How to Work from Home Without Losing Your Mind: A Remote Worker’s Guide

Remote work. Sounds like a dream, right? Imagine being able to work from anywhere, roll out of bed ten minutes before the workday starts, and spend the day in your pajamas. Seems too good to be true.

However, if you’ve ever experienced this lifestyle, you’ve probably discovered that it’s not as easy as you might think.

As a remote worker, I had a similar experience. I had always pictured remote worklife to be the way to go, never thinking that there would be downfalls.

But, there are. And, they are many.

Besides the crushing loneliness away from coworkers and office friends, working from home offers plenty of distractions, and it can be difficult to separate your personal life from your work life when they feel so intertwined.

Believe me, I’ve been there. My first year as a remote worker offered some real struggles, so much so that I seriously considered giving up the freelancing career I had worked so hard for in favor of traditional office life. Luckily, I developed the proper tools to cope with the unique hardships of remote work. Now, I can’t imagine working any other way.

Here are my tried-and-true methods to survive and thrive in a remote work environment.

Create a morning routine

You’d think that one of the perks of remote work would be the ability to roll out of bed and work in your pajamas. In my experience, doing this can actually be detrimental to your work day. 

If you work in your pjs, it’s difficult to separate your resting time from your working time. When you sit down to start the day, you’ll remain slightly in sleep mode, and when you go to sleep, you’ll remain slightly in work mode. It doesn’t work for either situation.

woman putting on makeup
Don’t just roll out of bed and start working. Start your day right with a morning routine.

Instead, create a morning routine for yourself like you would if you were getting ready to go to the office. Make a cup of coffee and catch up on the news. Do your morning workout and take a shower. Do whatever it is you need to do to start your day.

Most importantly: change your clothes. 

You don’t have to put on full office gear, but you shouldn’t stay in the clothes that you slept in, either. I like to joke that I have my sleeping leggings and my workday leggings. I still work in comfort, but I have separate comfy clothes for work. It makes a huge difference.

Create a workspace devoted to work

Another supposed perk of a remote job is the ability to work from anywhere, including your bed. However, like working in your pajamas, this can create a less-than-ideal situation where you can’t fully focus on work or on properly relaxing.

Instead of working from your bed or couch, create a workspace for yourself. This can be an entirely separate office or it can be a designated corner of your kitchen table. The important part is that this area is where you do work and nothing else. 

Not only will this help you to train your brain to get into work mode when you sit in this location, but it will also let the members of your household know that when you’re in your workspace, it’s work time—no interruptions allowed.

Take advantage of the flexible remote schedule

Not all assumed perks of remote work are actually disadvantages in disguise. Some perks do exist, and they are fantastic. One of these is the ability to have a somewhat flexible schedule.

That’s not to say that you should forego a schedule altogether. If you work intermittently, that can cause a disorganization to your day that may drive you nuts. But, you don’t have to adhere to the typical 9-to-5 schedule if you don’t want to (as long as your position allows).

Person Going for a Walk
Don’t just stay at home all day. Take a break, and go for a walk—a safe activity even in social distancing times.

Take breaks throughout the day to go on walks. Move your exercise routine to the middle of the work day rather than the morning or the evening. Do extra work on one day so that you can take a half-day the next. 

When you work remotely, you don’t have to sit down at your workspace and bust out 8 hours of work at once. Split up your day in a way that works for you so that your days become more dynamic. It will help make you feel as though you have a healthy work-life balance rather than sitting at home on the computer all the time.

Keep in touch with your coworkers

A big thing that I miss while working remotely is commiserating with my coworkers. Your colleagues know the unique struggles that you go through, and without your work buddies, it’s easy to feel alone. 

To combat this, do your best to keep in touch with your coworkers. It can be helpful to message them throughout the day to check in, compare notes, and otherwise gab like you would in the office. This can help create an office vibe without actually being there.

Completely disconnect when your workday is done

When you’ve finished your workday, you need to be able to switch from work mode to relaxing mode. If you’re still connected to your email and other office work, then this is impossible.

Phone on Do Not Disturb
Set hard hours for yourself. When your workday is done, set it fully aside until tomorrow.

When your workday is over, make sure that it’s over. Turn off your email notifications. Shut down your computer. Let any phone calls go to voicemail. Pretend you’ve left the office, and you’re gone for the day.

If you’re unable to completely disconnect from your job, then try to check your emails and other messages intermittently. It’s important that you give yourself some downtime—working 24 hours a day isn’t healthy for anyone. 

Non-pandemic remote work tips

Part of the reason why remote work is so difficult at the moment is that, depending on where you’re located, COVID restrictions limit what you can do. This might turn you off from remote work completely. However, there are so many more things that you can do to make your remote work life a positive one in a non-pandemic world.

Work in a coffee shop or coworking space

Working in a coffee shop or coworking space can give you a similar feeling to working in an office without actually having to work in an office. You’ll often be surrounded by other remote workers, you’ll get out of the house, and you’ll enjoy a view besides your kitchen wall.

People Working in an Outdoor Coworking Space
The best part of remote work? You can work from anywhere! Take advantage of that.

Pro tip: Keep the receipts of anything that you buy while working in a coffee shop. You may be able to write them off as business expenses.

Connect with other remote workers

Even if they aren’t part of your industry, connecting with other remote workers can help you feel like you’re part of a community. Meet these new remote worker friends at a coffee shop or coworking space and complete your work next to each other. This will help provide the feeling of having colleagues that you can work with while still enjoying the remote work lifestyle.

Take your laptop and start traveling

The main reason why I will never be able to say goodbye to the remote worker lifestyle is my ability to travel the world. As a remote worker, I can buy a flight on a whim and be halfway across the world within a week without missing a single work day. It’s pretty amazing.

Start taking advantage of the remote lifestyle by traveling. You don’t have to be a globetrotter; exploring cities and towns around you can give you a taste of travel life without having to go far. 

Once you’ve awarded yourself with some of the perks of remote working life, like the ability to travel, remote working won’t seem so bad.

Like every new challenge, remote work simply takes getting used to. If you’re keen to adopt this style of work, it’s simply a matter of finding what best serves your style. Don’t give up so easily; once you find your groove, you might never want to step foot in an office again.

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