Our team at Gable is fully remote, so we came up with our best tips on organizing your day when working from home or remotely.
For many office workers, the idea of organizing their own workday is counterintuitive — after all, their managers prioritize their workload, assign tasks and deadlines, and supervise their performance on sight.
For remote employees — and there are more of them by the day — organizational abilities can make or break offsite work experience. Without physical supervision, peer pressure, and the experience of walking into the office, even small tasks can seem daunting, and motivation can plummet.
On the other hand, the productivity of remote workers has been highly praised, so how does this correlate with organizing time? Here are some tips and tricks from our fully distributed team on how to best manage your day:
The promise of remote work lies almost entirely in acknowledging that people are different, and so are their productivity peaks. The realization that some people enjoy fixed hours while others prefer flexibility in their day is what remote work is built on.
Take a good look at what your day usually looks like — when you wake up, whether you have a dog to walk, children to get to school, or all of the above. Some of us prefer getting work done sooner, while others are more productive at different times of the day.
If the usual 9-to-5 works for you, communicate with your team and let them know your availability. If flexible work hours or a different breakdown of your day fit your productivity better than standard hours, write down your schedule. Discuss availability with your managers and team members and let them know when you’re available for meetings and chats.
Having in mind that remote work usually relies on outcomes rather than hours spent working, it should be fairly simple to align with team members, especially if all sides communicate clearly and are open to accommodating other people’s schedules.
Creating a morning routine is often overlooked when discussing productivity at work, but it can mean the difference between a productive remote employee and an unmotivated one.
Consider your morning habits and the impact they have on the rest of your day. A productivity trick is to plan your day while you’re having your morning coffee (or even the night before). Having a clear vision of your priorities and tasks for the day can help you overcome the anxiety of sitting at your desk, unsure where to start.
Another great idea is sorting out your inbox before you start work — this way, you won’t lose time figuring out who needs an urgent response when you’ve already started the workday.
Planning and time management are among the most desirable traits of remote workers. Optimizing our time and using it efficiently is the ultimate goal of every employee trying to juggle being productive and well-rested.
One of the basic tricks in the organizing playbook is making to-do lists and prioritizing our assigned tasks. However, what many people don’t know before embarking on this habit is what those lists should be.
If your to-do list is too long, it’s highly likely you won’t be able to cross everything off it. It’s not a matter of your productivity, but you setting the bar too high. The same goes for goals that are not achievable in the short term or without your team’s help or input. Structure your to-do list realistically and give yourself credit for doing the best you can. Assessing the time it takes to complete a task will get better the longer you write things down, so don’t beat yourself up for not having a perfect streak right away.
Last but not least, find a planning system that works for you! Nowadays, there are many tools for everyone’s planning taste: paper planners, journals, digital planners, to-do apps, and reminders. Find one that fits the purpose and your style and habits, and it will set you up for success.
One of the most useful tips for a better organization is not to delay the most important tasks. Whenever possible, start your day with the most challenging thing on your plate or the most urgent one.
The first few hours in the workday is the time when you’re most motivated and eager to get things done. Use this energy to offload the priorities and leave the smaller duties for later in the day.
While office workers can easily switch to “work mode” as soon as they arrive at the office and sit at their desk, the remote workforce needs to make a work atmosphere by themselves. There are a few ways to achieve the optimal working environment, depending on your work and requirements.
The essential step for those working from home is finding the corner in the house where you’re comfortable. If you are lucky enough to have a separate home office — congratulations! You get to move the desk and chair around until you find the perfect alignment.
For the home workers without a spare room, the situation is a bit different. They can find themselves shuffling around from the bed to the couch without much success. We recommend using the kitchen or dining table and setting it up like a small office. Ensure you can accommodate your laptop and the rest of the equipment without the setup being too cramped. Try working from the same place every day, which will help your brain adjust to the idea of focusing at this particular location. The couch is where you lounge and watch Netflix — no wonder big ideas don’t come at you while sitting there.
If your company is remote-friendly or fully distributed, make sure to use the home office setup policies and allowances. These reimbursements and budgets can go a long way in transforming your home from a distraction to a proper workplace.
Finally, remote work doesn’t have to mean working from home. Companies that invest in their employees, especially in their remote work capacities, will happily provide you with a stipend for a workspace you can use whenever you need to. And with companies like Gable, you don’t even have to commute: inspiring workspaces are now in residential areas and neighborhoods, providing remote workers the opportunity to do their best work, but not at home.
The outfit you’re in may not impact your productivity, but it’s definitely a factor for many people. While some remote employees enjoy working in their PJs, others notice the change in focus that comes with dressing up just a bit. If you work from home, start by putting on the comfiest jeans and a sweater. If you notice any difference in your attitude, speed of work, or just overall mood, try dressing up at least twice a week to power up your productivity. If you work from a neighborhood workspace or any other place outside of the home, chances are you’ve got this covered.
Here’s another obvious but often overlooked and hugely important tip. Taking breaks is essential both for your wellbeing and for your focus. Whether you choose the Pomodoro technique or opt just to stretch your legs and look away from the screen every hour, make sure you do it often.
And while you’re taking a break, it’s a good idea to grab a glass of water every time, especially if you enjoy snacking while at your desk. Getting enough water is crucial for health and productivity, and your body will thank you for achieving that water intake goal every day.
People who work remotely enjoy many freedoms and upsides to their workdays: flexible hours, the lack of commute, and the possibility to organize their day how they prefer. One of the downsides of remote work, however, is potential loneliness and isolation.
If you’re using the benefits of neighborhood workspaces, at least occasionally, you can use this chance to meet your team, brainstorm ideas with them, and just get to engage with them face to face.
If you’re working from home, though, the interactions may have to be more deliberate. Sometimes it’s easy to just focus on your work and do it in silence, especially if the task demands it, but it’s a good idea to schedule team Zoom calls just to catch up and chat. Pinging your manager or colleague for help or direction with a task can help you feel less alone. Slack channels for topics like pets and movies can also go a long way in creating connections and a sense of belonging essential in the workplace.
Be creative and try to think about ways to connect and engage with your team even if you can’t see them all day every day — your happiness at work will undoubtedly increase.
Finally, the key to success for remote professionals is maintaining a good work-life balance. It’s easy to be tempted to work non-stop, which can lead to burnout, so make sure you set clear boundaries that your colleagues will respect and you will adhere to. Make sure to get enough rest in your time off, spend time with your friends and family, and enjoy your favorite activities.
If your company offers any remote perks such as wellness budgets and allowances, make sure to use them. Investing money into employees’ well-being is a great motivator for them to engage in activities that increase wellness and mental health.
We at Gable believe remote professionals to be the workforce of the future. Empowering them to do their best work means trusting them, investing in their needs and well-being. One of the best ways for remote employees to achieve their productivity goals is to work from an inspiring, clean, and well-designed workspace.