There’s a lot that has been said and written about the benefits of remote work. Especially in this climate where you do not have that much say on it. It’s the new normal — for those not used to this arrangement.
Working from home seems fancy and flexible until you bombard yourself with a very long daily to-do list that may very well cater to the household more than your job. It is a daunting transition.
I am not saying either is wrong but maintaining that work-life balance is a priority that cannot be overstated.
There are typical working from home (WFH) traps that can lead to wasting too much time and energy and a significant blow to your business. You have to accomplish what you have set out to do and find satisfaction in your work even when you are WFH. In this article, we shall explore these time traps and how to prevail.
1. Giving in to constant home distractions
Distractions are everywhere, no matter your place of work. It’s quite different at home when you have a three-season binge-worthy TV show just staring right back at you. Or your non-colleagues wanting all your attention with this and that.
It might be a challenge to escape distraction in such situations or bounce back from them. But it is crucial to minimise them if you want to see any progress in the tasks you need to accomplish during the day.
How to avoid distraction
Identify your common distractions that take your eye off your work at home and block them out. The best way to do it is to create time blocks in your schedule. Self-discipline is key.
For example, allocate your morning hours to strictly doing work before anything else. If you know the kids will be a factor, ask for help from members of your family. Or wake up earlier than them and use the distraction-free hours to do the most important tasks first.
You can put your phone on airplane mode or completely place electronics out of sight to focus on work. If you have enough space, then a home office setting would be ideal for blocking distractions such as TV.
2. Delaying more significant tasks for later
Delaying the bigger and seemingly difficult tasks does not guarantee you will do them later. Or that you will complete other unfinished tasks on your list.
In a world full of distractions as mentioned, the further we delay something, the harder it becomes to do them.
Avoid procrastinating on bigger tasks by breaking them down into manageable chunks that you can finish within a specified time.
A prioritised to-do list helps you stay closer to your vision. Pick the most important tasks of the day (maximum 3) and break them down in order of priority. You can use time tracking apps such as Rescue Time to help stay on track with your goals.
3. Overworking Syndrome
With a flexible home schedule comes the “I am not working enough” guilt. This guilt can eat away at your core, and you may work way more hours than necessary without breaks. Working around the clock will only lead to losing steam quickly.
Just because you are working outside your typical work setting does not mean the work is insufficient or inefficient. Saying yes to everything even when you know you deserve a break will have you committing to a lot with little time to finish. Consequently, you will perform poorly, have low morale, or stay in deep work stress.
How to know when to quit
Time management begins with proper planning. The only difference here is the environment, but now your work life and personal life share the same roof. Establish a consistent work schedule at home and follow through the routine consistently.
You may leverage a piece of clothing that you can mentally associate with working. Wake up at the usual time, shower, prepare your food and then start work. Give yourself those breaks you take at work. When it’s time to end your workday, end it and tend to other things.
There’s only so much you can do. After work, clarify that you are only accessible for extremely urgent matters. Leave emails for work hours only. Learn when to say no. Use that time to catch up with life.
Do something unrelated to work, e.g. updating yourself with the latest news on social media or going for a run. If weekends were your off days, then rest during those days or spend that valuable time with your family.
4. Abusing the DIY approach
To work from home demands a lot of self-independence and self-motivation. However, it does not mean that you have to do everything by yourself. Besides, you can’t know everything. Avoid working in isolation.
How to avoid this
Do not lose touch with your colleagues. Take advantage of communication channels set in motion to keep in touch with them during meetings or otherwise.
If you are struggling, ask for help or advice from your colleagues. People are willing to help, so ask. If you can, delegate work to members of your team who are skilled to do the work to deliver to the best of their ability. Ask for clarity from your client to avoid wasting too much time on the project.
It’s essential to not only talk to them about work but to maintain those personal connections. So ask them how they are fairing on, their family, personal interests, etc.
5. Ignoring your sleep schedule
Being home all day and all night can distort your sense of timings. You know you don’t have to worry about the morning commute, hence you stay up more than usual to catch with your favourite series or social media platforms.
How to establish a bedtime routine
Since you wake up during your usual hours or even earlier, it’s crucial to stay within a schedule. And this includes a sleep schedule. You still need as much rest as possible to keep you fresh for the day.
Allot time for sleep and be stick with the schedule. Take off your “work clothes” and shower. Keep your phone away and sleep. Keep your body clock in check, and it shall grant you the right frame of mind for work.
Keep your bedroom space comfortable and inviting for sleep. Avoid taking caffeine drinks at night.
Be mindful of the common time traps that hinder getting work done at home efficiently. Then set the right boundaries for yourself within context.
You need to be focused even when working from to avoid pitfalls that can hinder your progress. However, this does not mean fully immersing yourself in work and completely ignoring your life. Finding the right balance is the key to having a healthy experience that will aid in achieving excellent results for your business or work.
What are the common traps you have encountered while working from home?