It’s no secret that productivity is not a natural ability; rather, it’s a series of habits to be established and followed consistently each day. When you work remotely, it can often be challenging to reconcile your expectations with what actually happens.
While you might not have kids or major obligations during the day, scheduled breaks can help you focus better during work hours. You can exercise, walk the dog, run errands, or just relax during these breaks. In the household environment, there are many distractions, and it will be unrealistic to expect uninterrupted attention for eight hours or more for an extended period of time as one can in the office.
The right remote job schedule can help you stay consistent and productive throughout your day with minimal adjustments to your schedule. You can make the most of your days by scheduling some blocks of time to match your personal obligations and individual workflow as opposed to a constant schedule of work-related activities. This is sometimes referred to as window work.
If you work from home, windowed work offers the benefit that you can include nighttime or early morning hours without the job becoming a 24/7 responsibility. It will also be useful to have designated windows of time off work since remote work can lead to burnout because of the feeling that you’re never off the clock.
Learn some key guidelines for scheduling remote work by reading on. First, let’s explore the benefits of implementing a remote work schedule.
The Benefits of a Remote Work Schedule (Particularly for Digital Nomads)
Working remotely can be a very time-consuming task itself, and to make the most of your time, you should schedule all your work very carefully. There are many benefits to scheduling your work, such as:
- Identifying realistic goals you can achieve during your working hours.
- Planning enough time for all the important and essential tasks you need to complete.
- Planning some extra time for ‘unexpected work’ that might arise.
- Taking time to relax, spend time with your family, and do something you enjoy.
- Maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
In case you are a very busy digital nomad, you will most likely feel the need to create a physical personal agenda to organize better and find meaning in your daily routine. If you’re just beginning this lifestyle and don’t know where to start, check out our article on setting up your own agenda as a digital nomad.
Scheduling Remote Work: DOs and DONTs
Prior to getting into what you can do to organize remote work and what you should avoid, it is imperative to identify your power hours for a successful schedule.
It might be easier to schedule if you don’t interact with any teams in general, since the majority of your agenda can be divided into slots based on your needs and productivity.
If you are part of a team, setting your schedule can be tricky, but if you work independently, you should begin by identifying your most efficient times. Those of you who clock into work late often might enjoy (voluntarily) moving some of your morning workloads to 8 pm if you tend to be night owls.
However, you should also keep in mind that if there are people in your team who travel to the office and are used to getting up early for a long commute, they may be ready to work remotely at 5 in the morning. In this case, you will need to align meetings and group work, which is something you will most likely figure out eventually.
Nevertheless, you should not let early or late meetings prevent you from doing your deep work at your most alert times.
Keep reading to learn a few tips for scheduling your remote work.
How to Plan Your Remote Work to Maximize Its Benefits
1. Make Deep Work an Important Part of Your Schedule
If you work from home, there are endless distractions: messages, emails from colleagues, errands, hungry pets, family members, etc. By having deep work consistently in your schedule, you will be able to focus better, and so you will be able to create an effective remote work schedule.
It is beneficial to set aside a period of time in your calendar where you only work on one thing at a time and do not allow you to be distracted by anything else. To avoid being distracted while working on an important task, you can set a timer, turn off your phone, and close out all other tabs.
2. Schedule Meetings When You’re Least Productive
Working from home has the advantage of flexibility, which means you can set your own schedule based on when you are at your most productive.
It may make sense to schedule important tasks in the morning in order to maximize your productivity, and then schedule meetings in the evening when you can’t work on complex tasks anyway.
You can also schedule all your meetings during the afternoon if you tend to feel sleepy and exhausted right after lunch. Being able to virtually catch up with your colleagues or even with clients can be one of the most invigorating aspects of working.
3. Plan Your Breaks as You Plan Your Meetings
When it comes to staying productive and efficient, taking breaks in the middle of the day is just as important as deep work. Constantly working all day without taking enough breaks will lead to burnout and impaired performance.
