As the world shifted to online and remote work, we’ve all thought we would have improved work-life balance giving us much more time freedom to complete our work on time and do the things we wanted to do outside of work.
In reality, more people than ever have become burnt out at remote work and in many cases, some people have felt worse off despite coming into the remote work experience with a very positive attitude.
Waking up every morning at the last minute and being stuck at home with the same routine was not as glamorous as some thought after a few years, or even a few months for some people. Many people are finding themselves less organized than before, especially now that the division of personal time and work time has blurred.
People are now more overwhelmed than ever, to perform better at work but at the same time, maintain the personal commitments they need to complete.
In this article, we’ll go through the steps you need to take to rebuild that structure in your life if you are finding yourself heading toward disorganization and pure chaos. With a bit of cleaning, proper planning, and organization of your tasks, you’ll find yourself back on track in no time!
What Are Some Ways to Manage Your Digital Self While Working From Home?
Letting Go Of Unnecessary Things
Your first step to bringing order to your working life is to start with some good old-fashioned cleaning. Start by exploring what you have on your work laptop and deleting what isn’t necessary.
Like hoarders, most files, emails, documents or other assets are not as important as you think they are. For many people, most were ad-hoc requests that no one would ever look at again on how you arrived at the conclusion. Only the conclusion or final product matters.
As you start deleting things, you’ll run across things you’re on the fence about. For these types of items, throw them into a newly created folder. Don’t start organization yet – that’ll be the next step. For now, focusing on decluttering and removing as much as possible.
Organization: Both Virtually and Physically
Once you remove all the clutter, you’re now ready to start on the next step of your journey: organization!
Just like spring cleaning and clearing out your wardrobe, start organizing your things in folders or groups that work for you. Start adding tags on your emails or associating relevant files and emails together. The great thing about this step is you’ll likely start deleting unnecessary clutter once you’ve dug a little deeper into the files.
When you start putting things together in groups, you’ll notice duplicates or even files that make others obsolete. This is easily noticeable once you are done organizing and go into each of the folders briefly again.
While we have focused purely only on your files found on your laptop, this step is also key for your physical assets and office space as well. You may have been building up a mess in your room.
Start wiping and cleaning up your various objects, documents, and other things around your working area. A popular thing to do is managing the mess of wires you may have tangled up.
Before moving onto the next step, you may have completely organized all your files. It is also good to note here at the end of this step that sometimes starting fresh is also a completely valid option.
If your equipment, like your laptop is slowing down or getting rather old, consider moving your files onto a portable hard drive, or the cloud, and then finding a new laptop for working from home that works best for you.
Your file structure will not only feel fresh, but your equipment as well!
Build a Routine That Works for You
You have everything organized, and you’ve got shiny new equipment ready to use. At this step, you will start building a routine that works for you.
Building a routine will allow you to slowly get your situation, and life, back in control. A routine isn’t just how you approach work, it starts from the moment you wake up.
Write down how you’ll approach your day on a normal working day from the very beginning. Write down what you want to do, whether it’s grabbing coffee or having breakfast. For the first hour(s) of work, will you focus more on self-individual work or communicating with other people? Do you want to always have lunch at the same time? Set it on your calendar and be strict with it!
Finally, set goals for yourself when you finish work. Make sure you communicate hard cutoff times, especially on your calendar.
We’ve only talked about the short-term goals, but the long-term goals matter as well. Have you had bad posture and you want to sit better? Consider investing in a new office chair and provide yourself reminders, perhaps every hour, to fix your posture when needed. Feeling sleepy all the time? Perhaps setting reminders to take 15-45 minute nap breaks is also just as important for you.
Focus on Prioritization and Most Immediate Tasks
With a routine built, you now have dozens, if not hundreds of tasks to complete ahead of you. You know when you’ll do them thanks to your routine schedule, but the final question remains: which ones are the most important and need to be done first?
Just like the 80/20 rule found commonly in business, i.e. 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. You’ll find 80% of the impact you’ll make come from just 20% of your tasks. It is your responsibility in this step to identify this 20% and to prioritize them.
As you start prioritizing, communicate with your stakeholders on timelines and expectations. As you have these conversations, you’ll start to learn some of the tasks you were required to complete may not be as important as you think and fall into the “nice to have” bucket. This will allow you to reduce the amount of work you need to complete.
Working from home or remotely away from the office has its pros and cons and many people were swept up focusing on the pros when COVID initially started. With various cases of burnout and fatigue, it is key that you reorganize yourself and build a strategy that works for you when managing your professional “remote” life and personal life.
We’ve gone through the steps you need to take to bring peace, calm, and structure back to your remote job. If you ever feel yourself inching toward uncontrollable chaos you can’t control, take a read-through of this article again and follow the steps once more!
Interesting Related Article: “Essential Collaboration Tools for a Remote Workforce“