“Once someone has experienced the lifestyle benefits of working remotely, they’re highly unlikely to pick another cubicle job”
– David Heinemeier Hansson
As a stickler for rules and rigidity, it’s no surprise that only 2 out of 6 of my past jobs were considered as the typical “9 to 5” jobs. I have always felt that I thrive best when I am given the flexibility and autonomy to do things my way. As you may already know, this is not always the case when one is working in a corporate job. Hence over a year ago, I had decided to leave my very last office job. Since then, I have been working remotely and I absolutely love it. Though I now hold a full time job, running & building a business as well as keeping up this blog, there are simply no limitations as to where I am able to work from.
Having spent years of experience working without having a set schedule and/or location, people often asked me how I am able to do so effectively. So whether you are already in a remote job and looking for tips to make the most of it, thinking of taking on a remote job or venturing out to create your own business, I’d like to share with you 5 tips I have found to be especially useful when working remotely.
1. Set Deadlines & Work around them
As ironic as it may seem, one of the biggest challenges most people face when it comes to working remotely is that they are essentially their own boss. Sure, if you still have a boss or a supervisor you report to there’ll be e-mails and calls here and there to remind you of your deadlines but for the most part, when working remotely, you are ultimately the only person responsible of making sure that your tasks and responsibility are carried out in a timely manner.
Though it’s true that we often can’t quite pin our days to stick to the schedule we’ve set for ourselves because things seem to have a knack of changing unexpectedly, if you make a point to set deadlines and divide your time accordingly, you will much less likely to waste time as you have a clear plan as to how your working day will and should play out.
2. Create a Suitable Working Space
As I mentioned before, one of the best things about working remotely is that we can do our job practically anywhere we want. Though there are some exceptions, for the most part, as long as I have my lap top, a stable wi-fi network and my notebook, I am set. With that said, whether I am working at home, a cafe or a beach, I always do my best to minimize distraction. Usually, I am able to do this by blocking time – usually a couple hours a time – to focus it on solely work. This means wherever I plan to work that day, I would let those who will be around me not to disrupt me during those set hours. When I am in a public place such a cafe where I am bound to be surrounded by strangers, I found that simply putting on my ear phones and listen to music keeps me focused and keep the distractions at bay.
3. Limit Use of Social Media
Unless your job involves a whole lot of social media use which mine happens to be, it’s crucial to limit the frequency and length of time that you check on social media accounts throughout the day. In my past remote jobs, I found that assigning exact time and duration for social media check-ups helps me to limit the time that I spend on them.
It’s always tempting to cheat and check on social media outside of the time you’ve designated for it so during your work hours it’s helpful to keep your cell phone away from your sight but close enough for you to be able to easily reach for it should it ring (incase of urgent/ emergency calls).
4. Designate Breaks
It may sound silly to some, but when working remotely, some people have a tendency to over work themselves. Unlike in an office setting where we are triggered to take our breaks (lunch break, coffee break etc.) by our colleagues or when the clock strikes a certain time, when we are working on our own, we need to rely on ourselves to do so.
Giving yourself short breaks in between tasks is crucial as it helps you to refresh your mind and to give you a burst of relaxation. Think of these breaks as well deserved little rewards to keep you motivated. These breaks though brief, can help you to build mental endurance over a period of time and help you accomplish that long to do list of yours with greater ease.
Whether you choose to spend it to take a 10 minute brisk walk outside, to indulge in a delicious snack or to give a quick call to our loved ones – it helps to give yourself the ability to step away from all that you have to get done to maintain a productivity momentum throughout the day.
5. Connect with Your Team
Though not all remote jobs involve other team members, if you happen to have colleagues who are on the same boat as you are, do reach out and make that extra effort to connect.
Many people I’ve talked to who have remote jobs are hesitant to reach out to their team members because they feel as if they are a “bother” when they do. More often than not though, your team members would gladly welcome the “distraction”.
Reach out as much as you can to the extent that it adds value to your working relationships. Putting that extra effort to get to know your colleagues, build rapport and help each other out enables you to establish a professional friendship that makes the team as a whole work more effectively and efficiently. In this kind of culture, you feel more invested in your job because your working ambiance, though remote, will act as a community in which the members “have each other’s backs.”
There you have it, the above tips have helped me to “master” the art of working remotely and to fully embrace the digital nomad way of life. Working remotely does take cultivation and implementation of discipline on a daily basis but I found it to be it well worth it as it will give you the flexibility and autonomy you just can’t get in most conventional desk jobs. I hope these tips will prove to be as useful for you as it was for me and help you thrive in your own remote job.