There is no doubt that taking a break can be challenging when you are working on a big project or have an upcoming deadline. Many people forget to take a break when they should. In the long run, if you start prioritizing deadlines over short breaks when needed, it can become a bad habit that only leads to burnout.
Keep a daily calendar with 15-30 minute break slots to always remind yourself to take a break. It is not necessary to take all the breaks scheduled, but you should try to take as many as possible, and avoid scheduling any other work during the break slots. For a quick break, stretch out a bit or go outside to get some fresh air.
4. Consider Your Day as a Typical Working Day
Since you can create your own schedule when you work from home, you shouldn’t work nonstop all day just to check things off your list. Ultimately, your productivity will drop and you will even burn out if you fail to take breaks.
You should plan your day and structure it the way you would if you were in an office. Start your day off with your morning ritual, take a nice lunch break, and then when you’re tired in the evening, take a regular coffee break so you can come back to work feeling fresh.
5. Establish Rules for Your Household
Having family members constantly interrupt you or hover around you when you work from home can make it hard to concentrate. If you have kids at home all the time while working, things can get even more challenging.
Therefore, you should set clear boundaries with your family about what they can and cannot do during your working hours so you don’t hinder your productivity.
6. Make Self-Care a Priority Even at Work
It is no secret that working from home can be both stressful and overwhelming. As a result of a lack of connection with the team and the overwhelming workload, a person can quickly become burnt out.
That’s why you should always take care of yourself every day, any time, including during work hours. Take your time when it seems as if the world is hitting you at once. Spend some time with your family, listen to some music, or go outdoors. Getting away from the computer will help you relax.
7. Develop a Ritual to Decompress and End the Day
At the end of the day, when your personal and professional lives overlap, it can be just as hard to walk away from your computer and disconnect.
You should create a work closing ritual to prepare yourself for disconnecting from work in order to create a work-life balance. You might want to check your e-mails for the last time, let your coworkers know that you’re leaving, and look over your work list for tomorrow.
Additionally, if you need a stress detox and have the time, you can try it when you need more than a remote work schedule. As a result, you will be able to regain your physical energy as well as to clear your mind and gain a better perspective on what you should focus on in the next period. Here is an article that might help you if you want to know how to detox as a digital nomad.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Scheduling Remote Work
1. Neglecting Your Non-Work Hours
There are many people working remotely who don’t consider the remaining time in their schedule. Instead, we focus on the busy hours.
The first thing you should do is schedule out all of your non-work hours so you know exactly how much time you have to complete your tasks on a daily basis. Having a clear boundary between work and personal time can also make it easier for you to unplug at the end of the day.
Additionally, you will achieve more in less time if you set strict work timings since you won’t feel like there’s “a lot of time” to just sit or take a long break.
2. Overcommitting Yourself
Planning your day’s itinerary early in the morning can lead to overconfidence and a rash of activities. The consequence? By the end of the day, you realize you cannot possibly accomplish all the tasks you were supposed to do and then you start feeling guilty.
It is best to set realistic objectives for yourself and to start with only the amount of work that you can reasonably handle.
3. Overusing Your Bedroom
Having the option of a quick afternoon nap or working in your bed when you work from home can be rather tempting. In addition to negatively impacting your productivity at work, it can also train your brain to associate your bed with stress and work, rather than relaxation. In this way, you may have difficulty getting to sleep at night.
No matter how small your apartment is, you should arrange your workspace so that it is far away from your bedroom, or at least such that you cannot see it directly.
Changing work hours will lead to greater flexibility for many remote workers in 2022, especially as the 9-to-5 workday becomes a thing of the past. It is not surprising that many remote workers will make some effort to develop schedules that work the best for them, such as that of windowed work.
The likelihood that you are going to suffer from burnout at work will be dramatically decreased if you follow this method.
Keep in mind that your mental and physical health should be prioritized, and you can only do that with a remote work schedule. By doing so, you will not only be able to go about your day easier, but you will also be able to reflect on your days and see what worked for you and what did not, as well as how you can improve your schedule to meet your needs.