Tip 4: Schedule in Personal Time & Breaks
If your personal life is not well managed, you will find it difficult to get work done. Build time for meals, exercise, personal errands/appointments, and time with family and friends into your day. Remember to schedule time for:
- Workouts – Build these into your calendar and treat them like any other meeting. You will be much more productive with a healthy amount of movement in your life. Keep yourself accountable by booking your favorite workout classes for the week, lay out your weights, or train your dog to expect a jog at 3pm each day. Who can say no to puppy eyes?
- Meals – Eat a good breakfast prior to starting your workday. Grocery shop and meal plan over the weekend so you have healthy options available and don’t need to resort to take out. Make extra at dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day and utilize time-saving appliances like slow cookers.
- Personal tasks – Make a list and pick a dedicated weekly or biweekly time to breeze through paying bills, phone calls, online ordering, filling out permission slips, financial management, and scheduling appointments.
- Background tasks – If you are working from home, turn on the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, turn on the robot vacuum, or refill the water pitcher before work or during breaks to lessen your load.
- Relaxation and Socialization – Leave work at work and spend time with family and friends or doing your favorite hobbies to recharge.
Tip 5: Reduce Distractions
Working remotely comes with unique challenges. Some friends and family don’t understand that working remotely is still working and will try to call or visit with you during work hours. Set clear boundaries of when you are working and when you are available for loved ones. According to Gloria Mark, a digital distraction researcher at the University of California, Irvine, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully return to your original task after an interruption. This means a two-minute Instagram check actually steals about 25 minutes of productivity.
Fight the urge to multitask. You can’t effectively clean the kitchen and write a report at the same time. Follow your schedule and concentrate on your work knowing that you have time built in for personal and household tasks.
Secure care for children and pets. Whether you hire outside help or stagger schedules with your partner, it’s better for everyone to have dedicated childcare.
Eliminate triggers. If you tend to lose time to endless Twitter scrolling, utilize apps that limit access during work hours. If you take a long time to get back to work after phone calls, turn off your ringer and respond to messages at the end of the day.
Listen to your body. It’s much easier to focus if you’ve eaten a healthy meal and gone outside for a walk.
Adjust your background noise. If you need silence to work, consider noise cancelling headphones. Be realistic about whether you can work from home or if you need to rent an office space. Make a playlist that you work well to than you can turn on to power through tasks
Tip 6: Limit Meetings and Enforce Start and End Times
When scheduling a virtual or live meeting, ask yourself:
- Does this need to be a meeting? Don’t schedule a meeting if an email or quick phone call will suffice.
- Who really needs to attend? Keeping the participants to the bare minimum lets you get through your agenda quickly.
- What is the purpose of this meeting? Distribute a clear objective and agenda in advance so that participants can come prepared.
- How long will this meeting be? Set clear start and end times and stick to them.
When accepting a meeting invitation, ask yourself the same questions. Schedule meetings strategically – if you know a particular coworker’s meetings tend to run over and are not particularly useful, set another commitment afterwards so that you can do a hard stop at the original end time.
Be aware of fragmented time – little breaks between meetings and calls that don’t allow for more focused work. Use this time effectively by plowing through emails or taking a movement break.
Tip 7: Prioritize Accountability
When you work outside a traditional office setting, facetime with your boss and team members doesn’t happen organically. You need to make an effort to hold yourself and your reports accountable while growing good working relationships.
Make sure you are visible to your boss and coworkers. Set goals for yourself and report progress regularly. Keep track of your accomplishments to share during your annual review. Prioritize tasks your boss asks for directly so that they see you as a responsive employee. Schedule meetings strategically so that you can catch up with coworkers and stay in the loop.
If you manage a team, come up with clear guidelines collaboratively about when you are accessible to each other. This can mean a weekly team meeting, a 24-hour response rule for emails on business days, or simply everyone being available on Slack between 10am-1pm EST every day. Set goals and track progress together. Focus on work produced and not micromanaging your employees’ time.
Remote Work is Here to Stay
Love it or hate it, remote work is only going to grow in the coming years. Companies can now hire the best talent for the job without being restricted to a small geographical area. Workers can take advantage of lower cost-of-living outside big cities while working for big name companies. Small business owners can reach clients across the country with the stroke of a keyboard. Learning the crucial skills of self-management that make a good remote worker will set you up to be successful in the workforce of today – and tomorrow.