After the pandemic, many of use have found ourselves working remotely - something that most of our parents and grandparents could have never imagined (and some still don’t fully understand it probably 😆).
Because remote working is such a new thing, there is not really a rule book on how to get the most out of your working day and stay productive. We are all responsible adults - but we are still human. And from time to time, we need a little guidance to help us to feel motivated to get our work done.
I want to share with you a few things you can do to boost your productivity and get down to work, so that you can achieve success on a monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly basis while working remotely. With the knowledge and methods in this blog, you can say goodbye to inconsistent bursts of motivation, and hello to setting yourself up for success when it comes to being productive while working remotely. So let's jump in!
Work in an appropriate setting
So, now that you’ve found yourself working remotely (living the dream)... the question is, where should you work? Being truly free can sometimes feel like you’ve been dropped in the middle of the ocean, and you’re free to swim wherever you like. The freedom is great, but it can also feel a little overwhelming. Let’s avoid that feeling and give you some options to make you more productive!
Let's start small; get a desk! A desk is vital aspect when it comes to productivity. It gives you the sense that you've started work and that you’re ‘at’ work. So if you’re working from home, be sure to get yourself a proper desk setup. Try to avoid working from your bed as tempting as it may sound, and the couch and any area that you might have to have your laptop on your lap (ironically). 😆
True remote working allows you to work from anywhere, not just home. Cafes can be excellent spaces to work in, assuming the internet connection is good. Also make sure it isn’t too crowded and loud as this can hinder productivity and concentration. Co-working spaces might be a better option as far as productivity goes as these spaces are specifically designed for remote workers like yourself. These spaces are fitted with desks and good WiFi - and some will serve food and drinks; what more could you possibly want? Of course, unless you’re in a big city, they can be hard to come by. But there are still other locations you can work from effectively.
If you are on the move a lot or traveling, a good way to stay productive on the road is to pick hotels or an Airbnb with a good internet connection and a space suitable for working, preferably with a desk. You might have the benefit of being able to work from a beach bar now and again - which is great, and you should definitely take advantage of that! But the truth is it’s not as easy as it looks, and there will be times where you will really feel the benefit of a dedicated work space.
Consistency is key
When it comes to working remotely, you may have noticed that there's no one standing over your shoulder, telling you what to do. If you’re a freelancer, contractor, or own your own business, you may not have any real solid connection to a manager figure at all. A good move to keep your productivity up would be to set goals that you can consistently hit on a daily and weekly basis.
Aim for what you would like to achieve for the day. Or perhaps even break it down a little further… Why not aim for what you would like to achieve before your first break? Setting goals like this gives you small targets to hit so you can keep on top of your workload or even get well ahead of it. Aim to achieve similar goals every day so you can hit them consistently, and remember, every goal hit is a small reward for your mind. This will help you keep productivity levels up and help you stay motivated to continue to do your best work.
Make a routine that suits you
What do your days look like? Let routine regulate your reality. The reality is you need to get the work done, right? So you need a system that you can repeat to help you stay grounded and keep your life organized. The chances are you didn't start working remotely, you more than likely started your working life commuting to your place of work, am I right? When it comes to remote working, too many people fall into the habit of waking up just before their working day starts and logging on and diving straight into their work. Everybody who’s ever done this knows it’s not an ideal way to start the day and say to others “I need a better routine”. So implement that routine!
Let's start with waking up in the morning. Try waking up at the same time every day and give yourself some time before you start work. Have a tea or coffee if that's your thing, and get dressed. From here you can now plan your tasks out for the day, any breaks you might want to take, and when you should finish work. Sticking to a rough schedule each day will help you to feel in control of your life, and enjoy a good work/life balance.
And let’s not forget a big one: giving yourself a bed time. Having a time you go to bed at and sticking to it is an amazing way to boost your sleep quality. Sleep is the time where your brain and body do the vast majority of healing. It’s also the time when lessons you have learned through the day are embedded in your brain as memory and knowledge. This means you could work more efficiently and effectively through the day, hitting goals faster, allowing you to work smarter therefore making you more productive.
