Our last post was about sustaining team culture when folks are remote. There are tons of tools and rituals to keep the team feeling bonded during work hours when everyone is remote. But how do we keep our individual sanity? How do we mentally delineate time between work and personal time? How do we create a sense of normalcy when we’re at home for so many hours?

As someone who’s worked remotely for over a decade, both for herself and for companies of all sizes, I’ve got some tips that I’d like to share with you.

Keep Normal Hours.
I list this first because it’s the most important. Have a set time for when you start and end your workday. Sleep the hours you normally would sleep. And this goes for normal eating hours, too.

Normal hours are the key to giving yourself structure. And will make it easier for you to interact with others.

Get Dressed Every Day.
It’s tempting to stay in your pajamas and not do basic hygiene. The act of showering, getting dressed, and brushing your teeth can help you mentally prepare for working time versus relaxing time. I find it helps me focus.

If I’m going to videoconference that day, I do my full hair and at least throw on a little bit of makeup. And even if I’m letting myself wear yoga pants that day, I wear a sweater I’d wear to the office as well.

Designate a Workspace.
For those that can, have an entire room set for your workspace. For folks that live in apartments like I have, try to at least NOT work in your bedroom or on your bed. Your bed is for sleeping and if you bring the stress of work to your bed, you will not sleep as well. trust me, I’ve tried it. It’s really hard to stop thinking about your to-do list that way.

If you live in a studio apartment, at least have an area of your apartment that is different than your workspace (I’ve lived this, too). And put your laptop away when you’re not working. It’ll help you feel like your workday is over and it’s time to relax. And the reverse is true, too. When you pull out your laptop, you’ll feel like your workday is beginning and it’s time to focus.

Communicate With Your “Co-workers.”
Chances are, you aren’t the only remote worker in your home. Roommates, spouses, family members, and children are probably also working or going to school remotely. To keep everyone sane, engage in open communications about call schedules so you can determine who gets the sound waves when. And also be very clear about when you are focusing on work and when you are focusing on your usual emotional relationship. What makes a great spouse for you may make a terrible coworker. And be patient as you adjust! It’s new for everyone.

Set hours for social media.
It’s super easy to dive down the Instagram, Tik Tok, LinkedIn or Facebook rabbit holes right now. Try to limit your social media time to specific breaks so you can stay focused. There are a number of Chrome plugins for helping you avoid specific websites so you can focus. I like Just focus. There are also focus apps for your mobile phone. A favorite of mine is Forest, which also works on Chrome. In this app, you grow virtual trees with each period of focus. Grow a forest with me!

Videoconference whenever you can.
There may be bandwidth issues with your company so it may not always be feasible. But when working remotely, seeing another’s face and body language can help you communicate a lot. It’s also a fantastic way to share screens and do work directly. I’m a huge fan of working sessions over meetings to talk about doing work later.

And this includes for networking purposes, too! Folks are an explosion of ideas right now…reach out to folks you like brainstorming with and schedule a videoconference! Google Hangouts is free. Zoom has free meetings for 3 people and up to 40 minutes.

Stay out of the kitchen outside of mealtimes.
It’s super easy to snack all day when working from home. Give yourself some boundaries by setting specific times for meals.

And even better, set some time in the morning and evening to exercise. When possible, I’ll go for a quiet walk outside (with proper social distancing and safety equipment during times of crisis). It gets the blood pumping and helps focus one’s energy.

Hopefully, these tips help you become a happy and productive remote worker!

Share your tips in the comments!