There’s a lot to love about working from home: you avoid commuting, take meetings from the comfort of your couch, and wear your favorite sweatpants. But it can be harder to focus and maintain a work-life balance when your home becomes your office.
While research shows that most Americans prefer remote work to in-person work, the transition from office to home has caused ongoing new challenges with productivity and job burnout.
HighSpeedInternet.com surveyed 1,000 American workers in December and 77% said they felt unproductive working from home. A study by Eagle Hill Consulting published in November shows that more than half of American employees suffer from burnout, with women and young workers reporting the highest levels of stress.
There are several common mistakes people make in their remote work routines that “waste your time” and can exacerbate burnout, says Anna Dearmon Kornick, time management coach and community manager at Clockwise, a online calendar platform, at CNBC Make It.
Here are the top three time-wasting habits and how to avoid them:
Respond to emails immediately
If you’re working from home, all, if not most, of your communication is probably done online, whether through email, Slack, or another platform. While you can feel productive by responding to messages as soon as they arrive in your inbox, you’re wasting time on more important work.
“When you live in reactive mode and respond to emails as they come in, your day becomes incredibly fragmented and you won’t have the space available to focus on the real work you need to do. accomplish,” says Kornick.
Instead, Kornick recommends scheduling three 30-minute “check-in time blocks” to check your messages while working. “By putting a fence around your online communications, emails won’t stretch out and take over every minute of your day,” she adds.
“Chasing Shiny Things”
One of the sneakiest time wasters is getting caught up in “busy work”: new tasks that crop up throughout the day, or small action items on your to-do list that might give you a boost. feeling productive, but distracting you from more important work.
Psychologists call this phenomenon “shiny object syndrome,” which describes the habit of getting distracted by anything new or exciting.
“Achieving a lot of little things gives us dopamine hits, which makes us feel good until we realize we’ve procrastinated on our highest-priority work by chasing the bright stuff,” Kornick says.
She continues: “You might sit down with the intention of concentrating, but all of a sudden you remember you’re out of toilet paper, so you go to Amazon to order toilet paper, then you remember that your mom’s birthday is coming up, so you order her a present.Soon you’ve done so many little tasks that just popped into your head that you’ve missed that window of focus before your next meeting.
Here’s how to fight “shiny object syndrome”: review your to-do list in the morning and choose the top three things you need to get done. Then, create blocks of time in your schedule dedicated to each of these three elements to help you stay focused. Save small tasks to after you knock out at least one of your top three, Kornick says.