As an entrepreneur who gave up an office job to pursue financial freedom and professional aspirations, I’ve done my fair share of remote work. In fact, to this day, I still work from home. And I believe it’s the best possible solution for me.
However, working remotely isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
From the moment I exchanged the office for an at-home setup, I’ve had to experiment with methods and strategies that would allow me to get everything done without actually working 24/7. Today, I can say I have a solid system. It’s not 100% perfect (after all, what is?), but it works. And, best of all, I can easily modify it to suit my current needs and workload.
Are you just getting started with remote work, or have you been at it for a while? If you’re looking to improve your routine, these are the best strategies for working remotely that have been effective for me.
1. Create a Routine
The most important strategy for working remotely is to come up with a good routine. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing too much or too little, then having to deal with the consequences down the line. Especially when you’re in charge of your own day.
For me, finding a good routine was not easy. I used to accept most projects that came my way, and that resulted in having to work much more than the standard eight hours daily. Sometimes, it would be ten PM or later before I was done for the day. At this point, I’d be dead tired, have zero patience for my family, yet my brain would still be wired from staring at screens, so I’d have trouble falling asleep.
Ultimately, my solution was to set a schedule and stick with. I now wake up at the same time every morning, practice some self-care (meditation or yoga), then get to work by eight AM. I’ve set a hard-stop time for five PM, which means that I still get the afternoon to spend with my daughter, exercise, and relax before bed. This way, I don’t have trouble falling asleep as I did before. Plus, I feel rested and refreshed when I wake up in the morning, which helps me do better, focused work without having to rely on too much coffee.
2. Only Work at Your Desk
I must admit it took me a bit too long to figure this one out.
When you switch to a remote way of working, it sounds like paradise. After all, who wouldn’t want to work in their PJs, from their couch, lazing about and just feeling so incredibly relaxed while getting things done?
Here’s the bad news: no matter how good it sounds, it’s actually a terrible idea.
The great thing about going to an office every day is that the physical space is likely to be optimized for getting things done. So, even when we’re working from home (or a local coffee house), we need to intentionally create that same effect.
If you’re one of the lucky people to have a home office, then you’re good to go. All you’ve got to do is make sure your work stays there.
But, if you’ve got to make do with what you have, then try to implement some of the following strategies:
- Dedicate a small space to be your makeshift office. Ideally, it will be somewhere where you won’t be interrupted by roommates or family members.
- Set up your screens to support proper posture, and get a good chair or stool. If you can alternate between a sitting and standing position while working, do it. Trust me, your back and muscles will be grateful.
- Get a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. As noise makes for the most common distraction that hinders productivity, this is going to be an easy fix for a real problem. You don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars on a good product, but choose one that’s comfortable to wear for long hours. Then, all you have to do is find the right playlist on the music streaming app of your choice, and you’ll be good to go.
- Block social media and other time-wasting websites in your browser and smartphone. Just do it. You’ll thank me when you realize you can do all your assignments at least twice as quickly without unnecessary distractions.
3. Check in with the Team Regularly
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t nurture healthy relationships with your teammates and clients.
I find that checking in with them every day helps me be in touch with our common goals. Moreover, it keeps us connected, so that, even though each one of us is working from a remote location, we’re still communicating effectively.
Whether we’re developing a new project plan and need to get on the same page about the details, or if we’re all working on separate to-dos for a common task, healthy communication is the key to our success.
Personally, I use Slack, Skype, and send the occasional email. But, if you’re more comfortable with other solutions, go ahead and continue using those. Just make sure you’re communicating with your teammates regularly. This way, everyone has insight into each other’s progress and challenges, allowing you to react to issues promptly.
4. Pursue Passion Projects
Now here’s a tip that applies both to remote workers and those who spend the majority of their time in an office.
When you’re leading an entrepreneurial lifestyle, it can become too easy to get lost in the complicated details that require your constant attention. But chances are, you didn’t start your own company so that you could spend more time doing your taxes or taking care of admin. Sure, these are crucial for any business to run smoothly, but they’re completely energy-draining.
My solution for this is to always include a passion project in my day.
Whether that’s writing a blog post for my website, doing research on a subject I’m interested in, or even cleaning up my virtual folders. Of course, there are days when I don’t feel up to much, but even then, I try to motivate myself with something small, like a tasty lunch or a mid-day meditative walk to get my creative juices flowing.
5. Find the Tools That Work for You
Finally, remote work can be a challenge. After all, you’re left to your own devices 99% of the time (unless, of course, you’re outsourcing part of your tasks, which you should definitely consider). But, that doesn’t mean you have to struggle to get everything done.
With the right tools, remote work can become a piece of cake.
For one, you can get started by using productivity and automation apps. Most are free, easy to get used to, and they save you lots of time (or give you great insights into how to use it more efficiently). My suggestion is that you implement them in your routine one by one. Make sure you have full command of one tool before you start using another. This way, you’ll get much better results and save yourself from having to use three different applications when one could have been enough.
Don’t underestimate the apps that aren’t necessarily built for productivity, either. A good music app, an eye health app, or even your smartwatch can ensure that you practice healthy habits while working. It may seem irrelevant, but, ultimately, a bit of self-care goes a long way in helping you perform at your best.
Remote work is slowly becoming the new normal. When done right, it can boost productivity, encourage a healthy life-work balance, and give you more control over your day.
But, it also takes some getting used to.
So, if you’re just getting started, try to implement some of these strategies. They’ve definitely been effective for me and might work for you too. And, hey, if you find they’re not your cup of tea, you can always modify or exchange them for something that yields better results. After all, you’ve got full control over how you get things done. So why not make the most of it?