Millennials have been championing remote working long before the COVID-19 and have successfully transformed it into a desirable trend that’s been seeing global traction in the last few years, and more recently a global mandate. After all, what’s not to love about flexible hours, zero commutes, noiseless and crowdless workflows, and your own kitchen and bathroom?

Despite the irresistible perks of telecommuting, WFH newbies could feel disoriented at first as their office-habituated minds get reprogrammed in the middle of a global health crisis and mass panic. 

Does remote working get lonely, impractical, unbearable? If not done right, yes.

 Studies suggest that more than 80% of employees are more productive when remote working. But a lot of planning goes into achieving this number. 

Check out our hot tips to stay productive and sane while working from home.

Use time tracking apps

Even though flexibility in work hours is the greatest WFH perk, you can’t be productive if you take an entire day to finish a task that you would’ve finished within a few hours in the office. Using productivity apps like Toggl, HourStack, RescueTime, can get you to finish early so you can have more ‘me time’ which would become a rare luxury once things are back to normal. 

Create a personal work to-do list based on the tasks assigned to you. Divide your work hours in a way that every task gets finished a little ahead of time with some wiggle room for rework and finishing touches.

Choose a dedicated workspace but switch it up occasionally

Having a designated work area with a desk and chair could simulate the right working environment. At the same time, it can create monotony as other office components like social interaction, lunch break banter, in-person meetings would be missing. To combat this loop, work from the balcony, garden, or get together with a bunch of WFH neighbors to create a co-working space.

Fix regular work hours

This is the core factor that will determine the efficacy of your WFH set-up. You must keep the same number of hours as you did when you worked in-office including breaks. Start early or around your peak productive hours but don’t dilly dally through the day with unregulated breaks and unmonitored hours. 

Keep family distractions away

Make it clear to your spouse/kids/parents that just because you’re home doesn’t mean you’re available. Limit interactions with family/friends to lunch/tea breaks. You don’t have to be available for chores, answer the door, or entertain neighbors during work hours.

Singles can set similar rules for friends and other family members who call or text during work hours.

Avoid using social media

This is a familiar rabbit hole we are sucked into every day, even more so when working from home. Log off from all social media accounts, work incognito, or in a more drastic measure, uninstall social media apps from your phone for a while to get used to life without endless scrolling, commenting and swiping.

Spend your breaks to gain more momentum

Stay active during your breaks. This may seem counterintuitive but if you take a nap, or laze around on your couch, you’re less likely to get out of the chill zone and get back on the workhorse. Instead, do the dishes, stroll and stretch, do the laundry, rearrange the dresser; do anything that keeps you on your toes while taking your mind off work.

Stay connected to your colleagues

WFH teams are at real danger of being out of touch with the bustling office dynamic if the quotient of healthy human interaction comes down. You need to feel like you’re still a part of the big picture, hence staying connected to your co-workers via video chat, communication tools or chat apps is highly recommended. Skype for Business, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Meet are the top-rated video conferencing apps today.

Curate a mood music playlist

Create a playlist to match the energy of the task or project you’re doing. You can select from a wide range of genres like lo-fi hip hop, gym music, video game soundtracks, classical symphonies, etc. Don’t include songs with an associated emotional charge that may be filled with private interpretation. Sad songs are not conducive to the work vibe. Also, invest in a good headset that will also double as a useful video conferencing tool. Playing vintage documentaries or unintentional ASMR tutorials on a low volume may also help increase concentration and simulate human presence. 

Have a pleasant before and after routine

Before or after work, have a routine that centers you while creating a healthy mental distance from work. Consider yoga, light aerobics, meditation, gardening, art and craft, DIY woodworking, gaming, cooking, or anything that tickles your creative fancy and doesn’t feel like work. The spillover from work to personal life is quite a challenge as there’s no daily commute to demarcate office-home boundaries. Work bleeds into home affairs if it’s not phased out consciously.

Make a WFH dress code

Getting to work right after rolling out of bed may work for the very few but not for most. Working in boxers or pajamas without taking the morning shower seems like a cool thing to do in the initial excitement of WFH freedom. But the informal attitude could sink in the subconscious mind, rendering your attitude casual and laid-back. Decide on a few comfortable outfits for daily work. Tidy your workplace and surroundings and shower before starting work so you and your personal space are fresh, clean and raring to go.

Guard the data

If you’re working with sensitive client/consumer data, be extra vigilant about its privacy. Use a VPN at home and leave it connected for as long as you’re accessing files meant for internal access. Top-rated VPN services for 2020 are NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost and Surfshark.

Take days off

Along with the regular weekly offs, take sick days if you’re not at your optimum physical and psychological health. Just because you’re handed the WFH comfort, doesn’t mean you have to soldier on in spite of being sick or incapacitated.

Ultimately, it’s as much a matter of psychology as logistics. Your intuition and feelings are an indication of whether something’s right or wrong. If something doesn’t feel right on the inside look to the external scenario and make changes. Eat fewer snacks, exercise more, communicate sufficiently, plan ahead, and look for camaraderie to power through this change of pace. Think about the more positive aspects of the WFH set-up and the opportunity it provides for growth and strength. The prospect of spending more time with family, the lack of pollution-filled commutes and the precious time to connect with your inner self could turn you more content, resilient, and adaptable to change.