As well as sleep, you should also add some exercise into your daily routine. A really good and underappreciated way of keeping your work week smooth and productive is by adding in some time for light exercise. Many people fall into the habit of becoming sedentary while remote working, after all you have everything right where you are - no need to move or go anywhere else, right? Wrong! Keeping active is so important, not just for your physical health but for your mental health, and will help you to work more effectively!
An option for those who don't like attending gyms (like me 🙈) would be to go for a walk either before or after work (both if you can manage it). Going for a walk before work will help you build up to your working day, and going after your working day will help you wind down. For example, I like to go on long walks at the beach with Mirah (and Miguel of course) after a long day behind the screen. Check out on how to create a healthy work-life balance when you work remotely for more information on this.
A good method of keeping your routine in check is time blocking. This involves splitting your day into bite sized chunks so that you know exactly what you’re supposed to be working on at all hours of the day. Imagine all your weekly tasks laid out in front of you on a table. So figure out how long it takes you to do Task A and block out your calendar from 10am till 12pm, for example. Maybe Task B only takes 30 mins but it’s due by the end of the day, you might want to block this in at 9am or 9:30am to get the task out of the way.
Having all of your daily tasks laid out on a calendar pulls your to-do list out of your brain, and onto a visual aid to help you better see what your day looks like. This will help you plan your time wisely so you can remain productive throughout the day and make sure you never forget a task.
So we’ve had a conversation about what your day could look like. We’ve had a look at what your hours could be like. Now let's dive even deeper, inside your hours and talk about how you could maximize the productivity of every working hour of your day. The Pomodoro technique encourages people to look at time differently, rather than the conventional method of working against time (we’ve all been there). The Pomodoro technique wants you to work with the time you have. This method breaks your working day into 25 minute chunks followed by a 5 minute break. This short break allows you to give your eyes a break from the screen and your work, giving you time to reset and have a think about how you plan to approach your next task or the next section of your work. Although I don’t think it’s necessary to use this method every working day, it’s great for when you’re working on a project and have a deadline you need to hit!
So there you are working away, knowing your phone is only a few centimeters out of reach. One small lapse of your mind and 15 mins have been lost to scrolling through Instagram, TikTok, and talking to your friends. We’re all guilty of it, so there's no need to deny it 😅. But how can you eliminate distractions from your phone? The best thing to do would be to place your phone on ‘do not disturb’ while you are working to ensure the notifications don't come through.
If you use your phone for work communications e.g. WhatsApp, or Slack, use the desktop version. This way you’ll be less likely to fall prey to your algorithms on social media platforms and give the time to them that you need for work. If you are communicating through your laptop and can also take calls through your laptop, you could do the unthinkable and go a step further and place your phone in a different room 😮.
You might not need to go as far as this, you know what’s best for you and you know what you’re like so there's no need to punish yourself needlessly if you have enough self control over the algorithm scroll. But limiting the amount of time you spend on other devices while working will without a doubt give you more time which you can use to be more productive.
As well as digital distractions, you should remove any physical distractions from your space. Keeping your work area neat and tidy is also a must. No letters on the side that you have not yet opened, or any rubbish hanging around just out of sight, calling you to clean it up. If possible, use a spare room that is out of the way of your main living space if working from home. This way you know that when you enter this room, it's time for work with zero distractions and when you leave the room, you know it's time for the rest of your day. For more information on this topic, check out our "take control of your procrastination" blog.
Productivity is a practice
Remember, productivity is something you have to practice! You will have your less efficient days and lapses in concentration. But don't be too hard on yourself, part of learning how to be productive is to learn how to get back into your routine, how to get back into your best habits and how to pick up where you left off. This is also a skill you can use in other areas of your life to be more productive in your hobbies and interests too and remember. Not only should you practice productivity, productivity is a practice!
Until next time guys,