People have been working remotely for a long time. In light of the Covid-19 situation many companies have implemented a work from home strategy. This has seen more people having to set up a home office. It has also seen many people lose their employment and set up their own online business which they can do from home or while travelling. No matter if you are working from home, travelling in a van, being a digital nomad moving between countries or working in a coffee shop you need to set up your work space for success. It can be hard but with some small habits and the right mindset you can build a routine that allows you to maximise your productivity to reach your goals. So how can you stay productive, inspired, creative and live up to all the expectations that your new lifestyle has thrown at you? Well here are my tips to successfully work remotely.
Have A Dedicated Work Space
Not all of us have a spare room that we can set up as an office. Still, having a dedicated spot for undertaking your work is vital. Your dedicated spot must be comfortable so you can establish an efficient and productive work routine. Your dedicated work space can be wherever you make it. But try to keep it in the same place so whenever you go there, it feels like your work place. Plus you need to be able to focus on the tasks at hand and feel motivated by your chosen work space so you can tackle whatever comes your way. So whether your are working from home, in a coffee shop, in a co-working space, sitting by a pool or in the place you are currently living, have a dedicated work space.
Design Your Work Space For Efficiency
Once you have your chosen dedicated work space you need to design it so you have all your required equipment in place to be productive. Even with the required equipment the most important thing is being comfortable in your work environment, if not, it can affect your productivity and efficiency. So pay attention to ergonomics. From the very start of your remote work journey you need to figure out what environment you work successfully in. Do you work better in silence or do you prefer the noise of a cafe? Answering this will help you choose your work space. Then design your space along with what you need within your work space.
The most important pieces of equipment in your office should be your desk or table and chair. When you get these right you should be comfortable in your environment. If you don’t want to sit, investigate having a stand up desk. Or like me, as a digital nomad I don’t always have access to a desk so I travel with my portable laptop desk. This allows me to sit in a lounge chair, lie in a bed or stand at a table if I am unable to work from a dedicated table or desk. Even though it is portable my equipment is right there in front of me making to help me feel like I am working.
Some people like to include Feng Shui in their home office design. Nothing wrong with that! According to Feng Shui practitioners, it is important to place your desk in a ‘commanding position’. The best position is diagonal to the room’s entrance with you facing the door. A solid wall behind you is also preferred. And colour can be important also. According to Feng Shui, green is associated with decisiveness and growth and brings forth feelings of calm which helps with your creative performance.
Invest in Reliable Tech
To work remotely you will need reliable tech equipment. Without it, forget it. Firstly, you will need a device to do your work on. Most have a computer or laptop. Any remote worker will tell you that access to consistent and fast WiFi is integral to their success. There is nothing worse than becoming frustrated with slow and intermittent WiFi that could see you losing connections on a video call. Other tech gear you may need could include a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a light ring. But your equipment can depend on the job you are doing.
Have a Structured Work Schedule and Stick to it
Working remotely has some advantages including the flexibility of working when you want, unless that is, you have specific hours you must work. Maintaining defined work hours will help you stay productive. If you have been thrust into a remote work environment, the lack of barrier between work and home life can be challenging. Particularly if you find yourself answering phone calls while doing laundry or keeping kids occupied while you take a zoom meeting. But if you have the choice of hours you can work, I highly suggest you work when you are most productive. So if you find you are most productive at 11pm at night then this should be the time you do your work so you are at your most productive.
Create a to-do List
Creating a to-do list will help you to not lose track of tasks that should be completed. I’m a list person and regularly write down in a notepad what tasks I want to complete and when by. This helps me immensely to stay on top of things I need to do. So far, I haven’t missed a deadline! And when I get confused as to what to do next I usually check my to-do list to see what else I must tick off my list.
Lean on Your Community
A myth about working remotely is that people who work remotely can be lonely. Yes, that can be true sometimes as when you work remotely you may be on your own. You won’t be able to chat in the lunchroom but with all that tech gear you have you can easily stay connected. Connected to fellow work makes and with fellow remote workers. Other remote workers can be found in co-working spaces or online. Facebook is a good place to find other people working online. There are a number of popular digital nomad and remote working groups to join. Always make some time in your schedule to stay connected.
Take Regular Breaks and Get Some Exercise
Taking regular breaks and even getting some exercise on these breaks can help you stay focused. Just ensure you don’t extend your break and deviate from work at hand as you may lose your inclination and waste the rest of your day. Though is catching up on your favourite Netflix series wasteful? Sometimes it is nice to take a day off and do some binge TV watching. Setting a reminder to let you know when to step away from your desk and also back to it, will help. It is recommended to get away from the desk, every two hours or so, allowing you to clear your head, stretch your legs, get a coffee and be able to return to work with a fresher perspective.
Know When To ‘Log Off’
The world has become very connected and you can receive social media alerts and emails continuously. So when you are working online it can be hard to turn off, particularly if you are working in other time zones. But it is important to set a time when you officially ‘log off’ for the night or day. No-one can sustain being available 24/7. You need time off-line to renew where you look after you, eat well, exercise and get those other things in life done. Like spending time with your family and/or friends, feeding the cat, watering the plants or taking your dog for a walk.
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Remote Work Hacks To Help Make Your Work Day Easier
Some of these hacks have already been touched on but I will mention them again because they are great remote work hacks.
- Keep your workspace clean and organised. Nothing speaks efficiency like a clean and well-organised workstation.
- Have a comfortable work environment. A comfortable chair and your desk at the right height are essential. And if you can’t have these make your remote work area comfortable by using other equipment such as a portable laptop desk.
- Know when to ‘log off’ for the day. You don’t want to burn out.
- Stick to a routine. Working from home doesn’t mean you need to give up your usual routines. If you have one, stick to it.
- Get out of your pyjamas and into your regular clothes, just like you are heading to work. It can help you prepare mentally for work.
- Work when you are most productive, that is if you are working for yourself and you have the choice.
- Set clear rules. If you have roommates, spouses or siblings it is very unlikely you will avoid or can ignore them all day so set some ground rules. Explain to them when you need to work and if they cannot interrupt you during this time.
So there you have it, my top 10 tips to be a successful remote worker. I hope you have found them of interest and will implement them into your own remote work journey. I have implemented them in my remote work life as a digital nomad and I find them extremely helpful to keep me productive.
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.