Work in the US has changed forever, and many of us are ready to welcome that change. As we speak, over 4.7 million workers in the US work remotely at least part-time, and that number is expected to rise.
However, working remotely isn't an easy transition for everyone. Like with any new trend, there comes a learning curve. Let's talk about some helpful tips for working remotely and staying productive.
Benefits of Remote Work
Before discussing how to get the most out of your remote work, it's important to acknowledge and remain mindful of all of the benefits of working remotely. When you reach a difficult point in your work, it's good to remind yourself of why you do what you do. Here are a few key examples.
People who work remotely typically have a greater work-life balance. This is because they can typically choose their own schedules or get their work done when it makes the most sense for them. Studies show that workers value work-life balance even more than higher salaries!
Also, there are a lot of other aspects of an in-person job that eat up your time. Barring any Zoom meetings, you don't need to spend hours every morning getting ready and making yourself presentable. You just need to go into another room and start your work.
This time adds up, and it can allow you to pursue whatever it is you enjoy outside of work. You may get outside more, exercise more, or enjoy more of your hobbies with your extra free time!
While this isn't always the case, studies show that people who work remotely 100% of the time earn more money than those who don't on average. If you work in a field that's remote-friendly, consider putting those skills to use!
Even if you're an employee, you won't have a manager standing over your shoulder as a remote employee. You may have more autonomy over your schedule when you take breaks, and so much more. This alone is enough of a benefit for thousands of freelance workers who choose this style of work over the benefits of traditional employment!
Another time-saver is the lack of commuting, which is a blessing in itself. If you live on the East or West Coast in the US, then you're probably used to long commutes with brutal rush hours. This could easily save you an hour and a half or more each day, which adds up to 7.5 hours each week or 30 hours each month!
Also, that's not to mention the money you save on fuel, especially with gas prices projected to hit $6 a gallon by August. Remote work can save you plenty of money on your morning coffee, eating out, and fuel just by staying at home!
Challenges With Remote Work
With all things in life, there is a give and take. Nothing comes without a cost. One of the biggest challenges with remote work is your work-from-home productivity, which can easily dwindle.
For freelancers and business owners, this can directly impact your income. As an employee, not feeling too productive isn't a big deal for your bottom line. However, if your productivity dwindles one day as a freelancer, it can screw up your income for the entire week.
Another challenge is isolation. If you're used to working around coworkers and customers, it can be very different working at home for long periods of time, especially if you're staying home after work.
Finally, nobody is immune to distractions, and there's nowhere more filled with distractions than your home. Fortunately, there are ways to address and remedy these issues with remote work. Let's talk about some of them.
9 Tips for Working Remotely
Now that you know some of the pros and cons of working remotely, it's time to learn how to make the most of your time working from home. Let's talk about how to stay productive while working remotely!
1. Take Breaks
While this may sound counter-productive, it's at the top of the list for a reason. Taking breaks throughout the day is essential, especially for freelancers who are trying to reach a certain quota. If you try to get it all done right away, you're likely to burn yourself out.
The idea of getting done with work by 2 pm is very appealing, but it might be unsustainable. Taking 10-minute or 20-minute breaks periodically and ending your day at 4 is much better for your mental health and sustaining your levels of productivity.
2. Designate a Work Space
If you work on your living room couch right in front of your television, that's bad for two reasons. First, you are likely to feel distracted when you're trying to be productive. Second, it will be harder to relax when it's time to do so.
For that reason, there really is no benefit to working from your leisure space other than comfort, so do your best to make your workspace more comfortable. Switching to a softer chair, bringing comfortable furniture over, or using a standing desk could help you. Try different options and see what works best for you.
A designated workspace free from distractions will help you stay in a productive mindset throughout the day. Try to keep everything you need in one space, including your laptop/phone chargers, office supplies, and more. It's good to get up and move occasionally, but don't let it interfere with your productivity.
3. Eliminate Distractions
In your workspace, try your best to keep distractions away. It's good to take breaks occasionally, but distractions can quickly hinder productivity.
Unfortunately, most of us carry our biggest distraction in our pockets and often rely on it for work. If you have trouble with your mobile phone as a distraction, then there are plenty of ways to limit these distractions.
