If you work from home, go on business trips often, or is often unsupervised, remote working will be a common challenge for you. This article highlights ways to reduce distractions and to stay focused, which are especially difficult when you do not have a boss monitoring you. Consider the recommendations below to get the most out of the days in which you are out of office.
Avoid peak hours
Some companies allow you to work wherever you want (remote working) and whenever you desire(flexible work schedule) so long as a set of deliverables are completed by a due date. This means that you can avoid the peak hour crowds and save time on transport, queues, and a multitude of other things! You can even save money by skipping the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) when you are commuting, and opt for off-peak lunch deals which tend to be more affordable.
Find your own peak hour
If you are not a morning person, perhaps starting work later around lunchtime will be more productive. Some also prefer to do work after an early morning exercise or workout. If the food coma hits you strong, you can afford to take a quick nap before continuing with work. Are you someone who works better in sprints? Perhaps you are highly productive when you avoid multi-tasking, and can complete an assignment with minimal errors within a shorter period of time. If so, dedicate yourself to a specific task before taking a break to recharge. Perhaps you are someone who needs a detailed hour-by-hour schedule as opposed to a general to do list. Do whatever floats your boat. Remember to close all distracting non-work-related tabs such as social media.
Up your energy levels
Unlike working in an office, you do not have a set lunch time, or a set knock off time. As such, your work should be designed with your energy levels in mind as opposed to time. Unlike time, which is a constant, you can up your energy levels by establishing some rituals. For instance, a 15 minute walk around the neighbourhood can be a great way to recharge. This is a benefit that you can tap on given that you do not have to answer to your boss or colleagues for every minute spent out of the office. While it can be difficult to not get distracted, try your best to stick to your mini breaks.
Find your team’s peak productivity
With the growing number of remote workers, there is a likelihood of you working with them, or becoming one yourself. This can be extra challenging if you have members sprinkled over the globe since it is difficult to pinpoint a ‘golden hour’ for everyone to facilitate meetings and discussions. As such, it is important to come up with a table of everyone’s preferred schedule, which should be listed in order of priority.
Chat with your team
The fact is that people work well with colleagues they like. Be sure to squeeze in some private communication on top of the work-related ones. Find out their hobby, and what they did over the weekend. This intimate interaction is a key step towards achieving a well-connected and bonded remote working team.
Make your quiet time known
It can seem counterintuitive to let others know about your quiet time when you want to increase productivity levels and be more effective. Surely, you need to be on standby 24/7, right? Contrary to that belief, getting quiet time is a great form of work life balance that can make you more focused and productive when working. This is relatively easier to achieve in an office environment as you can put on headphones or close your door. However, in a remote working environment, it can be sorely difficult. As such, it is helpful to make it known to your team when you would not want to be disturbed. Protect your time and adjust communications accordingly.
Have standard procedures
This serves as a guideline that both you and your team can refer to to keep everyone in check and to minimise unnecessary back and forth. By removing road blocks, the entire team can be more productive as a whole. By having processes for quality check, documentation, and workflow, the whole team can keep each other accountable through the set of protocols.
Start with the worst
Inertia to start work can be strong. However, if you commence the day with the most difficult task, everything else that follow will be comparatively easy. Getting it out of the way can also lighten up the mood as you need not dread a difficult task throughout the day, and end up procrastinating. Sit tight, take a deep breath, and clear that assignment!
Invest in work materials
When working remotely, you are giving up on a lot of things that office workers take for granted. For instance, having simple stationeries, having a good desk, high internet speeds, and ensuring that your laptop is of good quality is typically not budgeted for for remote workers such as freelancers or contract workers. If your computer consistently hangs at crucial moments, or if you are having backaches every day from your home chair, it may be time to consider investing in better alternatives.
A messy desk can be very uninviting. It further increases your unwillingness to start work as you need to put all the papers and stationery aside before being able to commence. As such, always keep your desk neat and tidy. Minimally, make one day in the week a declutter day.
Check if you have the right job
Job satisfaction has everything to do with how happy you feel about the job on a day to day basis. While salary, bonuses, and other benefits are also important, it is equally paramount to ask yourself if the job scope is aligned with your personal interests. This can affect your productivity and concentration levels by leaps and bounds. Having lesser stress also results in an improved overall performance.
Working remotely is intimidating, especially when you are first starting out. The newfound freedom may trigger inefficiency, especially when you lack strong self-discipline or require help from others. Follow some of the recommendations above to better manage yourself and your team. With practice, remote working will be a flexible alternative that releases you from the chains of office working.
(By Vanessa Ng)
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