Working remotely sounds like a dream, but truth be told, it's not as easy as it seems. Here are five tips to help you make the most of your time, workspace and schedule.
Working remotely has a certain cachet, and it's well deserved. Getting your work done from the comfort of home, maybe even in your pajamas? Not ever dealing with rush hour traffic? It sounds like a dream, but truth be told, it's not as easy as it seems.
If you're not careful, working remotely can have adverse effects on both you and your work. Here are some helpful tips to keep your mind and your projects at their best.
Give yourself a schedule
It's a necessity to keep yourself on track. Choose hours during the day where you know you are the most alert and focused.
This may sound like I took away the fun out of the gate, but making your own schedule is a great advantage. It gives you the freedom to work at your own pace and when you feel the most alert, focused, and/or creative.
Using your own personality traits and workflow, you can design a schedule that allows you the kind of day that you want. For example, as a freelance writer, I know that I like to write one entire article, then take a long break before I start the next one so that I don't get bored or distracted. It helps to make a list of tasks that need to be accomplished each day and design your work day based on your task list.
If you need to make adjustments to your schedule, that's the great thing about working on your own time – you can! Just keep your time structured; otherwise, it's easy to slip into laziness or ineffective work.
Choose your workspace wisely
Now that you've created a work schedule, it's time to think about where you're going to get your work tasks completed. Not everyone works the best from home, while others thrive from the comfort of their own home office. Are you going to be tempted to get housework done instead of actual work? Sleep in late? Go on a Netflix binge? If you think any of these may apply to you, it's time to figure out a solution to better adhere to your schedule.
There are several options available: You can work at a local coffee shop if you don't mind the noise. You can work at the library if you like it to be extra quiet. You can rent out a shared office space, called coworking, if you like the camaraderie that a water cooler brings. Wherever your mental game is your best, that's where you should go to work.
Utilize video chat
If you are working by yourself, it can certainly have its perks – you won't be distracted, and that annoying co-worker you don't get along with is no longer an issue. But 40 hours is a long time to spend by yourself, and once in a while, you're going to miss human connection during the workweek.
Using a free app on a regular basis, whether it's a meeting with co-workers or collaborators or distributors, will keep you in touch with other people while remaining in your own private workspace. And you can use a project management app to collaborate when more than simple chat is required. Bonus: It always makes working with someone much easier and emails that much simpler to understand going forward once you've actually spoken to a co-worker face to face.
Another reason to speak over video chat is that some things are just too difficult to explain over email. If you're working in an office, you can speak in person, but when you're at home, you don't have that simple luxury. If you just need to ask a quick question and need an answer right away, you can always disable the video portion and use the app to send an instant message. It can keep things more casual, and you'll always get a response – no more emails getting lost in the fray.
Just remember that video chatting is not the time you want to be in your pajamas, so you'll want to appear that you're working in a more typical office setting.
Separate your work life and your home life
It's especially difficult to "leave it at the office" when your office is wherever you make it. That's where that pesky schedule comes into play again, but this time, it's to keep yourself from working more.
Separating your personal life from your work life is essential to your mental health. Set a time of day when you're finished working. When it's time to turn off the computer, turn it off and leave it off until the next workday.
Stick to the structure
When you work away from an office, it's not as desirable as some may think it is, but for most of us, it really beats having to report at a specific time to a specific person at a specific place. If you have the discipline that working remotely requires, adhering to these tips will allow you the opportunity to enjoy your workday while accomplishing as much – if not more – than you would in any regular office.