I’ve been working from home for seven years now, and for me, it’s always been a natural fit. There are, however, a number of misconceptions about working from home and how to do so effectively. Many employers are experimenting with employees working remotely on either a part- or full-time basis.
If you aren’t familiar with it, navigating the new frontier of working remotely can be tricky. Keep reading for some strategies and tips on how to navigate and make the most of your remote work experience.
1. Establish a routine (create a schedule for yourself and stick to it).
Routines are just as helpful when working remotely as they are for getting you out the door to commute to an office every morning. The great thing about working from home though, especially if you own your own business, is that you get to decide what this looks like. Maybe you want to get up at 8 a.m. and hit the gym for an hour, and then work from 10 to 6. Perhaps making your own schedule finally makes it possible to hit that 11 a.m. spin class you’ve been eyeing.
For me, working in my PJs until noon suits me just fine. For others, they need to shower and get dressed first thing in the morning to get their day started. It’s about finding what works for you. The best advice here is to figure out what you want to accomplish each day and how you want to arrange it into your schedule.
2. Identify when you are most and least productive.
Ask yourself what makes you the most productive. Once you’ve identified what helps to keep you focused and conquer that to-do list, create a work environment that helps support that. It’s also key to identify the hours where you are most productive, creative, and in the zone, and try to work within them.
3. Minimize distractions.
For some, the ability to work remotely removes distractions otherwise encountered in the workplace. There’s no need to hunker down in your cubicle with ear buds hoping that those around you don’t constantly pop by with a “quick-but-not-actually-quick question”. For others, the tasks at home seem to be more demanding or distracting, so they’re less productive than they would be in a traditional office. Figure out what distracts you and eliminate them as best you can the night before, so you can dive into work as soon as your work day begins.
4. Schedule social time during the week.
Some people say they could never work from home because they’d miss seeing people too much. Working remotely doesn’t equal being lonely, you just get more choice over who you spend those social minutes with. Make a point to meet a girlfriend or a fellow work-from-home peer for a coffee or a lunch date, check out a local collaborative work space, or even bring your laptop to your favourite coffee shop to feel the buzz of the come-and-go crowd around you.
5. Work-Life Balance is Important.
You’re out there trying to hustle, you want to put in as much time and effort as you possibly can to make your dream come to life, often without realizing the toll your long hours could be taking on you personally. Allowing yourself a separation between work and life is necessary so you can show up and be present for both. Need a place to start? Leave the office at a reasonable time each day, both physically and mentally.
6. Set boundaries with yourself and others.
Boundaries can be difficult in any situation, but take it from me, setting boundaries with yourself and others early on can help you be more successful when working from home. Try turning off notifications and avoid answering emails after hours. If thoughts of “I can’t forget about XYZ” come up after hours, compile a list in your notes in your smartphone. so you can tackle those items the next time you’re at your desk (but not before then!).
7. Don’t sit at your desk all day.
Now that you’ve created a space where distractions are minimal and you can truly GSD, don’t get consumed to the point where you skip your lunch break. Sometimes taking a break and circling back later is exactly what you need to re-focus. Make time for exercise, or take a mid-day walk — get some fresh air and give yourself some time to clear your head.
8. Make the most of your ability to multitask.
The ability to multi-task is both a pro and con when it comes to working remotely. Yes, it’s amazing that you can tackle some laundry and cuddle with your dog — multi-tasking helps break up the day and can actually contribute to you being more productive (see the point above). However, be mindful that you don’t have too many things on the go, to the point where they are taking priority over your work. Remember, it’s all about that balance.
How do you get things done when working from home?