The key to successful remote working is learning how to self-care.
Learning how to take care of yourself, as much as you take care of your work is one of the key points when it comes to working remotely and successfully. These are my tried and tested tips for success.
Self-care when working remotely
When I tell people that I work from home, I can tell by the look on their faces that apart from being extremely jealous, they think I do absolutely nothing except sit on social media and chain smoke all day. They are only half right because the rest of my time is spent working into the early hours of the morning and slogging it out to meet three or four deadlines that are all due at the same time.
Their second assumption is that working remotely, most days I do not get dressed and just chill in my pyjamas, drinking coffee and talking to my cats. Again, they would be half right but over the last year I have had to work very hard to ensure that I take care of myself as much as I take care of my work. Now don’t get me wrong, it is not that my cats aren’t great conversationalists, but sometimes you need to remember that it’s important to engage with reality every so often.
It takes a special kind of person to be able to work both remotely and successfully. Many people that try it often struggle with issues such as motivation, loneliness, and sometimes even boredom. This is why self-care when you work remotely is extremely important – after all, there is no HR department to help you out.
I like to think I have mastered the delicate balance between mitigating the negatives, and relishing in the positives, and I thought it was only fair to share with you just how I do it and manage to stay sane at the same time.
Talk to other human beings
I must admit that there have been days where it gets to around 9pm and I realise that I have not spoken to another person all day. In a world of email and instant messaging, remembering to engage verbally is more important than ever.
Whether it is picking up the phone to speak to a client instead of sending a Skype, or taking the time to call a friend for a quick natter during a coffee break, verbal communication is incredibly important for both wellbeing and focus.
Take care of your health
Not only are you probably sitting behind a desk for hours every day, but the chances are the only exercise you get is if you are walking to your car or walking to the shop to buy a carton of milk. Since I have started working remotely, I have noticed that I have had to up the ante in the way I look after my physical health, and this has included making big changes to my diet and exercise regime.
Less physical activity means I noticed the kilos creeping on and the decrease in the number of mornings I would run after the bus had a similar effect. Remember that a healthy diet and exercising will increase your mental wellbeing, motivation, and help you manage stress as well, so taking extra care of these matters will help you in more ways than one.
Get yourself into a routine
This is one of the most important tips that I learnt very early on in my remote-working career. Although the temptation is there to sleep in, get up around noon, dance around to Beyoncé in your underwear, snack and then settle down to work at around 4pm – this is not productive.
Although you are your own boss and the master of your own destiny, that doesn’t mean you should let your discipline slip. Set your alarm for the same time every morning (before noon please), schedule your time and tasks, make sure you take breaks to do point 1 and point 2, and most importantly – stick to it.
Adhering to a routine will help you focus, relieve stress, and be more productive, because after all, you are a big, grown up, responsible adult now and if you drop the ball, you only have yourself to blame.
Experience some daylight
I am the sort of person that gets so engrossed in my work that a nuclear war could be going on outside in my street (to be fair, sometimes it does sound like that) and I would not bat an eyelid. Whilst this is great for my productivity levels, it does mean that it can be difficult to prise my body from my office chair and drag me kicking and screaming into the sunlight.
Although it can be tempting to sit and work all day, you are not going to burst into flames if you step outside your door for a bit of fresh air, and as a living, breathing organism, you actually do need a bit of sunlight to, you know, live.
Take yourself for a walk, go work outside a nice little café somewhere, or just sit and read a book for half an hour in your garden – you, your body, and your mind need it!
Okay, whilst this one is not strictly self-care, I find that it falls under that category because it stops me from losing the plot on a daily basis.
Working remotely means that you can have a schedule that fluctuates an awful lot and you will find some days more overwhelming than others. Another point is that you don’t have a boss or line manager breathing down your neck or chasing you for XYZ bit of work, so it is up to you to stay on top of your deadlines. Whilst there are all sorts of fancy programmes out there to help you plan your time, I do tend to stick to my trusty pencil and paper.
Writing the day’s tasks down in order of importance allows me to focus and feel a little blush of achievement after I tick each one off. Setting yourself goals and sticking to them is how you get through the day, and the best bit is when you get to the bottom of your list and can crack open a bottle of wine (without feeling guilty).
Working from home, working remotely, being self-employed – they are not as easy as some people might believe, but that doesn’t mean I would swap them for anything else. Learning how to adjust to a new way of working, as well as making sure you are taking proper care of yourself is an integral part of your success and unless you want to end up listening to Beyoncé in your underwear all day, whilst drinking wine, talking to your cats and getting absolutely nothing done – it is definitely worth trying these tips!