After two months of remote working, the daily grind has probably evolved from an initial shock to the system to something resembling a typical working day. You have likely become more accustomed to digital meetings and fewer interruptions at your desk, but are you hitting peak productivity and completing everything you need to get done?
Now that the novelty has worn off, it is a great time to optimise your schedule to better support your working day.
Maintain a daily structure
You should now have some sort of routine in place, but it is always important to keep on top of your working hours and sleep schedule. If you have been staying up too late recently or sleeping in because you no longer have to face up to a daily commute, try to reset your biological clock.
You should go to bed and get up at the same time each morning and create a schedule for working days that are ideal for everyone at home. If you have a family with children, you will need to provide them with structure and purpose.
Planning kids’ activities in advance, either on your own or with a partner before a new week, will enable you to focus your efforts on important work. Be sure to set clear boundaries for working spaces and establish times when you will be ‘off-limits’. Discussing things in detail and negotiating with your family will make it easier for you to hit peak productivity.
Dress smart casual, get comfortable
It can be tempting to sit around in a favoured pair of pyjamas during working hours, but this can send a signal to your brain that you are not really ready for hard work over an eight-hour period.
When you get up, take a quick shower and put something on that looks smart but still offers a degree of comfort for home-based work. A full suit and tie are probably a bit much, but if it helps you get into the zone and offers some sense of normality, then it’s not a bad idea.
The main thing is to change out of the clothes you got up in. Simply brushing your hair, putting on clean garments, and having some breakfast will prepare you for a productive working day.
Don’t sit in one position
Take advantage of the flexibility of remote working by getting up for five minutes every hour to walk around the room, or simply take a break.
Sitting in one position for extended periods of time can be bad for your back, especially if you don’t have a perfect posture. You are also likely to struggle with hitting peak productivity if you don’t take some time away from your desk during the day.
Working in short bursts is a great way to keep the blood circulating. To do this effectively, set a productivity timer for 30 to 40 minutes. Focus all of your energies on completing tasks during that period and then reward yourself with a five-minute rest. Then go through the process again.
This sort of intense focus and release will keep the brain fresh and creative during the day and can prevent you from flagging in the mid to late afternoon.
Save your coffee for mid-morning
Drinking a cup of coffee can boost your energy levels, but experts believe that it may be best to delay the consumption of a cup or two until later in the morning.
This is because the stress hormone cortisol is at its peak when you awake from your slumber. Having coffee between 9:30am and 11:30am when your cortisol is lower will have more of an energising effect and help to enhance your alertness and focus.
As an extension from coffee, you should also look to eat the right food during the day to maintain your energy levels. Unhealthy snacks containing lots of sugar can lead to slumps, which is not conducive to getting things done.
Tailor your schedule to your biological prime time
A person’s energy, focus and motivation peak and trough during the day regardless of how well they eat and drink. It is natural that at some points, you will feel more productive and ready to work. You must recognise these peaks and tailor intensive workloads and important tasks to suit your biological prime time.
Even the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos, isn’t immune to periods of lower productivity. The Amazon CEO always insists that ‘high IQ’ meetings take place at 10am as this is when he will be most alert and able to make the best decisions.
A person’s prime time is always different as some are natural early risers while others are night owls. Recognising when you are at your most creative and energetic will enable you to get work done more efficiently when at home.
Improve and decorate your workspace
If you are lucky enough to have a separate room to work in during this time, you can make it feel more like a workspace with upgrades and home improvements.
Depending on your industry, your employer may have already confirmed that remote working will be continuing for the foreseeable future. Now is a great time to put a bit more time into making your workspace more comfortable.
You could invest in an ergonomic desk and chair and add some greenery and art to the walls and surroundings to create more of a personal home office haven. Buying a few quality tools to support your job can also inspire you and make remote working more enjoyable. A dual monitor setup, for example, could make you more productive during certain tasks.
You shouldn’t forget about new software installs and updates either. New apps and digital tools can streamline core tasks and reduce the time it takes to get things done. To conclude, just a few changes to your daily routine can minimise the distractions of being at home and support a more productive and enjoyable work-life balance.