar system that works for you. Of course, things come up unexpectedly, but you can respond more quickly when you have a clear understanding of everything else you’ve got going on.
You might also benefit from the structure that comes with setting work hours. It doesn’t necessarily have to be 9 to 5, but giving yourself a definite start and end time sets boundaries for your work life and reminds you when you’ve put in an honest day’s work. And the end of the day isn’t the only time you need a break; make sure you’re getting up every once in a while. Pausing for five to ten minutes every hour or so can do wonders for your productivity.
And as the wise Donna Meagle advises us in Parks and Recreation, don’t forget to treat yo self. Rewarding yourself for your hard work and accomplishments can be a vital element of self-care.
4. Tell Guilt Goodbye
One of the main reasons remote workers can fall into the trap of burning out is the guilt that comes with not working. We think about what we are missing out on— more money, another client, a promotion thanks to special effort. And most of us probably place a high value on hard work. We want to be able to earn our living and support ourselves and our families. So it’s natural that we feel bad when we aren’t working…but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Next time you start to feel that guilt creep up on you, stop and reflect for a moment. What else is important to you? Whether it be your family and relationships, other hobbies, or a pet, know that those areas in your life deserve time and attention as well. And if you still can’t shake the feeling of guilt, try to remember that by taking a break your work will actually be better. When you’re overworked and frazzled, you are not at your best. By resting and placing your attention elsewhere, you are working to improve your performance in the long run.
5. Optimize Your Home Office
For those who’d prefer to work home instead of a coffee shop or coworking space, creating an area in your home dedicated to work is important for maintaining a good work-life balance. Here are some tips for making your office a place where you actually want to get work done.
- Consider practicality and comfort over aesthetic. A quirky little vintage desk may look great in your office, but you may quickly discover it is too small for your laptop, journals, and files to fit. A cute upholstered chair may make a great photo for the ‘gram, but it will it support your back after you’ve been sitting for seven-and-a-half hours?
- Take in all the natural light you can. If you’re able, set up camp next to a window. Natural light can boost your mood, and it gives you something to look at besides a bright screen. If your office area is still feeling like a cave, add some lamps to illuminate your workspace and reduce eye strain.
- Pick a private place. Minimize distractions by finding a quiet area in your home. Working from a kitchen table may be easy, but your train of thought will be interrupted every time someone walks through or the refrigerator kicks on. If there’s no good place to get away, consider investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones that can take your mind to a nice, quiet space.
- Add a plant or two. Plants do more than just spruce up up the room. They filter out toxins around us and supply the air with fresh, crisp oxygen. And on top of that, science shows that plants can actually make us happier. If you are a notorious plant killer, opt for something low maintenance, like a succulent.
- Keep it clean. It can be easy to let junk pile up, but a cluttered office area can be a major distraction. If you deal with a lot of files and paperwork, consider purchasing an organization station. If your work requires electronic gadgets, find a way to keep cords nice ‘n tidy.
6. Take A Vacation
One of the biggest draws to remote work is the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection. This gives us the amazing opportunity to travel the world all while still makin’ that cash money. However, balancing vacation and work can be a challenge. Who wants to be cooped up working all day when there’s a whole new world outside just waiting to be explored? Luckily, there are some ways to balance the two.
- If possible, cut back on your hours. Set realistic expectations up front. Inform your clients or boss of your plans and let them know that you’ll be working less. (Of course, if you’re choosing to travel for an extended period, you might want to keep up with your normal schedule.)
- Plan it out. Make sure you have a good idea of what needs to get done before you leave. Don’t forget to factor in any time changes to deadlines or any conference calls that you’ll need to take.
- Combine work and exploring. Don’t confine yourself to a hotel business center. Find unique local places with WiFi to set up shop. You can learn tons about the culture and customs of other places by just being present.
- Take advantage of flights and travel time. Have a 12-hour flight? Spring for the WiFi and get as much done as you can during times where you can’t do anything else.
And keep in mind that we all need a true vacation from time to time. Even if it’s a stay-cation, take the time you need fully unplug and get away from work.
What are your favorite work-from-home self-care routines and habits? Let us know in the comments!
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