How To Be Productive When Working Remotely
Once upon a time, human beings needed to be present in a collectice space in order to work. Then, technological advancements and different job varieties occured that allowed human beings to work remotely, thus making their lives easier in many ways. The end.
That's the world we live in.
Gone are the days where every job requires you to be physically present at the job site at all times. We live in a world where it is necessary for some employees to work remotely much of the time if not all of the time. This sounds like a dream come true for many people and, for the most part, it really is. Everybody wins here--employees don't have to miss out on work and employees don't have to lose out on productivity. Or do they?
One of the benefits of leaving the house to work is that it puts you in a mindset to work. When you're working remotely, from the place that is your sanctuary for all intents and purposes, you tend to lose out on the productivity a bit. But there are plenty of ways to hack your brain so you still feel like you're working.
Minimizing distractions is probably the most critical component to working productively. There's the TV, there's the phone, game consoles, pets, children--the list goes on. Generally, these distractions don't exist when you're in an office, but at home they are unavoidable. Unfortunately, they are not altogether avoidable either. It is inevitable that you will come in contact with these distractions at some point during the day.
You don't have to eliminate them completely--for most of us that would be impossible. The best thing would be to cut back on them. Try leaving your phone in a separate room. Tell yourself you won't play your game unless you've gotten a certain amount of work done. Establish a systyem of compromise with the children so that they don't interrupt your day too often. Give the pets an interactive toy so they aren't distracted by the fact that you're home. The more you can reduce distractions, the more you'll be able to keep yourself focused and relatively productive.
Select a Workspace & Leave it
Making sure that you have a specific area in which to work will go a long way in making sure that you can minimize your distractions. If you're not on your bed, you won't be tempted to sleep. If you're not in the living room, you won't be tempted to watch TV. It may be difficult for many of us, but not impossible. You can set up shop in the kitchen. Perhaps take a table you already have and move it to a more secluded area. Whatever you think may work, give it a try even if it may be having a selected space on the floor. It helps to train your brain to understand that a certain space is work related.
There is an additional component to this: at the end of the day, make sure you leave your work space and do not reenter it until your next work day. This is a part of training your brain. If you remain in your work space while watching movies on your laptop, then your brain will never fully recognize that area as a workspace. This would hinder your ability to be productive. Even when you are taking your breaks you'll need to leave that space. After some time your brain will being to understand that it's time for work when you enter that space.
Stick to your Schedule
When you're working remotely, it's easy to want to relax most of the time and then sign on at the time when it's absolutely necessary. I wold advise against that. The more you stick to your routine, the more likely it is that your brain will believe that you're going to work, thus mentally preparing you for said task. If you get coffee in the morning, do that. If you prepare your lunch early, do that as well.
This is not limited to your schedule before you work, though. Stick to your work schedule as well. This means taking your breaks and signing off when necessary. For many poeple, becuase they are home, they may take a break at any given time simply because they can. This is a problem, though, because now you're wrestling with yourself. If you believe that you can take a break whenever you want, you will and it won't help with your productivity. Take your breaks as you would while physically in an office and go back to work when they are over. Stick to them and you shouldn't have a problem.
This goes for signing off too. There are some who might get lost in their work. They'll get so tied up with it that they may forget to sign off at the end of the day. This may be especially true since there isn't any travel time to deal with. Many might see that added time as time they can continue working. It's not. Sign off when you're supposed to and get on with your life otherwise you can burn yourself out.
Change Your Clothes
When you're getting ready for working in the office each day, what's one of the first things you try to figure out? It's almost always trying to decide what to wear. Now that you're working remotely, don't let that fire die. Continue to decide what to wear while working. Understandably, you want to be a little comfortable while at home but that's becuase your brain is already trained to be comfortable while at home. You don't have that same mindset when you're at work, so you're going to have to fight against it in this scenario.
You can start small. Maybe you don't wear your full suit. Maybe something a little more lax like khakis or jeans with a polo. Honestly, even changing into leggings and a hoodie would probably be okay to start. The goal here is to change out of whatever you slept in, effectively alerting your brain that it's time to get up and do something else and be productive.
Whether you do this on your break time or you do this after your day has ended doesn't matter. The point is that you need to do it. When you're working remotely, your commute is eliminated. You don't get outside and smell the fresh air or soak in the sun. This is something you need, though. No one is saying you have to run a marathon, but it's important to get outside and stretch your legs and get your blood flowing. Take a quick walk around the block. Maybe you can even just stand outside for a bit and enjoy the simplicity of being outside. Read a book outside. All of that is fine so long as you make the effort to get outside.
Going outside and distancing yourself from your home and work area is crucial to your mental stability. I know that sounds extreme, but it's not. This particular recommendation is more important now than ever. Currently, we are extremely limited in what we can do to kill time and get a release. If you tether yourself to your home and workspace, you're probably going to burn yourself out from a mental standpoint. Sometimes you just need a break from everything. When working from the office, your break is when you go home and vice versa. Well, with everything being in one place, extra steps are needed to avoid falling into a pit of despair and obsession. Going outside will allow you to reset your mind and allow you to continue working in a more refreshed state without wanting to go crazy.
At the end of the day...
This may be commonplace for the veterans who are used to this, but for many, this is uncharted territory. It's hard to weather the storm that is the coming together of your two worlds: work life and personal life. Some people take it in stride and others don't. That's okay. Everyday is not going to perfect. I doubt everyday was perfect at the office. If it was, then tell us your secrets. Some days might be more challenging than others and that's okay too. So long as you make the effort to ensure a productive environment for yourself, that's all anyone can ask right now.