Ways to Make Remote Work Better for You
Few things are as satisfying as doing a job you love at your own pace. Remote work offers that kind of satisfaction and has been a godsend for freelancers and employees.
While the work-from-home model isn’t new, it spread like wildfire in the past couple of years. And people love it. According to Upwork’s 2021 Future of Workforce Report, 40.7 million Americans will be fully remote in the next five years.
However, remote work isn’t all milk and honey. It can get challenging if you’re new to the model or don’t have the right system in place. Teleworkers face some common problems, including reduced managerial guidance, difficulty separating personal and work lives, distractions at home, and isolation from team members.
Thankfully, you can beat these challenges with the right approach and enjoy the benefits of remote work. We’ll show you eight ways to do that.
Use a time tracker
As a remote worker, you use time to quantify your work input, whether you’re paid by the hour or not. Time also plays a vital role when measuring your productivity, determining how you deal with tasks, and organizing your workflow.
Time trackers are great tools that help you make sense of how you use time. While they’re primarily used to track and calculate billable hours, you can use them for much more.
For example, a time tracker can show you an overview of a client’s value. It provides data that informs your decision to drop a client or review charges when you see how much time you spend on their jobs.
It also helps with client trust. Since some time trackers allow you to share clock in and clock out reports with clients, they’ll have proof of your dedication to their projects.
That’s not all. With a time monitoring app, you can get rid of distractions. For example, some tools record how much time you spend on websites and applications. You can then view what distracts you the most during the day and fashion strategies to avoid them.
You can also track time spent doing administrative tasks, sending emails, and talking to clients. This way, you can adjust your billing to cover those hours you don’t usually track.
Find your peak hours
You’re in for quite the revelation if you don’t know your golden hour yet. Your golden hour, peak hour, or prime hour, is a period when you’re most energetic and get a lot of work done. It can be one to three hours long.
A study on 2,000 Americans reported that the most productive work hour starts at 10:54 am on Mondays. However, it works differently for everyone. As the survey showed, work patterns varied across different states, which reported other golden hours.
It’s the same for you. Your peak hours will be different from that of your colleagues. The important thing is finding them. So how to do that?
Monitor your work patterns and keep track of how fast you execute tasks, especially the challenging ones. You can use a time tracker to measure your productivity and efficiency on a task-by-task basis. You should also consider experimenting outside your regular work hours.
Now, it’s one thing to identify your golden hours, and it’s another to use them well. You shouldn’t waste those hours on calls, emails, and trivial tasks. Instead, they should be reserved for challenging tasks that involve critical thinking and decision-making.
Set up a dedicated workspace
Separating work from personal life is a problem many remote workers have succumbed to. Telecommuting becomes tiresome when you can’t prevent domestic distractions and personal matters from seeping into your work schedule. That’s why blending work and personal life is a long-term recipe for disaster.
Setting up a dedicated workspace at home is a step in reestablishing the boundary between your work and life. We naturally develop cognitive biases towards the physical spaces we find ourselves in. For example, when you sit at your office desk some miles from home, you transition from a family person to a professional.
While you don’t have the commute to rewire your brain for work, a dedicated home office should do the trick. This way, you’ll be able to forget the living room chaos and sudden kitchen duties.
You can go a step further and dress the part. For example, stepping into your office attire is another way to stimulate your mind for work and stay focused.
Make sure the office space is detached from areas of the house that come with distractions. If possible, convert a room and soundproof it. Don’t forget to optimize the space for work as much as possible. Ensure you have everything you need. This way, you won’t be prompted to leave often.
Define a work schedule
Having flexible work arrangements doesn’t mean you should juggle work tasks and domestic chores. That kind of practice will only cause interruptions that will lead to errors.
Defining a dedicated daily work schedule is one of the best ways to avoid distraction and boost and maintain productivity.
After setting up your home office, you should create a work schedule and stick to it. This way, you can focus on work, set and meet daily targets, and complete tasks with little to no errors.
Defining your work hours doesn’t start and stop with blocking a period for work. You have to iron out the fine details and optimize each workday for efficiency. Here are tips you should follow:
- Create a list of tasks you’ll handle each day and assign time blocks to each.
- Remember not to take on more than you can handle within your defined working hours.
- Make sure your golden hours fall into your work schedule.
- Since you have a dedicated office, schedule your day to mirror your office calendar.
- Remember to create ample time for breaks.
- Schedule meetings to fall into your less productive periods.
You can predict specific distractions before they obstruct your workflow. For example, if you have commitments during the day, make sure you account for them in your work schedule. This way, you won’t end up smacking your head in the middle of a job and walking out on a task.
You can also assign personal errands to someone else, like signing off on a delivery.
In a recent report, the WHO cautioned workers and employers to develop better work-from-home policies. The experts warned that working longer hours and ignoring other aspects of life could be detrimental to workers’ mental and social well-being.
So, make sure you carve out break periods in your daily schedules and always respect them. Don’t find excuses to procrastinate lunch breaks or extend work hours. These breaks should be as important as your urgent tasks.
Remote work is a great abettor of procrastination. From Netflix and spontaneous decor ideas to children and unwashed dishes, lots of distractions will convince you to put off work for five minutes. And then the five minutes become several hours.
You can start fighting procrastination by considering your work schedule sacred. Challenging yourself to complete tasks on or before their allotted times develops a sense of commitment and dedication.
Doing the difficult jobs first is another way to go. This strategy works, as we often procrastinate because we dread specific challenging tasks. So, starting your day with those tasks plugs you into your work mode, and your mind will be fixated on completing them.
Next, you should avoid multitasking as much as you can. This way, you’re focused on clearing out individual tasks and moving on to the other day.
Maintain a healthy social life
The point of separating your work and personal lives while teleworking is to have a healthy amount of both. Lack of a social life could lead to anxiety and depression, both of which are said to cost the global economy $1 trillion in productivity each year.
So, make sure you don’t sacrifice time with friends and family for more work. Instead, try to arrange your schedule to favor social gatherings and commitments.
You should also build virtual social connections with your colleagues. Another downside of remote work is the physical disconnect from other team members. You’ll lose those spontaneous brainstorming sessions that can happen by the water cooler or break room. You can stay connected by setting up virtual lunch break meetings and other informal activities from time to time.
Don’t Stop optimizing Your Remote Work Strategies
Remember that you can always make work more fun. So as you tinker with different systems, always put productivity at the top of your mind. Also, don’t forget to exercise and maintain a wellness regimen while you work from home. You need a healthy mind to improve your performance.