According to a Pew Research Center Study, 71% of employed Americans were working at home during the height of the COVID pandemic. While this number will almost certainly fall as COVID vaccines become more widely available, a vast number of companies will continue to employ a remote or hybrid workforce. If you’ve been working at home for a year or less, you might find that you’re disorganized as you try to juggle work, a social life, and parenting. Furthermore, even veteran remote workers fall victim to clutter and other organizational issues. But just as you’d spring clean your home before summer hits, you can also spring clean your remote work routine with a few easy-to-apply tips and suggestions.
How to Spring Clean Your Remote Work Routine
Spring cleaning your remote work routine isn’t a one-size-fits-all pursuit. Before you blindly apply the tips below, revise each one as you see fit. By tailoring it to your working and organizational style, you can get the most out of your fresh routine.
1. Spring Clean Your Mental State
Between COVID and the long winter, you may feel overwhelmed, stressed, burned out, or simply ho-hum. When you’re in this state of mind, spring cleaning of any kind doesn’t sound appealing, let alone your remote work routine. Therefore, you should start by boosting your morale. To achieve a better mental state, combine a blend of mental and physical activities. Some examples might include:
- Start an exercise routine, whether it’s just going for a walk or hitting the weight room
- Practice meditation or yoga
- Get plenty of sleep (seven to nine hours)
- Stick to a schedule of getting up and going to bed
- Eat healthy foods or learn to cook healthy foods
- Socialize in-person or do other socially distanced activities to get out of the house or the home office
Focus on these before you begin your remote work routine overhaul. By doing so, you will have a better mindset and more energy for spring cleaning.
2. Connect With Colleagues and Co-Workers
Regardless of whether you love your current job or you’re searching for a new one, connecting or reconnecting with colleagues and co-workers is an essential part of spring cleaning your remote work routine. Working from home can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness, so socializing is an ideal method to get yourself out of a rut. In a professional manner, message important colleagues on platforms such as LinkedIn or send a friendly email to check in. You never know when this simple, friendly gesture may equate to job advancement, networking, and other professional opportunities.
While you may choose to reach out to colleagues, don’t forget about your co-workers. Even when you’re a remote worker, your relationships with these individuals can have a marked impact on your morale, especially if you’re feeling isolated. Strike up a conversation on a collaborative tool or messaging platform, schedule a virtual happy hour, or just talk about something that’s not work-related. Conversation, even in a digital format, will help with your mental state. Plus, you can ask if they have any plans or suggestions for spring cleaning a remote work routine.
3. Take the Steps to Build a Work-Life Balance
Think about your remote work routine since last spring. How many times have you closed the door to your home office but continued to answer emails and messages on your phone? It’s a problem that routinely happens to the virtual workforce, yet it also leads to burnout and a lack of productivity in the long run. Though answering these messages away from your home office may seem insignificant, it can blur the line of work-life balance — perhaps one of the greatest reasons for working from home.
To combat the urge to work constantly, incorporate these ideas into your remote work routine:
- Set home office hours and stick to them
- Delete work-related apps off your phone
- If you can’t delete these apps due to work obligations, use the apps’ do not disturb mode outside of office hours
- Schedule an activity out of the house shortly after your office hours to ensure you’re not tempted to go back to work
4. Clear Out the Cyber Clutter
Another often overlooked part of spring cleaning your remote work routine is clearing out your cyber clutter. Because digital formats aren’t visible like your garage or kitchen, you may not even notice how disorganized and cluttered you’ve become. You may have ignored security updates, lost emails, or not been able to find important documents. If this describes you, now is the time to clear out the cyber clutter. To do this, follow this list:
- Go folder to folder on your desktop or laptop and save, backup, or delete files
- Create new folders to organize your existing files
- Go through your email and clean and organize your inbox
- Update your security software, such as anti-malware and antivirus programs
- Purge your social media profile of any controversial content
- Check websites to ensure they haven’t been hacked
- Change your password to make it more difficult for hackers to guess
- Consider purchasing an external hard drive or online cloud storage to backup important files and documents
- Unsubscribe to email newsletters and promotions that you haven’t opened in the past six months to a year
By going down this checklist, you can make sure that your computer is in optimal condition in terms of security and organization. You just might discover that a clean computer and smartphone can significantly impact your productivity in a positive light.
5. Start a Routine Before Work
Another vital part of spring cleaning your remote work routine begins before you even get behind the computer. Though you may not have the commute any longer, remote work still requires a certain amount of structure for you to maximize flexibility and productivity. Starting a routine before work (and possibly after work) can put you on the right track for success. An example of a morning routine would be:
- 6 a.m.: Wake up and stretch
- 6:15 a.m.: Get ready for the day by showering, brushing your teeth, and wearing appropriate attire (sweats are great from time to time, but not always conducive to professionalism)
- 7 a.m.: Eat breakfast
- 7:30 a.m.: Read the news, check stocks, see if your favorite sports team won last night, or whatever you need to do to unwind a bit before work
- 8 a.m.: Hop into the office and get ready for a productive day
If your remote job offers flexibility, you may also want to add a bit of exercise to the routine such as a morning jog, walking the dog, or a quick yoga session. The idea behind this routine is that you mentally prepare for work, avoiding burnout or a sluggish start in the process.
6. Retool Your Home Office
Your home office is a sanctuary. Ideally, it’s free of distractions, clutter, and anything else that doesn’t make you an industrious remote professional. Unfortunately, not everyone has the space to dedicate an entire room to a home office. Nevertheless, you can still retool your existing home office to create an atmosphere that’s relaxing and gets you ready to tackle your projects for the day. Retooling your home office can be as drastic as you want it to be. Just make sure to put together a budget, separate wants and needs, and most of all, spring clean it as you would the rest of your home.
Decide What Needs to Be in Your Home Office
When you look around your home office, do you see items that you haven’t touched in months? If so, these are first on the chopping block. Sell them, move them to another room, or give them away. If you don’t use them, they’re detracting from a relaxing home office atmosphere.
Wires, Wires Everywhere
Some home office setups are as simple as a laptop and a mouse. But if you need other hardware and equipment for your job, you may have wires going in every direction without any semblance of order. Although this isn’t necessarily problematic in nature, the disorganization of wires can subconsciously put a damper on your mental state. For just a few bucks, however, you can tidy up with a few cable organizers or a plastic cable raceway, which is a tube that hides cords in an organized fashion. Just this one quick, cheap fix will make your home office look ten times better.
Rearrange the Room
Psychologically, the mind can get worn out with the same exact room layout. That’s why humans are drawn to rearranging rooms in their homes on a somewhat regular basis. If you feel out of sorts in your home office, the layout of the room might be to blame. By rearranging your room, you can channel your creativity, elevate your mood, and provide a tangible sense of satisfaction.
Think about the room on a productive basis. In a broader sense, can you rearrange furniture to streamline your daily processes? Or if you like the layout, can you move things around on your desk in a way that will make you more organized? These are questions only you can answer, but by simply asking them, you can find a home office layout that suits your professional needs and personal tastes.
Create, Reassess, and Stick to Your Remote Work Routine
Spring cleaning your remote work routine isn’t a one-and-done scenario. It’s a continual process that requires reassessments over time. The more focus you have on analyzing your routine, the more successful it will be over the course of the year and beyond. Don’t wait until spring each year to fine-tune your remote work; stay on top of your routine, and you might find that your next spring cleaning feels more like a spring break.
Do you have any tips to spring clean and organize your remote work routine? What has worked for you in the past? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!
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