Remote Work Tips: 10 Ways to Disconnect & Recharge
Remote work has become a new reality for many people across the globe—from creative freelancers who provide their services online, to entire companies that now offer long-term remote work options to all of their employees.
While there are plenty of benefits to clocking in from the comfort of home, working remotely can make it harder for workers to maintain a healthy work-life balance, or disconnect from work during off-hours and vacation.
When your job is no longer contained to a physical setting, you can’t really step out of the office with the relief that you are now done with your work for the day. And without that essential barrier between your professional and private life, your productivity may suffer and you can run the risk of burnout.
As a result, the future of work will require workers to actively implement strategies that help them unwind and rejuvenate by disconnecting from work for a period.
So, if you’re looking to strengthen your work-life balance and recharge your batteries without boarding a plane for a sun-soaked tropical island, just follow these ten steps:
1. Make a To-Do List, and Check it Twice
When you don’t specify your plans, they can be tough to follow through with. However, once you write down your plans as a numbered list (whether on a note-taking app or using actual pen and paper), you’ll be able to gain a comprehensive view of everything that you still need to complete, as well as the satisfaction of checking off each item as you complete it.
In its most basic form, your to-do list should include ongoing or upcoming projects, deliverables, milestones, and key contacts. Not only will this help put your workload into perspective, but it is also an essential resource for anyone who will be backing you up while you’re away.
Before taking some time off from work, make a concrete plan about what you need to accomplish so that you’ll be able to truly de-stress and kick back.
2. Outsource Your Creative Work to Skilled Professionals
One of the best aspects of the shift to remote work is the fact that a multitude of skilled freelancers are offering their services online, even in ways that they never did before. You don’t necessarily need to have a talented musician or seasoned translator in your immediate orbit, because creative services marketplaces like Voices are host to a number of experienced professionals in a range of creative fields, including audio production, music, and translation.
If you’re working on, say, a podcast, instead of completing all of the editing yourself, you can simply outsource your audio editing to someone who is proficient in podcast editing. That way, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your project is in the hands of a professional.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Although technology may occasionally feel like the true underlying force preventing you from disconnecting from work, you can actually take hold of the situation and command your technology to do your bidding for you.
For one, you should temporarily disable the notifications you’re receiving on your work phone or computer, so that you’re not receiving work-related emails or Slack messages while you’re supposed to be away from the office.
There are also a number of apps designed to facilitate a full-fledged ‘digital detox,’ such as OFFTIME, which even enables users to create a VIP contact list that only allows certain contacts to get in touch with them during designated hours.
You also ought to set up an automatic out of office message for anybody who tries to get in touch with you while you’re away. Here’s a simple template that you can use:
Thank you for your message. Please note that I will be unavailable from [xx time] to [xx time], with no access to email. If your matter is urgent, please email [blank] or call [xxx number]. Otherwise, I will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.
4. Recognize the Importance of Taking Time to Recharge
For some, the biggest hurdle standing in the way of work-life balance is psychological. You may struggle to seriously step away from work if you can’t recognize that time off isn’t inherently unproductive or something you should feel guilty over. Instead, temporarily unplugging gives you an opportunity to recharge so that you can eventually head back into the (virtual) office all the more ready to perform at top capacity.
Voice actors and singers take vocal naps throughout the day, and athletes need recovery periods after physically exerting themselves. No matter what field you work in, taking a break can work wonders for your performance on the job when you return to work.
5. Get a Change of Scenery
When you’re burrowed indoors with your computer for most of the day, the simple act of stepping outside for some fresh air can make a world of difference. Take your dog for a walk, go for a jog, or hop in your car and journey somewhere different (as long as you can do so safely).
The key to this step is just to switch up your surroundings. It can be easy to forget about the world beyond the four walls of your home office, so do yourself a favour by getting out of the house to both physically and mentally disconnect from work.
6. Establish an End of Day Ritual
If you work from home, chances are your ritual for ‘leaving’ work at the end of the day sometimes doesn’t involve much more than shutting your laptop and migrating to your refrigerator. However, many people who priorly worked out of an office have found that the commute to and from work actually served as a helpful period of decompression.
If you feel like you’re lacking a physical distance between your work and home life, then you may find it useful to establish a shut-down ritual that recreates the feeling of leaving the office for the evening.
A simple way to do this is by removing your work computer from sight. If you use the same computer for both work and leisure, you may want to leave the room you’ve been working from, and go into another room where you can begin to unwind.
Another strategy that some remote workers have taken up is the fake commute. Taking a fake commute entails leaving your house and going for a walk or riding the bus to mark the beginning or end of the work day.
7. Reduce Screen Time With Audio Technology
There may be moments when it’s necessary to take a break from work, yet you don’t want to check out entirely. Or, you may be tasked with reading a long document or researching a subject, but need to give your tired eyes a rest. When these sorts of scenarios roll around, audio technology is here to the rescue.
Instead of keeping your eyes glued to a screen, you can disconnect from work without fully unplugging by listening to an educational podcast or audiobook that relates to your line of work, or focusing exclusively on the voice over narration of an eLearning course. Information that is disseminated through the human voice is believed to be “more engaging, fun, helpful, useful, and less boring,” according to a report published by Publicis Media, and audio learning can also boost learner retention.
You can also use text to speech technology to convert any amount of text into listenable speech. If you’d like to consume a blog post or article without needing to lay eyes on your computer screen, then creating a custom TTS voice engine is the way to go.
8. Adopt a Hobby Unrelated to Your Job
Working from home can cause everything you do within your household to start to feel like work. That’s why it can be incredibly rewarding to pursue a hobby that has nothing to do with your job.
While it’s great to love what you do for a living, we’re talking about a hobby that is completely unrelated to your career development. Instead, choose something that brings you joy and exercises a part of your brain that your day job doesn’t.
For example, if you work as a web developer, you may want to take up a hobby that gives you a different sort of creative outlet, like painting or photography. If you spend all day in a studio performing voice over, then you may want to do something that gets you on your feet and out of the house.
9. Don’t Be a Stranger
If the only coworker you ever run into at the water cooler is your cat, it may begin to feel like you are shouldering all of your work assignments by your lonesome.
However, if you keep in touch with your coworkers throughout the day, you’ll ideally feel less isolated and achieve a better work-life balance that almost recreates the feeling of socializing with your colleagues at the office. You can also schedule coffee dates, movie nights, or team-building activities to check in on how your companions are doing.
When it becomes safe to do so, you may even want to journey back to the office from time to time. The Economist’s Philip Coggan believes that the office of the future will be “more of a collaborative area, more of a games room, where you go in to try and shoot the breeze with your colleagues and come up with something different.”
10. Log Off
Although our digitally-connected world makes it easier than ever to get in touch with friends and colleagues who aren’t in our immediate vicinity, that doesn’t mean that our devices can’t also serve as a source of stress that, when used too frequently, can ultimately leave us feeling detached from reality.
All things considered, the best way to disconnect from work and recharge your batteries is simply by logging off when you can—whether for the evening or for a vacation.
How to Recharge While Working From Home
Whether you’re taking a December holiday, a summer vacation, or just shutting down for the evening, you owe it to yourself to have a structure of support in place so that you can truly unwind.
Even though we all want to feel needed, there’s a lot more to life than what you accomplish while you’re on the clock.
Many professionals get into their line of work because they discovered a love for their craft before they were getting paid to do it. So, remember that you deserve the opportunity to recharge your batteries and tap back into the source of unbridled creativity—one that isn’t guided by creative briefs—but inspired by your life experiences.
What are your best tips for disconnecting from work and enjoying a real holiday?