Self-care Tips for any Workplace: How I Stay Productive, Motivated and Stress-free as a Remote Worke
In July of 2018, I left my 9-to-5 job at a startup to be a freelance journalist, and to devote more of my time to travel while working remotely. Although this is what works for me, the following tips will help you regardless of what kind of job or work environment you have. The reality of remote life is that you are the only person motivating yourself to get work done, to get out of the house to see humans, and to keep a routine while juggling client work, hustling to market yourself, and taking time for self-care.
Here are my top tips for how I stay balanced and motivated daily without feeling cut off from the world:
1. Yoga or meditation is the first thing I do after waking up.
As soon as I get out of bed, I throw down my yoga mat and do a 15-20 minute routine. Sometimes the routine is for stretching and flexibility, or for stress and relaxation. On other days I’ll kick it up into high gear and do a fast power flow. This has improved my mental health and really sets up the day to be a positive experience. I really enjoy how SarahBethYoga guides you gently through each video and her mental health tips and quotes along the way have been helpful:
“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one's negative experience is itself a positive experience.” — Mark Manson
2. Maintain a daily, fixed routine and find your peak work hours.
Monday to Friday during the daytime hours I try to plan out a schedule to keep myself on track. Determining your peak hours and then sticking to a set 8 hours daily really helps. I’ve blocked out my day for different tasks. After yoga, my morning is blocked out for emails, admin tasks, and meetings, as I find I’m less creative in the morning. My afternoons are for writing and pitching and marketing as I find my peak time for flow is mid-afternoon. It’s important to recognize when you are at your most productive.
3. Join a coworking group for connection and support.
When I first went remote, a friend recommended joining a co-working group called Coworkers Collective that meets a few times a week. It’s been a lifesaver for when I feel lonely or need advice from other freelancers. We also have a Slack group to keep in touch and give support. It’s helped me negotiate contracts, have the confidence to charge rates that reflect my work’s value, and it’s kept me sane when things are tough. Having a supportive network makes all the difference.
4. Block out distractions.
If you find yourself going on social media when you don’t feel like working and it’s turning into a distraction or bad habit, there are apps and extensions to help shut out distractions and block social media. Stayfocusd is one that I vouch for, but there are lots of options. Also think of your work hours as sacred - so turning off the TV or putting your phone on silent can make a big difference.
5. Practice the Pomodoro technique.
The Pomodoro Technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo at the late 1980s and basically breaks down your work time into 25-minute intervals. Studies show that after 25 minutes our concentration declines, and taking a 5-10 min break in between intervals is key to keeping productivity levels high. The technique allows you to work more efficiently for a longer period of time. I’ve had great success with this method - it works especially well for my ADHD brain.
6. Create music playlists to help you work or unwind.
I could not survive without music and I rely on it for pretty much everything. It wakes me up, gets me pumped to do work, helps me focus, calms me down, de-stresses my brain, and helps me cope day to day - creating go-to Spotify playlists for every mood and situation. My playlist Freelance Writing Music is the kind you may hear in a really cool cafe in Amsterdam with great ambience. Up Up And Away will motivate you to do anything!
7. Schedule time to journal.
As a writer, I love to write and that means I have 2-3 different journals on the go at any given time to jot down my thoughts, goals, and dreams. Something that really helped me when I was going through a hard break-up was a technique recommended by a therapist. Try doing an emotions journal using the RAIN technique - it helps you recognize what is happening inside on a day-to-day basis, to understand why, and to help accept yourself as you are with compassion.
8. Get yourself out into nature.
As a remote worker, sometimes you don’t leave the house for days. Getting outside and into nature has been proven to positively affect mental health. There is a significant correlation between the availability of nature and lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. Studies show that nature walks result in decreased anxiety, rumination, and negative feelings, and even increased performance on cognitive tests. Get out to your local park or hiking trail and if you would like company try Meetups to find local walking groups.
9. Yerba mate instead of coffee.
I switched to yerba mate instead of coffee about 2 years ago and noticed a huge difference. It doesn’t have that energy spike and then crash with jitters that come with coffee, but it has the same amount of caffeine. Yerba mate has a slew of benefits: loaded with vitamins and minerals, amino acids and antioxidants (higher than green tea), it elevates your energy at a constant level for 6 hours while providing a calming effect. You can order it online or try finding it in your local health food store.
10. Drinking plenty of water and taking key vitamins.
On the days I drink plenty of water I notice how productive I am – my mind is clearer and I feel less stressed. This was a game-changer for me as I suffer from migraines and keeping hydrated and taking magnesium prevents an attack. Magnesium also helps me sleep better. I also rely on vitamin D every day all year to help with mood. It’s been proven to help with depression, anxiety and the immune system. Vitamin C helps me with UTI prevention and is a huge energy boost. These small changes have had a huge impact on my health.
11. Celebrating small goals.
It’s easy to overlook when you don’t have an office of team-mates or a boss to give you feedback, but celebrating reaching your goals along the way is crucial to keeping motivated. It may seem silly, but reaching tiny goals is just as important as reaching the big goals you set for yourself. If I get up and do yoga that day, it’s a win in my book. It can be as small as making a list for yourself and checking things off that day. Don’t forget to encourage yourself to keep going and congratulate yourself for making an effort – you deserve it!
Post by: Melissa Embury