I’ve been working remotely for over three years. As in, I work from various places which aren’t an office.
In that time I’ve learned some habits that work for me and some remote working habits that don’t.
In this post I’ll discuss both.
Transitioning to Remote Work Can Be Difficult
Several years ago I was working in a cubicle and yearning to be free.
Free of the confines of those four walls. Free to make appointments at any time of the day. Free to live the life of working from home luxury.
However, soon after I started working from home I hit some hurdles I hadn’t anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade this freedom willingly, I’m just saying that it wasn’t the free for all, running through the meadows naked kind of freedom I thought it would be.
And yes, I do work in my skivvies as often as necessary;)
How to Have a Productive Work at Home Experience
Below are a few dos and don’ts that I’ve personally struggled with, solved, and in some cases am still battling to overcome.
Avoid Vacation Mode
My first day working from home happened after I took a month vacation when our first son was born. What do you think I did differently that day?
You guessed it. Nothing. And subsequently, not much work got done.
It’s a given that its always difficult yo get back into work mode after vacation, but when you go into an office or some other traditional work environment, it doesn’t take long.
When you’re at home, it’s all too easy to stay in the “I’m at home” habits you’re used to.
Dedicated Work Space
My best advice for avoiding the vacation mode mindset when you need to is to create a dedicated work space that only exists to house you when you’re working.
This is easier said then done sometimes, especially if you live in a small space. I get it. But it can be done.
Even if it’s one corner of your dining room table. Set it up as a workspace first thing in the morning so when you sit there, your mind gets into the right “mode”.
Don’t Be Too Accessible
This was and is, a really tough one for me personally. I’m a people pleaser and because of this, it tends to be difficult for me to say no.
When your family and friends know you’re working from home, it doesn’t have the same distinction as if you were working from within an office building physically alongside co-workers, and even your boss.
Because of this, they tend to make requests of you during your work hours that they otherwise wouldn’t make. It’s tough to say no, but you must make them understand that you ARE at work regardless of your location.
Make a List the Night Before
This is a good tactic for everyone, but especially for Internet workers, as most remote work seems to entail.
It’s all too easy to get distracted catching up on the latest industry blogs, social chatter, and forum posts.
Before you know it, the day is near an end and you’ve got six tasks that are half done.
Making a list is easy. Pull out your smartphone or simply make a bulleted list on a scrap of paper and put it on your computer the night before.
It doesn’t have to be detailed, or long. Try listing just three tasks you’d like to complete that day.
It’s going to be tough, but if you keep reminding yourself of that simple little list, it will help to keep you focused and able to accomplish what you need done.
Don’t Check your Email in the Morning!
This is directly related to the list making and focusing discussion above. It may sound crazy, and it may not be something that works for your particular workflow, but I urge you to try it.
As one who makes his living creating content, and marketing brands and digital products, I have accounts with hundreds of services and startups.
Not only that, but I also subscribe to hundreds of different blogs, comment, and social channels.
Guess what that does to my inbox. Several hundred emails every single morning.
Yes, I filter. Yes, I unsubscribe from some of these notifications. But I’m also the curious type and I like to browse through these notifications to make sure I don’t miss an announcement that is important to my business, or the businesses I help to build.
This is why I stopped checking my email in the morning. It’s usually time spent that is not productive to my bottom line.
Someone once said…
The first thing you should do each day, is that thing that earns you revenue.
And checking your email inbox is not that thing.
Creating that new blog post, writing that next chapter in your ebook, coding that feature request into your digital product, calling that client contact…those are the things that are directly related to earning you revenue.
Do those things first and you will feel accomplished at the end of every day.
Get Out of the House
Sure, easy to say and do right?
Wrong. And you know it.
How many times have you started your remote work day in your pajamas and then were surprised it was time to pick the kids up from school, start dinner, or some other nightly ritual?
Working from home is a true blessing, but too much of anything good is too much. You can get stuck in a rut.
My advice is to explore your town and find a few places that you can work from…coffee shops, restaurants, wherever.
I hope by sharing my experience it will help you enjoy your remote working life just a bit more.
p.s. I just wrote this first thing in the morning from my local coffee shop. One large black coffee and to chocolate chips cookies. $2.92 spent for a nice productive morning so far:)