Working remotely

A stickler for rules and rigidity, it’s no surprise that only 2 out of 6 of my past roles are considered as the typical “9 to 5” jobs.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt that I thrive best when I am given the flexibility and autonomy to do things my way. And as you may already know, this is not always the case when one is working in a corporate job.

So, years ago, I decided to leave my demanding agency (office) job. Since then, I have been (mostly) working out of the office and I absolutely love it.

I know that I’m certainly not alone in this. With offices closed due to the pandemic, many are ‘forced’ to work from home and realized that they were able to maintain (if not) increase their efficiency & productivity.

It comes to no surprise that on a recent survey done by Inc Magazine, most respondents would rather quit their job than to lose their remote-work flexibility.

As David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of the Ruby on Rails (an open-source software) & successful entrepreneur eloquently said, “Once someone has experienced the lifestyle benefits of working remotely, they’re highly unlikely to pick another cubicle job.”

Are you seriously considering on making (hybrid or full-time) remote-work your long term plan? Here are some useful tips that’ll help you maintain high levels of productivity & efficiency for the long haul:

1. Set Deadlines & Work around them 

set deadlines

As ironic as it may seem, one of the biggest challenges most people face when it comes to working remotely is that they essentially became their own ‘boss’.

Sure, if you still have a boss or a supervisor you report to there’ll be emails and calls here and there to remind you of your deadlines but for the most part, when working remotely, you are ultimately the only person responsible for making sure that your tasks and responsibility are carried out in a timely manner.

While  it’s true that we often can’t quite pin our days to stick to the schedule we’ve set for ourselves (because things seem to have a knack of changing unexpectedly).

When you make a point to set deadlines and allocate your time accordingly, you will much less likely to waste time as you have a clear plan as to how your working day will and should play out.

2. Minimize Distractions 

Minimize distractions

As I mentioned before, one of the best things about working remotely is that we can do our job practically anywhere we want.

Though there are some exceptions, for the most part, as long as I have my lap top, a stable wifi network and my notebook, I am set.

That said, whether I’m working from my home-office, a cafe, by the pool or a beach, I always do my best to minimize distraction. Usually, I am able to do this by blocking time – usually a couple hours a time – to focus it on solely work.

This means wherever I plan to work that day, I would let those who will be around me not to disrupt me during those set hours.

When I’m in a public place such a cafe where I am bound to be surrounded by (noisy) strangers, I found that simply putting on my (noise-cancelling) head phones and listen to music keeps me focused and keep the distractions at bay.

3. Limit Use of Social Media 

Limit social media use

Unless your job involves time spent on social media, it’s crucial to limit the frequency and length of time that you check on social media accounts throughout the day.

In my past (remote jobs), I found that assigning exact time and duration for social media check-ups helps me to limit the time that I spend on them.

It’s always tempting to cheat and check on social media outside of the time you’ve allocated so during your work hours, it’s helpful to keep your cell phone away from your sight but close enough for you to be able to easily reach for it should it ring (in case of urgent/ emergency calls).

4. Designate Breaks Throughout Day

Take breaks

It may sound silly to some, but when working remotely, some people have a tendency to over work themselves.

Unlike in an office setting where we are triggered to take our breaks (lunch break, coffee break etc.) by our colleagues or when the clock strikes a certain time when we are working on our own, we need to rely on ourselves to do so.

Giving yourself short breaks in between tasks is crucialas it helps you to refresh your mind and to give you a burst of relaxation.

Think of these breaks as well deserved little rewards to keep you motivated.

These breaks though brief can help you to build mental endurance over a period of time and help you accomplish that long to do list of yours with greater ease.

Whether you choose to spend it to take a 10-minute brisk walk outside, to indulge in a delicious snack or to give a quick call to our loved ones – it helps to give yourself the ability to step away from all that you have to get done to maintain a productivity momentum throughout the day.

5. Connect with Your Team Often

Connect with team members

Though not all remote jobs involve working with other people, if you happen to have colleagues who are in the same boat as you are, do reach out and make that extra effort to connect.

Many people I’ve talked to who have remote jobs are hesitant to reach out to their team members because they feel as if they are a “bother” when they do. More often than not though, your team members would gladly welcome the “distraction”.

Reach out and connect with your colleagues as it can add significant value to your working relationships.

Putting that extra effort to get to know your team members, build rapport and help each other out enables you to establish a professional friendship that makes the team as a whole work more effectively and efficiently.

In this kind of culture, you feel more invested in your job because your teammates will act as a community where everyone “has each other’s backs.”

Final Thoughts

There you have it. While they are simple, the above tips have personally helped me to “master” the art of working remotely & fully embrace the digital nomad/ remote-work way of life.

I hope they’ll prove to be as useful for you as it was for me and help you thrive as you work outs of the office!