Ever wished you could work from home? For many people, that dream is increasingly becoming a reality as the Internet lets us work from practically anywhere. Working remotely has many benefits.
You can stay home with your kids or jet off to Borneo. Unfortunately, without co-workers and superiors constantly around to keep you in check, it can be tough to stay productive when you’re working remotely. That’s why we’ve rounded up the following tips to help you do what you need to.
1. Create a dedicated workspace.
One of the worst possible things you can do if you work from home is to work in bed. This practice will disrupt both the quality of your sleep AND the quality of your work. Create a space in your home that’s solely dedicated to work.
That way, there’s a clear delineation between your work and your personal life – so when you sit down at your home office, you signal to your brain and body that it’s time to focus.
This office doesn’t have to be large or high-tech, but it does need to be comfortable. Make sure it’s well-lit and get a good chair so you don’t hurt your back.
2. Have a schedule.
For most people, working remotely means that you can work whenever you want. Do your best work at midnight? Go for it! However, keeping some semblance of a schedule will ensure you get everything done and add some structure to your daily routine.
Try working at roughly the same times every day. If you want more flexibility, you might consider doing certain tasks at specific times – maybe you always go through new client information on Thursday at 2PM. It doesn’t matter what your schedule is; what matters is that you have one.
3. Make a friend who works remotely.
Working remotely can get really lonely, even if you spend all day talking to your colleagues. So it helps to make a friend who lives in your city and also works remotely. This person might become an accountability partner you talk to throughout the day – consider calling him/her instead of emailing, since it’s so easy to lie over email.
Better yet, work together in a coffee shop or in one of your homes so you can motivate each other to stay focused. Don’t know anybody who works remotely? You can find them at networking events and Meetups – just remember to follow basic safety tips if you’re meeting someone from the Internet.
4. Go outside at least once a day.
If you work from home, it’s all too easy to go days on end without ever leaving your house. But it’s not healthy to sit at a desk all day; you need regular changes in the environment. Think about it. If you work in an office, you commute there, you move around the floor and the building, you head to the cafeteria for lunch and you might go out for happy hour.
As a remote worker, you don’t have these environmental changes built into your day so you have to create them. Make sure that you are regularly exposed to sunlight and get up from your desk frequently. That means getting outside at least once a day – no matter how terrible the weather. Head to the gym, run some errands or just take a walk around the block.
5. Stick to your system.
One of the joys of working remotely is the ability to design your schedule and workspace in a way that works best for you. The problem? Remote workers are constantly bombarded with new time management systems and new productivity tools. It’s tempting to try them all – but doing so is a waste of time and potentially money. It’s crucial to experiment until you find a work system that works best for you. But if you are content with the way you’re working, don’t fix something that isn’t broken!
6. Know when to stop.
Some people who work remotely have trouble getting anything done. Others have the exact opposite problem – they can’t stop working. When you are at an office, you eventually have to leave to go home. When you live where you work, it can be tough to separate your personal and professional lives.
So it’s especially crucial for remote workers to find that work-life balance. Are you a workaholic? Consider designating several periods a week where you’re not allowed to work, like Friday evening, and enlist others to help you stick to them.
7. Find someplace else to work.
Even when you have a dedicated workspace in your home, there are days that napping on the couch is just too tempting. Find a few potential workspaces nearby before this happens. Ideally, this will be a good library or inexpensive cafe that’s not too loud and has reliable WiFi and outlets.
A change of scenery reduces the temptations that lurk at home and can do wonders for your focus.
8. Get social.
When you work remotely, you need to be social in two different ways. If you’re part of a team, make sure that you’re socializing with your co-workers regularly – even if it’s virtually via Skype.
Office workers talk about non-work items at the water cooler, and you should do the same to feel connected and motivated. As a remote worker, you also need to make an effort to develop the soft skills you would naturally acquire when working in an office. So go to networking events and industry conferences. Make coffee dates with other professionals in your field. You can even make “work friends,” via Twitter!
9. Set ground rules.
Working at home is especially tough when you live with other people. So it’s crucial to set some ground rules. Agree on signs that indicate you are not to be bothered, whether that’s a closed door or a pair of earphones.
Are you working remotely to be close to your kids? Remember that you can’t commit 100% to both work and parenting at the same time. Consider some childcare or recruit your partner’s help so you’re able to stay productive.
10. Remember why you’re working.
It’s easy to get demotivated when most of your workday consists of staring at a screen and hardly talking to anybody. To avoid the temptation of Netflix or a nap, it’s important to remember why you do what you do. Ideally, your motivation comes from a love of your job.
But if the thought that motivates you is that you need this job to fund the lifestyle you want, that’s fine too. Consider writing down why you work and keeping it on hand to look at next time you’re in a slump.
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