Working from home used to sound like a scam. “You mean I can wear my PJs, watch TV, and get paid for it?” But it’s no longer a myth, and it’s certainly not what many would expect. The advancements of technology have allowed businesses and their employees to become more flexible; creating a whole new era of remote work. We can choose our own location and hours, and get paid for it, but we’re still working.
Yet, working remotely comes with its fair share of challenges. Although technology allows us to perform the work without physically being in the office, technology also has access to a slew of distractions: social media, video entertainment, music; you name it. Plus, when we’re working outside the office, there is a variety of other distractions that can surround us: kids, pets, television, chatter in the cafe, chores, and more. If you’re a remote worker, you may have caught yourself getting distracted quite a few times during your regular day-to-day work. But just because we’re not in the office, doesn’t mean we can slack off on our duties. Here is some Productivity Ninja advice on how to stay productive and focused while working remotely.
The Importance of Communication
When it comes to working remotely, communication is vital. Luckily, technology allows remote workers to stay in constant contact with their coworkers, managers, or groups.
It’s through constant communication that remote workers can let their managers know about any potential distractions (it’s a snow day and the kids are stuck at home), upcoming meetings through teleconference, or any potential questions about a project. Although remote workers might not get to enjoy the occasional water cooler chat, they can still message, discuss, and brainstorm with their peers through communication apps or email.
Without communication, remote workers are running blindfolded through their work, which can lead to problems down the road. Try to set up a time to regularly check in with your manager or the leader on a project, and you might notice a slight improvement in your ability to stay on task!
The biggest struggle with remote working can often be the temptation of distractions. Especially when working at home, those chores start to become harder and harder to ignore. However, as one writer with Appnovation wrote about his home-office experience, those distractions can help keep our minds clear and full of new ideas.
Nathan writes: “When I tell people that I work from home full-time I’m usually asked how I keep the distractions to a minimum. It’s always interesting to see their reactions when I tell them I try to create more distractions throughout my day. I can easily lose track of time for 4-6 hour stretches when I’m heavily involved in something. I try to get up from my desk every 2 hours, to stretch my legs. I’ll go check the mailbox, grab a snack, switch the laundry over or empty the dishwasher. It’s usually during these times when I have most of my ‘AHA!’ moments for the problem i’m working on as I’ve removed myself from the situation a bit and given my brain a chance to process all this info I’ve gathered.”
And it’s true. Sometimes the best epiphanies happen when you’re far away from your desk, processing information. The same principle works well in the office as well: remove yourself from your work and let your brain relax and think. You might be surprised at the ideas that start popping into your head!
The Home Office Aesthetic
One of the biggest tricks to successfully work from home has to do with the environment. Simply working on your laptop while still in bed is a sure-fire way to get a whole lot of nothing done.
That is why many expert freelancers recommend creating a private area that you can use as an office. Breaking away from the rest of your home can help remote workers get in the mindset of being in the office. Although you might be in your comfy clothes, with your dog curled at your feet, you’re still there to work. Getting into the mindset and separating yourself completely from your private life can help you stay on task.
In addition to having a designated space, it’s also important to surround yourself with as many work-related items as possible. Don’t allow your novels to mix with your workbooks, and keep tablets and other electronic distractions in another room. Being selective about your environment can help improve your chances of not getting distracted and staying focused.
Productive and Happy
Of course, the best trick to being productive at work is loving what you do. Luckily, research shows that working remotely can help improve the happiness of employees.
Especially in the ever-growing gig-economy — where freelancers decide what they want to do and when — workers are proving to be more productive, and have an overall better outlook on their quality of work. And in the world of remote, non-freelance employees, employee surveys have found that remote workers simply perform better because they are happier and less distracted than in the office.
The trick to staying focused then is four-fold: communicate regularly; find ways to distract yourself when you need a mental break; build a quiet space to stay on-task; and fall in love with your work and freedom to be out of the office. As long as you don’t take advantage of the opportunity, working remotely can be a well-deserved treat in our modern day.
How do you manage to stay focused while working remotely? Do you often feel overwhelmed by the amount of work waiting for you and struggle with focusing and prioritizing? Sounds like you could really benefit from one of our Time Management Workshops – no matter if you’re working remotely or in an office setting.
By Katie McBeth
Katie McBeth is a researcher hailing from Boise, ID. She enjoys reading teen novels, eating mac ‘n cheese, and seeing the world through her camera lens. Her love for reading is only trumped by her love for cats, of which she has three. She also has a dog, and he helps keep her grounded. You can follow her animal and writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth.