I am a big fan of working remotely, and there are many pros and cons. My previous post focused on those. Here I will discuss what I feel allows me to be successful and productive when working outside of the normal office environment.
- Set alarms: They are not just for waking up, but for when to start and stop projects, break for lunch and end for the day. Over time, they may no longer be needed, but they can help keep you on track as you get started – especially not over working.
- Use Your Commute Time: By not having to drive, that can add anywhere between ten minutes and three hours to your available productive time each day. The average American spends 6 hours and 18 minutes commuting per week. That is almost an entire extra day of work. This means you can work almost one full day less per week, or you can look at it as time to be more productive. If you are a salaried employee, think about the massive amount of extra work you could get done and stand out among your peers. At 50 weeks a year, an extra 6 hours per week is 300 hours that could be used for being an all-star; at home and for work.
- Run Errands More Efficiently: My goal with working remotely is to minimize wasted time. Run errands during the middle of the day when traffic and lines will be shorter, if there at all, is another way to do this. I am a big proponent of waking up early and taking breaks as needed. By running personal and business errands in the middle of the day, you are saving time that can be better spent with family or accomplishing more objectives. A work/life balance is extremely important. Even if this only saves you an hour a week, that is an extra hour that you wouldn’t have otherwise had.
- Distractions: This is one of the toughest parts of working remotely. They come in all shapes, colors, sizes and ages. Everyone has their own items that will pull them away from work, so there is no point in trying to list them out. However, they fall into a few categories that I will discuss. If it is a spouse or roommate, then let them know what you need to get done and when; keep them in the loop and set boundaries. Sometimes that is easier said than done, but it is a great test on relationships. If it is little people – children – then I am truly unqualified to make any recommendations. If this issue is TV, food, or nice weather, then find ways to focus on work. Perhaps spending the few minutes to put on business attire will get you in the mindset of work; this can certainly be a helpful tool when you first start working remotely. Tracking exactly how many hours you worked in a day by writing it down will let you know if there is a distraction or focus problem.
- Work Station: It is easy to sit on the couch, or in bed, when working remotely, but that may not be your most productive location. Find a place where you can focus – the kitchen table, an actual desk, etc. Like distractions, when you first get started, it is easier to transition from a work desk to a desk at home.
Working remotely is an opportunity to work on your own terms. I have found it is the chance to maximize the amount of work that can be accomplished, as well as the amount of extra time dedicated to your personal life. For some, it needs to be eased into because it is a big step and there are many potential distractions. However, I have always looked at working remotely as the opportunity to get ahead while having more personal time to keep the batteries charged.
Please share your own helpful hints for staying focused or maximizing your time while working remotely in a comment below.