Ah, working remotely. There’s no arguing that working outside of the office – maybe even at home – can be as awesome as it sounds. Imagine, not having to wake up at an ungodly hour, no longer needing to dredge through traffic, and being able to unabashedly binge-watch your favorite shows as you draft an important presentation while still wearing your favorite PJs – awesome, right?
There’s certainly a case or two to be made for working remotely, but it’s also not difficult to see how things can easily turn south if you’re not careful. You might wake up too late, and miss a meeting or waste too much of the day. You might get too hooked up on the show’s current arc, and not notice the hours passing by. You might even get too comfortable during a virtual meeting, and actually fall asleep.
But with just a few tweaks to your remote work setup, you can easily be just as productive outside the office as you are inside, and maybe even more. Here are four tips to get the job done whether you’re in coat-and-tie or your pajamas.
Set Realistic Goals
When you’re not hemmed in by a 9-to-5 work day, it’s easy to think that you have all of 24 hours to do nothing but work. In reality, humans aren’t wired that way, and in between doing your reports and emailing your boss and clients, there are a myriad of other little things that could chip away at your time.
Allot a portion of the day when you would do nothing but work, much like you would if you were in an office. You could break this down into segments, and schedule them when you’re most productive.
If you’re a night owl, for example, you could use two to three hours in the morning to do the less mentally-exhaustive tasks like catching up on emails or scheduling meetings. You could sit down for the remaining hours later at night when your brain is fully prepared to do some heavy work. There’s also the added bonus that these hours are typically the quietest, when people are getting ready to tuck in.
More importantly, figure out precisely what you should be doing in those allotted hours. Be smart about your To-Do List.
If you feel like you have many tasks to do, first list down all the work that needs to get done, then start a fresh To-Do List. From your bigger, less organized list, figure out which is the one thing that you must absolutely finish that day, and write that down on your new To-Do List. Only when you’ve accomplished your top priority should you start adding more. This way, you actually clear out the things you actually have to do, rather than be overwhelmed by tasks you can accomplish at a later date.
As an added bonus, and an easy pick-me-up, you can also start a Done List. In this list, you write down the things you’ve already accomplished, whether it’s a work task or a personal errand. Having a Done List can really make you feel productive about your day.
If you’ve ever found offices too boring or dull, it’s for a very good – and obvious – reason: offices are designed to get you to focus on work by keeping distractions to a minimum. But when you work outside, it’s up to you to deal with distractions.
Start with the obvious: social media, games, and whatever series or movies you’re currently bringing on.
Download app blockers on your phone, like Offtime (paid) or Flipd (free) to crack down on your unproductive phone hours.
Install a similar distraction-blockers on your laptap, leaving only the bare necessities like single emails or one comms channel (think Skype, Viber, etc.)
Keep your phone out of reach too, like at the very bottom of your bag, in a drawer away from you, or in another room altogether.
The trick is to be realistic about your time out: going for eight full hours without a quick social media break might be counterproductive when you get too distracted about what you could potentially miss out on, so it’s better to schedule shorter increments like three or four hours of work time, and allow yourself the occasional 30-minute window for social media, snacks, and bathroom breaks.
Fix Your Space
You need a dedicated working space. Your productivity can really suffer if you constantly have to find various nooks and crannies at home to work, or if your “work area” is also used by other people for a variety of other things.
Set up a space at home that is specifically for you to do work in, and make sure your housemates respect that space, too. Let them know not to bother you when you’re using that space, unless it’s absolutely urgent.
Your workstation should also ideally not have to double as anything else other than a place for you to work, but if you or someone else needs that extra floor space, be sure to clear it up immediately afterward so you can readily return to your work.
And even if your station only carries your work things, make sure to regularly clean it up. Clutter can be distracting, even distressing, and can not only hamper your productivity, but also start affecting your health should it start piling up (think cockroaches and other nasties). Only have the essentials out when you work: your laptop, notebook, the documents you need, a bottle of water, and the occasional snack. Anything else goes to your drawers or cubbies.
Don’t Just Stay At Home
They say that complacency breeds failure, and if there’s one place on earth you’re almost guaranteed to be complacent, it’s your home.
Your home is where you’re most comfortable in, where you can simply relax and unwind, sit back and take a break after a hard day’s work. Most homes are not designed to be places of work, which is why it’s actually imperative to get out of your house every so often to keep up your productivity – especially if you work remotely on a regular basis.
Consider investing in a spot at a co-working space. Co-working spaces are designed to have all the functionality of traditional offices, but retain the flexibility inherent to remote working.
In Ortigas, WeRemote and other similar spaces are equipped with amenities like desks, meeting rooms, power sockets, a solid internet connection, and even a well-stocked pantry, all to recreate the aspects of traditional office stations that best boost productivity, but without the conventional restrictions of fixed work hours.
You can clock in whenever you want, and go to the “office” as often or as seldom as you like in a week, all depending on your contract. In these spaces, you’re surrounded by others who are in a similar position and situation as you, making for a highly supportive environment where you can even easily network with potential partners and clients.
With a co-working space, you can work remotely without the usual distractions of home. And with the conducive working environment, you can be assured you won’t feel like you’re wasting any time while you’re there.
Before we say goodbye and send you off back to work, here’s a quick review of our top productivity tips for remote workers.
- Set realistic goals. Prioritize the one thing you must absolutely finish that day, then work on the rest when you’re done.
- Block distractions. Deactivate apps on your phone and block websites on your laptop, but don’t forget to allow yourself the occasional break.
- Fix your space. Clean up your area and get rid of distracting clutter. And if you’re working remotely often enough –
- Consider investing in a spot at a co-working space. Having a dedicated office space, without the stifling restrictions that come with traditional office setups, can make you more motivated to work and increase your productivity.
There are innumerable benefits to working remotely, but it can be tough to stay productive when you’re working in a place that’s not designed for that. Boosting your productivity can be a simple matter of making the right To-Do Lists or relocating to a nice, comfortable spot.
Follow these tips and let us know how your workday goes!
One thought to “How to Actually Be Productive When Working Remotely”
Hey, I really like this article and agreed with all your points about increasing productivity while working remotely especially the first and the last point- Setting Realistic Goals and Don’t just stay at home. Although I like all the 4 points. But these are the two points which I totally can relate to. Thanks for writing such an amazing article.