Working remotely at first seems like a blessing, but without proper strategies that blessing can quickly become a curse. More freedom, in many ways, requires more discipline.
Many remote workers find that their productivity decreases after the first few months of working outside of an office. So it’s vitally important that workers implement strategies to stay ahead of the curve.
5 Ways to Stay Productive While Working Remotely
The good news is, with some structure in place, we can produce some of our best work while working remotely.
I’ve been working remotely on and off for the past two years, and by using the five strategies below, I’ve helped triple my company’s revenues and stay focused on my daily tasks at hand.
Here are 5 ways to stay productive while working remotely:
1. Set a Designated Start and Stop Time
When you work remotely, it can be easy to set your start time to when you wake up in the morning. This can be highly problematic.
We all want to sleep in, but it keeps us from interacting with our team and gives others the impression that you’re working your own hours (which can cause resentment).
If you’re working from the same time zone as your team, make your start and stop time the exact same as your co-workers, and be online and reachable for those hours.
Personally, I work in the Pacific Time Zone while my co-workers operate from the East Coast – so I start at 6AM and am online when they get into the office at 9AM EST.
It can be tempting to sleep in or leave early, but don’t give in. Don’t put things off now with the intention of getting them done on your own hours. Finish your work within your designated work hours and keep the pressure turned up. We all need a little structure in our work life – and the first place to add it is around your time.
2. Always Be Connected With Your Team
The list of benefits that come from working on site with your team is long. It allows us to collaborate and work together. Being able to bounce ideas off of teammates or getting advice on difficult tasks is invaluable.
That’s why when you’re working remotely, you need to try to come up with ways to supplement for the lack of quick access you’d have to teammates in the office.
When I work remotely, I’m always connected with my team during work hours to ensure I’m a part of the daily happenings.
With Slack, we can ask each other questions, vote on ideas, and be aware of what everyone is working on throughout the day. While Slack works great, you can also use software like HipChat, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
Just make sure that the rest of your team is on board, and that they keep you involved in the day to day happenings.
3. Keep a Running To Do List and Make it Public
Everyone has their own preferred way of keeping a to do list, and they’re all valid. What matters most is that you keep a to do list that you’ll actually stick to.
Personally, I like to log five things each day that I want to see accomplished, with the most important tasks kept at the top of the list. Gary Keller’s book ‘The One Thing’ does a great job of articulating that not all tasks are created equal. So give importance to the things on your list that matter the most.
To add further accountability to your to do list, try sharing your daily list with your team. We use Trello for task management within our office, and keep our daily to do lists within that platform.
It’s a great way to see what everyone is working on, and what they’ve accomplished at the end of the day. Give it a try – it’s sure to motivate you to cross items off before everyone leaves for the evening.
4. Have a Work Station
Too many times, remote workers think that it’s okay to work from bed, the couch, or somewhere else comfortable. If you want to get great, meaningful work done, you’ll need to set up a workstation for yourself.
It gets you in the zone, and tells your brain that while you’re in that specific station, it’s work time. This can be a hard strategy for remote workers, but I promise you’ll see an increase in productivity if you only work from one place.
It also means that you won’t be tempted to turn on the TV, play video games, or do anything else that you wouldn’t do while at the office.
If you’re serious about increasing your productivity while working outside of the office, don’t think twice about this strategy.
5. Limit Your Distractions
This folds into both points one and four, and it’s crucial if you’re going to be working out of the office.
If you’re working from home, it can be easy to start doing laundry or the dishes during your work hours – don’t fall victim to the trap. When you’re working, you need to make your work your number one priority.
Household chores can be done when you’re off the clock. Keep the TV off, and the YouTube browser window closed. Work as though you’re at the office when you’re working from home and don’t let your surroundings get in the way.
While these strategies might sound difficult to implement, they guarantee you an increase in productivity while working remotely. Bite the bullet and give them a try today.