It has been a little over a year, since I've gone from a 3h daily commute to working fully remotely. The transition has been rough at the start, and I need to write this article for people transitioning into a remote role, but also to remind myself to stick to this.
In general, you will find that you personally might struggle with three different things:
- Work-Life Balance
Having issues with these three together is a nightmare for your mental health. Obviously, there is a lot more that's difficult in remote work, but most of it is organizational, things that your company or manager can handle, and I blog about these things on NoHQ. The three things above are yours to battle, there's not a lot that your employer can help you with there.
A social structure is a must
Look at your social circle–how much of it do you have because of your work? If you're sitting at home the whole day, will you have somebody to talk to (face-to-face)? I usually always lived with other people for the past year, so at least I had somebody to talk to in the evenings, but if they are gone for a few days, it can get silent and lonely.
During these days it's important to look for social contacts or at least to create some new impressions for your mind. Meet friends, talk to your parents, go walk in the park. Even a casual call with your coworkers (if they are in a similar timezone) can work. Co-working spaces can help too.
If one of the three pillars mentioned above is suffering, it will pull everything else down too–if you're not social, you will feel like your motivation is dwindling, and your days will go by way too quickly, feeling unproductive, without leaving any impression.
Get out of bed, now!
The best thing about remote work, for me personally? No more 3h commute. The worst thing? It's so tempting to sleep in right about one minute before you're starting work.
Getting motivated for work can be hard on some days. That's not unique to remote work at all. The difference is, that in most jobs you will still have to show up to an office, and as a remote worker you don't.
When working from home, it can suddenly become very tempting to just do the dishes instead of solving that next problem. It can be tempting to work out of your favourite comfy clothes every day. It can be tempting to procrastinate to infinity and beyond.
It's hard finding motivation on "one of those days", but more than before, you will just have to pull through and do the work.
What has helped me personally is to set a few non-negotiable to-dos the night before. I use Todoist to do so, and it gives me that little nudge of anxiety to see, right now, that I still have 7 open tasks. Re-scheduling these feels bad, so I'd rather get out of bed in the morning and get it all done.
Shut the computer, and leave!
Once you've overcome the whole motivation and starting issue, it's very tempting to just keep working, working and working. You don't have to leave the office, you don't have to get home – because you're already there.
One advice I like to give people is to have a designated office space that you might even be able to close off. I do understand that it's not easy to do that, though. Until about a month ago, I worked out of my bedroom as well, but it helps a lot to have an office area. Co-working spaces can help here again, if you have one near you.
I also like to make evening plans, if nothing else is going on. If you're meeting someone for a trip to the city, or a dinner after work, it forces you to leave work be, close your laptop, and free your mind. You will feel extremely refreshed the day after!