Anyone that works remotely can vouch for how amazing it is! (Incase you missed it, we highlighted the top pros in our recent blog.) There’s nothing more empowering then having the autonomy of choosing when and where you work. No more 7am alarm clocks (unless you like them, you early birds), long, sluggish afternoons at the office or wanting to poke your eyeballs out during your daily commute through rush hour.
Yet all that unsupervised freedom can also lead to a multitude of distractions that keep us from being as productive as we may want to be.
The one thing that you realize when you begin working remotely is just how much discipline and self-motivation it requires; often just trying to stay on track can require as much focus as the actual tasks at hand.
Below, we’ve laid out some tried and tested ways to stay on track while working remotely:
1. Find the Right Work Environment
While the idea of working in bed sounds fabulous, you may find that your pajamas and un-brushed teeth aren’t a great motivator for accomplishing anything, let alone doing your best work. It might then be a good idea to create a designated workspace for yourself. This could be in your home or outside of it. You may also find that different spaces are great for different types of work. Have some writing to do? Perhaps an ocean view and a glass of wine will provide some needed inspiration. Mundane data entry to do? Maybe your comfy couch keeps you cozy. While your local coffee shop can keep you from feeling too lonely and save you from personal distractions that you may fall victim to when working from home. Try different places and see what works for you.
2. Keep Organized
You’ll only be able to stay on track with your work if you know exactly what it is you have to do. So you will need to be your own project manager and master the art of list making and staying organized. You can use Notes or Reminders on your iPhone (which sync up nicely with your Mac if you’re using one and ensure you have your most current list at your fingertips on every device), or perhaps you prefer to kick it old school with a trusty Moleskine notebook and pen. You could even stop by the office supply store and pick up a whiteboard to hang in your home office if that’s where you work. Whatever method you select, try to stick to it so you’re always on track.
Without the water-cooler chatter, life can become isolating while working remotely, so take advantage of every opportunity to communicate with other members of the team. Connect on something like WhatsApp for quick messages and team banter. Use Skype for semi-regular meetings with your team. Sometimes a call can be quicker and more effective than an email (and these days international calls can be made affordably using FaceTime Audio or Viber). And don’t forget about social media!
4. Get Moving
Working remotely typically includes a laptop and therefore a lot of sitting. Our projects can often consume us and hours can go by without even realizing how long it’s been since you first sat down. Set a reminder and get up and get stretching at least a couple times a day. Get your blood flowing! It’s also a good idea to stay active (and with such a flexible schedule and work location, you have no excuse not to). Schedule in a daily workout before, after or in the middle of your day and don’t skip it! It will pump you with endorphins and get you motivated when you sit back down to work.
5. Play Your Jams
T.V. is actually incredibly distracting, but music on the other hand can really get those creative juices flowing. So put in your headphones or flick on your Bluetooth speaker and blast your favourite tunes to help you stay focused. No one at the coffee shop is going to know you’re piping a stream of 80s power ballads through your ears. Go crazy.
6. Stay Flexible
A piece of advice often given is to make a schedule and stick to it, however sometimes this can lead to putting too much pressure on yourself. The joy of working remotely is the flexibility of fitting your life around your work and your work around your life, so don’t beat yourself up if life comes up and your schedule changes. So long as you have your trusty to-do list, you can easily ensure it all gets done with some re-shuffling.
If you have any advice on how to stay focused for your fellow freelancers, leave a comment below.