Remote work is awesome! You can set your own schedule, slip away to your kid’s soccer game, start a load of laundry before midnight. Until it’s not. Working from home can also get tedious — going hours without anyone to talk to or trying to finish just one more task before clocking out. When the monotony of your days stretches on, it can be challenging to stay on task. Relax! Making a few simple changes in your daily routine can help prevent burnout, and even keep your fire fueled.
1. Break it to make it
When you were in the office, you probably got up from your desk once in a while to see if there were any good snacks in the breakroom. Or maybe you wandered by someone’s desk to see what they were working on. Perhaps you simply turned to your coworker and asked if they had any Minecraft tips. Every little break gave your brain a second to recharge.
But when you work from home, there aren’t any socially acceptable in-office distractions. You may even feel you need to stay completely focused. All. Day. Long. It’s OK to take a break. In fact, you should plan on it. Set a timer if you need.
That doesn’t mean you need to completely stop what you’re doing. Simply standing up to look out the window, or walking to your own kitchen to refill your water bottle, can give your body and mind a respite. Do take longer breaks every couple of hours — and at least 30 minutes for lunch.
2. Switch up the view
Even if you’re not going into an office, you’re not required to stay inside your home. Instead of sitting in your usual spot, spend the morning working outdoors — on the patio, on your balcony or under a tree. If you don’t have an outside space of your own, head to the park. (Not a dog park, unless you really want to be distracted.) Weather not amenable? Head to a coffee shop or the public library.
3. Start drinking … water
One of the easiest ways to keep your natural energy up when you WFH is almost too easy. It’s simply this: Drink more water. According to a study by Harvard University, staying hydrated improves cognition, mood and sleep quality. Sorry, your 32-ounce thermos of cola doesn’t count. You don’t have to stick with plain water, but experts agree it’s better to skip the sugar-sweetened beverages.
4. You need to move it, move it
You no longer need to do covert stretches while sitting at your desk. Now you can stand up and try an actual workout. Head outside for a walk around the neighborhood, run around the park or hop on your bike. Getting your heart pumping for 10 minutes — or more! — means your blood is circulating and your brain is getting loads of oxygen. You’ll come back refreshed and a bit more relaxed. Just imagine, fresh ideas flying from your fingertips as you type that next report.
5. Never forget a face
While you may be more productive working in silence — or with your favorite tunes in the background — it can get a bit lonely. Even introverts enjoy seeing someone else’s face once in a while. Instead of living in your own world everyday, visually reach out to your coworkers occasionally. Planning to send an email? Try a Slack chat instead. Have a series of small questions? Schedule a video call.
You can even consciously plan socializing time. For instance, open the first few minutes of a meeting with talk about non-work, irrelevant stuff — weekend plans, annoying neighbors, current TV binge. You’d probably do it if you were in the office, right? Working from home doesn’t mean you need to turn into an impersonal automaton. Keep those connections alive.
6. Get out, get out, get out
You know when you just can’t take it anymore — your back hurts, the ideas aren’t coming and you’re checking Slack or email every minute for a distraction? When those moments arrive, it’s time to make a change. Get up, go out, touch some grass. Simply getting away from your desk, even for 10-15 minutes, can make a huge difference in your energy level and brain clarity.
Go outside and pull a couple of weeds. Lie down and listen to a couple of songs. Watch a couple of YouTube videos. Set a timer so you know when it’s time to go back to work, so you can live in the moment.
7. Admit to feelin’ lazy
Feeling like your remote work productivity is in a slump — or sliding faster than a sled on a steep slope? Acknowledge that you don’t feel like you’re working as hard as you did in the office. Then, consider what you are getting done. Unless you’re getting behind or not completing projects as promised, you’re likely doing more than you realize. Make daily goals that might stretch you a bit, but are something you can accomplish. Just knowing you’re making progress helps your mind relax. It will also help you let go at the end of the day.
8. Quit like you mean it
When it’s quitting time, do you tend to linger? It’s hard to set boundaries when you WFH, because the computer is right there. Decide on your checkout time, and stick to it. Set a timer for yourself. When it chimes — or plays “Ode to Joy” perhaps — you’re done. Turn everything off, push in your chair and walk away.
A 2023 Stanford study found that 40% of workers in the U.S. are working at home in either a hybrid or fully remote position. Want to join them? KSL Jobs has remote work listings — take a look to find the job for you.