How to work remotely without going crazy

Since last year, most countries have introduced restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us have moved from working in the office to working from home. For most, this was a new and unexpected situation.

Reflecting on the topic of remote work, I wanted to prepare a list of activities that will allow us to avoid lack of concentration, constant monotony, and being at work 24 hours a day. I designed the proposals based on my own and my friends’ experiences, who, just like me, work most of the time remotely.

Work-life balance

The most important rule that we should keep in mind is the separation of professional and private life. A separate workplace in the form of a desk instead of working everywhere (especially in bed) can motivate us to sit down and do our work instead of dragging it all day long.

It is worth setting your working hours and informing your team about it. Introduce a routine similar to arriving at the office at similar times each day can eliminate the urge to work all day. It is also a protection against late hours calls that “it is just a small change” or “you are at home, you can do it today”.

An attractive solution that can help, especially at the beginning of remote work, is day planning. At the end of the work, we should prepare a list of tasks to be done the next day.

You may ask what about delayed and not done tasks. What failed today is postponed to the next day. This allows you to mentally clear your mind and stop constantly thinking about work and tasks that have not been completed. We can also focus better on work because we know what we want to achieve.

Watch out for distractions

Who at work has not felt the urge to check e-mail or Facebook? I will not believe that you are not tempted to peek even for a moment. Many times I caught myself wasting much more time instead of a planned short break.

It is especially dangerous in remote work because there is no boss or anyone to watch over what we are really doing. Often a moment for an episode of a series on Netflix ends with a few hours’ screening. But what later? Probably sitting late at night to get the job done. Frequently notifications on Slack or Discord also can be disturbing.

It is not always possible to completely eliminate distractions. It also often brings more trouble than good. Personally, I use quiet music as a background to not sit in silence, which is often very tiring.

Remember about breaks

Breaks during work are necessary to be able to work effectively. What’s the best way to take breaks? The best way is to get to know your work style and use a method suited to us.

One of the suggestions may be Pomodoro technique (time blocks). Having a specific block of time, we try to focus and complete the tasks. After the time is up, we stop and take a short break. It can be troublesome to determine how long we should work within one block. It may be 30 minutes, while for others, it may be even an hour. Personally, I prefer to take breaks both when the time is up and when I feel that I cannot concentrate fully.

Another solution may be to define the scope of work that we want to perform. If we do everything before the appointed time, we take a break. The reward can be a coffee, favorite series, or other things that is important to us. The most important thing is for us to feel that completing the task faster than expected has been properly rewarded. However, we must remember that even if we fail to do everything, it is still worth taking a break after the set time (combined with the previous method).

Outside of work

Work is essential, but you also need to rest. Even a short walk can positively influence your attitude, well-being, and health. Going shopping or playing sports (even a short exercise at home) can make a difference.

It is worth departing from the stereotype of an IT specialist (known as a nerd) sitting in front of a computer all the time and eating fast foods. Taking care of your health may pay off in the future. Life is a marathon rather than a sprint, so we should be aware of the impact of work on our health.

Visit the office

This may be tough these days, but hopefully, the epidemiological situation will normalize. Already, many companies allow their employees to show up in the office.

It is crucial to show up at the office, even if you can’t often. The remote worker cannot be seen. It is not known what he is doing and whether he is working at all. You can work hard without being appreciated by the company or management.

The best solution is to be visible, even on Slack or another communicator. Informing about the work progress or publishing even preliminary drafts may reduce the surprise that we exist.

Summary

Remote work is not as scary as it seems at first. A well-separated private and business life allows us not to go crazy when we are working from home. By reducing the problem of lack of concentration, the monotony of work, and loneliness that can bother us when working from home, we can achieve very good results.

Many of my friends who have so far only worked in the office appreciate this form of work. What do you think about it? Maybe you have your insights that you want to share? The comments section below is for you!