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What habits might be keeping you from being your best WFH self? Here are a few mental and physical factors that could be contributing to your overall performance and a few remote working mistakes to avoid.

Get to know yourself.

We’re coming up on year 10 of quarantine so needless to say some of you might be feeling a little triggered. Joking, it’s obviously only been 3 years. But the point is that for many, working from home has become the new normal. In order to thrive, you need to know how you personally work best and what support systems are essential to keep you feeling happy and productive. If you’re not sure what you need in order to optimally function, now’s a great time to find out. For example, there are certain items I need to “check off” every day if I’m going to work effectively and happily. If I miss one of these items… I take a step closer to the cliffs of mental despair. That might sound dramatic, and hard days happen sometimes no matter what, but you can significantly decrease them and gain more productivity if you make your own personal checklist. One of the biggest remote working mistakes is not taking the time to make a personal schedule.

Here are a few items on my daily checklist:

  1. Wake up at the same time each day.
  2. Get 1 hour of exercising in.
  3. Make time in the morning for meditation and reflection.
  4. Eat the rainbow for lots of nutrients. Skittles don’t count.
  5. Have a conversation with a friend.
  6. Go outside and enjoy the fresh air.
  7. Read my book.
  8. Eat a cookie.
I’ve found that doing all these things throughout the day, especially the eating a cookie part, significantly impacts my work productivity. I usually have a great day when all of these are complete. You should have your own list of essential daily activities that keep you performing optimally. It could be as simple as having a more structured morning routine. Check out the chart to the right for a few ideas on how to make that happen.

Now here are a few triggers that I know I need to avoid…

  1. Not taking breaks. This is a sure path to the dark side.
  2. Not sticking to a schedule. Without a planned day, I start feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Letting negative thoughts linger. Positive vibes only.
  4. Ignoring my stress levels. If I’m feeling stressed or overly tired, it’s time to step away from my laptop, go for a walk and come back with new energy.

Know your triggers and don’t let them rule you! If you have a not so productive Tuesday, come back on Wednesday with a new resolve to do what you need to do to make it great. Of course, a problem that we’re all facing is when working from home, it can be a little harder to pinpoint your triggers.

Here are some work from home triggers to look out for that could affect your mental well-being.

  1. Not following a set schedule which leads you to not getting enough sleep.
  2. 24/7 accessibility to your work makes it hard to unwind.
  3. Getting burnt out from not being mindful of your schedule.
  4. Checking your work email before bed or at lunch or at the gym.
  5. Eating meals at your workspace.
  6. Not making a daily effort to talk with friends and family.
  7. Agreeing to take calls at any time even if it doesn’t work with the schedule you’ve set.
  8. Spending time wondering about/judging your coworkers and their work from home practices.
  9. Labeling things in your mind as “good” days and “bad” days. 

Remote working mistakes to look out for.

HubSpot recently did an interview with some work from homers on bad remote habits that we might all find ourselves doing. Managing editor, Meg Prater, reported: “There are two major remote working mistakes that stand out to me, which are: Dishes, laundry, “starting dinner”, etc … It’s so easy to think you’ll just do one thing and an hour later, you’ve deep cleaned your entire closet. If you’re going to knock out some chores as a mental break, set a timer and hold yourself to a strict “back-to-work” time. Holding yourself to the same high standard every day: It’s easy to feel guilty when you have an unproductive WFH day. Some days or weeks will be hyper-productive, some days or weeks will be a struggle. Don’t beat yourself up for those days when it’s all you can do to get through your inbox before noon. Allow yourself time to recharge, fail, or be distracted, decide what you can learn from those “off” days, and move on.”

Focus on work-life balance.

Pamela Bump, another HubSpotter, shared her thoughts on remote working mistakes: “Not physically separating work from life enough. When I started working from home, I thought I wouldn’t get distracted because I had a desk area already set up. But, I found that working at a desk in my bedroom still caused many distractions. At times, I found myself looking at my unmade bed and wanting to make it, wondering when I should plan to do the laundry, or glancing at my TV and thinking about a TV show I enjoyed even though it was off. Although I can’t always work in the common areas of my house due to roommates, I now try to work outside of my room whenever I can. When you work remotely, it can be tempting to say, ‘I’ll take a longer break and work later in the evening.’ Or, ‘Maybe I’ll work ahead during the weekend since I have no plans.’ Ultimately, when I’ve done this, it only stresses me out and messes with my work-life balance. Because of this, I’ve begun to create a more structured schedule for myself.”

It’s the little things.

Small things add up quickly and neglecting the little things that keep you happy and functioning can make it hard to be productive and happy. As a consequence of taking care of yourself, you in turn will be a positive influence on your coworkers and customers. Doing the little things every day will help you be a more successful person. So take time this week to outline the things you need to do daily, triggers you need to avoid and then stick to a firm schedule. You’ll find your work from home days far more productive and have the energy to be your best self.