For example, you can try using a grey-scale filter on your phone during work hours. This will allow you to use your phone for work purposes but not go overboard with games or videos. You can also try:
- Keeping your phone on silent
- Keeping your phone in a drawer or purse
- Adding a screen time alert or limit
- Deleting apps that cause distractions
The list goes on. It can take a lot of willpower to actively choose not to use your phone, so keeping it out of sight and limiting its addictiveness is helpful. From there, try to reduce the number of tabs on your computer and avoid scrolling through social media or anything else.
4. Set an Office Schedule
Whether you're a freelancer, business owner, or employee, try to set a strict working schedule. Routines are very beneficial for our mental health, so try to establish a routine as best as you can. Try waking up at a consistent time, starting work at the same time, and finishing up at the same time.
If you have the freedom to stop working when your work is done, then set a goal for yourself, but don't stress yourself out. For example, if you start at 7 am, you may have a goal to finish by 2 pm and go enjoy some time outside while the sun is out. If you don't finish until 3:30, who cares?
Let your clients, employers, or employees know about your intended schedule and tell them to schedule meetings during your office hours if possible.
5. Get Up Earlier
Studies show that most successful people (by any definition) are up at around 5 am. The earlier you wake up, the more time you have to focus on tasks while everyone else is sleeping. Also, the more time you have to wake up before everyone else.
Many people prefer a slow morning, and that's great! If you're one of those people, try waking up earlier, sipping on your coffee, and starting your day how you like it. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to starting your morning, so find what works for you.
Exercising, reading, stretching, or practicing a hobby is a great way to start an early morning and prepare yourself for the day. If there's a part of work that you enjoy doing the most, start your day by taking your time with it! Just remember to try avoiding phones, games, television, and other mind-numbing activities first thing in the morning.
6. Have the Right Systems
Do you find that you're wasting too much of your time on tedious tasks? Whether you're running a large agency or freelancing business, having the right systems in place can help increase productivity dramatically. Documentation assistance, accounting software, and more can help you focus on what you need to work on and possibly shorten your work day!
7. Try to Foster Community
If you're in a management role or part of a team in any way, attempting to foster community among coworkers is very good for morale and productivity. Try reaching out to your team or coworkers and scheduling regular meetings, and try to make time for more informal conversations. A lot of human connection can be lost through email and Zoom calls, even though we all need a lot of it in our daily lives.
8. Prep Your Meals
Cooking every meal takes a lot of time out of our day. If you want to finish work early or stay on-task during office hours, then it's best to prepare your meals ahead of time. Cooking healthy meals is important, but prepping them ahead of time makes the most sense for remote workers, as you can always heat them up however you like!
For healthy grab-and-go meals, try prepping overnight oats, salads, sandwiches, or whatever you'd like. Then, you can eat them cold and not waste any time!
If you prefer hot, home-cooked meals, try prepping soups, rice bowls, or whatever you enjoy and heating them up. These types of meals are quick and easy to heat up in the microwave or on the stove, allowing you to get back to work as quickly as possible. For some of us, that means leaving as early as possible!
9. Practice Self-Care
While this may seem out of place on this list, we assure you that it isn't. The biggest killer of motivation and productivity is often our mental state.
Depression, anxiety, stress, and more can kill our working habits, which can then worsen our mental health conditions. This is a negative feedback loop that many remote workers find themselves trapped in. For that reason, proper self-care is essential.
Changing your scenery every once in a while is a good idea. Working at your local cafe or public area can help you get out of the house and reduce "cabin fever." It may also help you talk to people face to face.
Whether you're a solo freelancer or part of a large company, you probably feel as if you're lacking social interaction, even if you have Zoom calls every day. Make sure you plan plenty of social activities throughout the week to avoid excessive isolation.
From there, practice mindfulness, exercise, eat a healthy diet and take care of yourself. Do things you enjoy outside of work and don't stay in the house for too long. Especially during the summer, plan on getting outside at least once a day!
Enjoy Working Remotely and Staying Productive
Now that you have some tips for working remotely put them to use as soon as possible. Working remotely does not have to be full of sacrifices. It can be a major improvement for work-life balance, mental health, and more, as long as we follow the right steps.
Stay up to date with our latest tips for your business or work life, and feel free to contact us with any questions!