Remote work means the freedom to work from anywhere but with that freedom comes responsibility. You need to ensure that you stay productive and that you are communicating your level of productivity appropriately so that you can keep your remote job.
The good news is that it’s fairly simple to ensure remote work productivity. In fact, we’ve got 8 superb tips that you can put into use to make sure that you stay productive and valuable to your employer even if you’re a digital nomad based overseas.
Decide On A Routine
I know this sounds like your mom or your boss nagging at you. You’ve just got your freedom and now somebody wants you to make that into a routine? Well, if you want to succeed, sadly, it’s the best way forward.
My routine involves getting up bright and early and starting work straight away. I know that the later in the day it gets – the more my productivity drags. I can write 7,000 words before lunchtime but I’m lucky if I can write 2,000 in the afternoon. It’s a huge difference.
You may want to get up, have coffee, take a shower, and then throw yourself into work. You may prefer to get up, go for a run, have a shower and work. You may prefer to get up, watch TV for 3 hours and then do your work. Whatever works best for you, works for you. But by developing a work routine – it’s easiest to stick to it and not slink off to do something that isn’t work.
Set Yourself A Schedule
A schedule does not need to be a straitjacket but it’s a sort of informal commitment to the hours you’re going to put in on the job. At the moment, I’m kind of rebuilding my business and that means long hours at the coalface – 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week.
I can’t keep that going forever, mind you, but I can until my cash flow returns. Once it does, I’ll be scheduling in time for client work and for my entrepreneurial work too. I’ll be cutting down a little on the hours then and in a year or so when I feel more secure, I aim to be back to roughly 8-9 hours a day for 5 days a week.
Yes, work even remote work, is still work.
A schedule helps you plan when to do the work and when to go and have fun. It’s essential not just to being productive but also for building barriers to keep a work-life balance.
Learn To Prioritize
This is old school, but work is either important or it’s not and it’s either urgent or it’s not.
Work that is urgent and important is what you should be working on whenever it’s in your pile of things to get done.
If the work is urgent and unimportant – the ideal thing to do is pass it to somebody else, delegate if you can. If not, it comes in just behind the important work. You have to get it done.
If work is important but not urgent, find a space in your schedule for it and allocate that time.
If work is neither urgent nor important – you probably want to stop doing it unless something changes.
We’d recommend that you keep a public calendar online with your schedule marked clearly on it and that you share that calendar with all your colleagues and your boss.
This will help you take responsibility for the work you do and hold you accountable for it too. Don’t forget to build in a little “wiggle room” – this is supposed to be a system that serves you not one that enslaves you.
Cut Out Distractions
Talk your housemates and partner – explain that when you’re working, you’re not to be disturbed unless the house is burning down or in the case of a similar emergency. Try and do your work in a quiet place away from everyone else.
Keep pets outside the door. Feel free to switch off your smartphone. That kind of thing. The more distractions that you eliminate the easier it becomes to do the work you have to get done.
This sounds obvious but we’ve found that this may be the worst problem facing remote workers – it’s not a lack of motivation or organization, it’s getting distracted easily that kills their productivity.
Buy Comfortable, Quality Equipment
You cannot seriously work as a remote writer, for example, on a smartphone. You cannot really work on an 11” touchscreen either. At least, not for long. We all make do in emergencies.
You have to buy the tools of your trade that support productive working. I carry a 17” laptop around and while some of the reasons for that is I enjoy PC gaming in my spare time – most of the reason is that it makes writing easy. I use one half of the screen for research and one for writing on. This saves on switching back and forth all day long.
I have an external mouse and mouse mat because using a mouse pad is fine in theory but in practice, it sucks.
I’d buy a better chair and a standing desk too if I had a permanent home but I don’t so I do the best I can.
Use The Best Software For The Job
You can hate on Microsoft all you like but their office suite is light years ahead of Google’s offering. If you work in office applications all day, every day – it’s worth paying to use software that helps to facilitate your work. “Free” isn’t free if it costs you 30 minutes of your time every day.
Same for photographers and videographers – GIMP (an open-source and free Photoshop competitor) may be fine for working on your family snaps but if you’re not investing in Adobe, DaVinci, CaptureOne, etc. then you are barking mad.
You also want to talk to your remote employers and see what remote collaboration tools can bring to the party. The more effective the tools, the less time spent on admin.
Create A Workspace
We mentioned this briefly, earlier on, but it bears repeating. You’re going to work better if you have a place to work which is yours to work in. Don’t work in your bedroom all day – find somewhere comfortable and conducive to work which doesn’t infringe on your most personal space.
I work best from a desk. I don’t much care where it is, mind you, as long as it’s not next to my bed. Working on the sofa is not a good idea.
Take Care Of Yourself
Our final remote work productivity tip is a simple one: you have to take care of yourself that means:
- Get some exercise on a regular basis. I like to go for a 20-30 minute walk twice a day at the moment because I have no access to a pool. When I have a pool, I swim for 45 minutes a day instead. You don’t have to become a fitness fanatic but you must keep moving.
- Eat more healthily. Set aside time to cook and prepare meals from scratch. Get the right calorific intake and as few preservatives and additives as possible. It will make you feel good about working.
- Get some sleep. I love a mid-day nap and I try to ensure I get at least 8 hours sleep at night too. So should you. Sleep plays a huge factor in our mental and physical wellbeing, time spent sleeping is not time wasted (as I once foolishly believed).
Staying productive, while working remotely, means taking charge of your own situation and ensuring that you’ve laid the ground for a distraction-free, comfortable working environment where you put in enough time and effort to get the job done. Smart remote workers also care for themselves because they know, you can’t work when you’re sick or your health is failing.