Working remotely may sound like we’re playing around on the computer all day, according to our parents, but it’s an honest way to make a living! And yes, we can do it from the comfort of our living room or with a team at our favorite lunch spot. What a shocker! Who knew that a flexible schedule could ever be possible for those who have a solid work ethic? If you believe it, it's already yours! Seriously, there are remote jobs waiting for driven, self-motivated people to apply. If you preach about being your own boss, it's time to put your money where your mouth is with that remote workflow.
It isn’t for the faint of heart, and millennials are tapping into this type of work. It not only helps you avoid traffic, but it’s a great way to also reduce your footprint on pollution. It also keeps some change in your account, where gas, coffee, and lunch rack up on the charge card. (Yay for savings!)
It also allows you to be the boss of your own time and develop structure you may have never known you had in you! Want to work on a dynamic team like this? After all, work is work, but it helps when your job is engaging, versatile, and enjoyable. It’s important to be able to get things done and keep an impeccable word on deadlines.
You have to be quick on that keyboard to update anything necessary at any given time. The ability to work from anywhere in the world is freedom in itself, and I say this while I write from halfway across the country. So how does one keep productivity high and strike a balance between work and home life? Prioritizing, breaks, and time management are key factors to working successful outside of a traditional office environment.
Whether in my pajamas at home or in smart casual wear at a coffee shop, it’s easy to get in the zone. But how do you keep that laser focus?
Here are some of my strategies for working smarter when working remotely:
- Create a priority list for the top 3 tasks that must be done today. If there are smaller tasks that are vital, but they aren’t as urgent as others, table it. If you’re able to breeze through the tough tasks first which may take a lot more precision and time, then you can start to tackle the rest of your list. It’s a great idea to mark these tasks with a “complete” or “done” status, so you can visualize the finish line. It sounds silly, but if you see that each item is finished, it motivates you to move along to the next task.
- Know your resources and communicate often as possible. Working remotely is truly a privilege. Not all workplaces offer this opportunity, so you need to understand the responsibility given at this level. Be sure to bookmark all of your resources. I highly recommend that you save these across your working devices, so you always have access. (Yes, you should enjoy your unplugged time, but you’ll thank yourself later if you receive an urgent alert and have access on the device you’re using while on the go.) Be upfront, vocal, and check-in often, so everyone on your team is connected at the pulse of what is going on. Working together is the best when you often touch base with each other. It allows your team an approachable line, and each person can feel confident that everyone has a vital role in the big picture. After all, if we’re aware, we can build off of each other and promote these strengths through creative, strategic work.
- Plan your week or two ahead. Life can happen at any moment, and it’s always a great idea to work ahead if you can. When you’re in a groove, keep going. I like to work until a sense of completion, but for others, it may be efficient to work slowly each day and still hit those future planning goals. Having a physical calendar and post-its are part of my organizational ways. This method also lives in a digital calendar on my phone and laptop, but writing things down helps me remember and recall priorities. If you need to shift priorities outside of your professional work, or your boss calls with updates, you'll be prepared. Having future tasks already completed also lightens the load mentally.
- Visualize and reimagine your workspace to feel comfortable working anywhere. What elements are comfortable, relaxing, and positive for your work ethic? Do you need snacks and ample water? Or do you prefer tea or coffee? Do you need to sit in complete silence like a library setting? Or can you work in a busy drop-in daycare or restaurant? Do you sing while you work? Do you need a specific playlist or artist on repeat? What kinds of clothes will you wear? What supplies do you need to bring with you? Did you remember your chargers? Bring enough pens? These are some of the many questions that run through my brain when getting ready to work at home or on the go. I personally need my chargers, water with snacks, calendar with post-its, over-the-ear headphones with my playlists, and an uninterrupted workspace where I can also get up and return to if need be.
- Recognize what distracts you and have a plan to return. If you’re easily distracted by loud noises, music, others nearby, or maybe even the temperature is interfering with your workflow, take a break. Sometimes working on chores, taking a walk outside, or looking away from your screen can help refresh those eyes and mind, while shifting your perspective. If I have a pressing matter outside of work that cannot be addressed later, sometimes the best way to get work done is to take care of personal business and return with a clear mind. Working remotely will highlight your strengths and opportunities. It’s all about how you work with your needs and react, which will allow you to easily get through with success.