How to Work Remotely and Get Things Done

Have you ever dreamed about abandoning your full-time job? I bet you have, and it’s no wonder why. Just imagine that you don’t need to spend hours commuting, report to your boss, follow corporate rules and dress codes, and work nine-to-five. Tempting, isn’t it?

Once in a while, everybody thinks that you don’t need to be a part of something big to become someone; and, it’s only natural that becoming a freelancer who works whenever and wherever he wants pops up in mind. You’re tempted by having more freedom and bearing responsibility for your own actions. You have all the opportunity to choose, and the whole world is open to you. No wonder remote work has become increasingly popular in the last couple of decades.

You don’t need to be a part of something big to become someone.

The advancement of technologies, such as Internet, mobile devices and apps, propelled a radical shift in the way we work. It’s not about going to the office every morning. Moreover, now you can work not only from home but also from any place on the planet where you can find a decent Wi-Fi connection. You can start working on a project in San Francisco and finish it in Paris in several weeks. You can push hard on the project today but scuba dive with your friends tomorrow.

A new generation of digital nomads is here already. They want to work hard and are always ready to walk the extra mile for what they do, but they also possess a sense of entitlement that their lives belong to them, not to their jobs or bosses. Maybe, in several decades office jobs will become obsolete. Who knows?!

Digital nomads possess a sense of entitlement that their lives belong to them, not to their jobs or bosses.

Remote work has a number of advantages over full-time job, yet disadvantages are also in abundance. If you choose to work remotely, you take full responsibility for your actions, including finding appropriate projects, living up to customers’ expectations in terms of timeframe and quality, setting up your schedule, planning tasks, and dealing with procrastination.

It’s much harder than it seems. Free life is full of distractions, and you should be a disciplined person to work away from office environment but still get things done. You have social networks, YouTube, tons of content, videos and interesting stuff but no one to control and oversee you.

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to work from home (or any other place) and be productive and efficient. Here are some basic tips to get things done when working remotely.

Set Up Your Office Space

Most remote workers prefer telecommuting from home for a reason. While traveling and working all around the world may seem romantic, it’s hardly productive. If you want to excel at what you do, be ready to create a cozy office at home.

Traveling and working all around the world may seem romantic, but it’s hardly productive.

Your home office should be equipped with the following:

  1. A stable Internet connection. There won’t be any telecommuting without a proper Internet connection. Ensure you pay your Internet provider enough to keep it fast and stable.
  2. Ergonomic furniture and devices. Freelance jobs are time-consuming. It’s very likely that you’ll work longer hours than in the office. That’s why, your chair, table, mouse, and keyboard must be convenient. If you don’t want to sit all day long, buy a standing desk.
  3. Skype. It’s the most important piece of software for you, your connection with colleagues and clients all over the globe. Top up your SkypeOut account to make calls on mobile phones. Also, don’t forget to buy a headset for better call quality.
  4. Electric kettle with water. Have some basic stuff like tea, coffee, and snacks at hand. Frequent visits to the kitchen to drink or eat will distract you.

Note: Your office should be your place, quiet and convenient. No one should interrupt or distract you when you work, think or just have some quality time alone.

Also, don’t forget that your office is a place to work, not rest. Don’t buy a couch unless you want your clients seated on it. While it seems natural that all freelancers work lying on the couch, you won’t get anything done that way.

Work lying on the couch? You won’t get anything done that way!

Eliminate Noise and Distractions

Productive work is impossible unless you concentrate all your thoughts on it. Yet, it’s very hard to keep focus when you have lots of stuff to do like reading the latest news or watching funny videos on YouTube. There’s only one solution — block everything you can.

Block everything to reduce cognitive load.

Reduce the noise by installing AdBlock to block pop-up install ads, temporarily block social networks, news websites and, basically, all websites and services that distract you. By doing it, you’ll reduce cognitive load and save more focus power for important tasks.

Save Important Information

Your focus and willpower are your most important assets when you work remotely, yet staying updated is also crucial. To balance it, change the way you handle valuable info: save it, not click it.

Focus and willpower are your most important assets.

Here’s an example: It’s Wednesday, 10 am — you’re working hard on a new project, when a notification pops up on your phone. You get the phone and see that someone shared quite an exciting article with you. What should you do? Read the article? No! Just save it and read it when you have time. For instance, when you finish the current task.

Anyway, when you find something of interest on the Web, save it for further reading or watching. You can use Pocket or any other similar app. It’ll help you organize information, better analyze it when you have free slots of time, and stay focused when you need to work.

Use Timeboxing to Stay Focused

When you’re in the office, it seems that you work all the time — when you drink coffee, go to the bathroom or chit-chat with a colleague. It happens naturally because not a single person can work eight hours a day without interruptions — we need time to recover our focus muscles.

Timeboxing helps keep focus on important tasks. Basically, it’s based on a famous Pomodoro technique: 25 minutes of focus+ 5 minutes of rest; 10–15 minutes of rest after three pomodoros. This way you’re concentrated when you need to but give your focus, concentration and willpower some time to recuperate. It’s easy and natural.

We need time to recover our focus muscles.

Figure out how many pomodoros you need to complete this or that task when planning your day, and then stick to it. Avoid any distractions when your pomodoro is on, take a walk or drink a cup of coffee during your five rest minutes.

You can use an ordinary kitchen timer or a service called Moosti to track your pomodoros.

Eat Your Frog Early in the Morning

Reducing cognitive load and recuperating focus and willpower with pomodoros help a lot but don’t guarantee success. The thing is, focus and willpower get depleted during the day — they’re at maximum in the morning and at minimum in the evening. That is why, you need to solve the most important and complex problems first thing in the morning.

Focus and willpower are at max in the morning.

Most people start their working day checking and answering emails, reading corporate chats, setting up tasks for the day — but it’s totally wrong. They spend precious focus and willpower on easy-to-do tasks and then find it unbearable to work on bigger, more demanding tasks.

If it’s absolutely important to you to check email in the morning, do it but don’t write answers (unless it’s a matter of life and death). You can answer all emails and messages after you eat your frog.

Plan Your Day

Scheduling is a natural thing no matter what you do — work, travel, rest, and even sleep. Yet, if you work remotely, your planning routine should be very precise. Jotting down a list of tasks on a small piece of paper won’t help you much here. Basically, you need to spend more time planning your time.

The important thing here is, plan your day from the evening. This way you give your subconsciousness time to process ‘uploaded’ problems. Also, you push in more tasks in your schedule in the evening rather than in the morning. The reason for that is obvious: you’ve already completed your tasks for today in the evening, yet in the morning you face tasks just in front of you and subconsciously reduce the burden.

Spend more time planning your time.

Also, evening is the best time to review your short-term and long-term goals. You can read the list of your goals before going to bed to focus on their completion.

Collect Feedback

Working remotely isn’t about having any colleagues or clients. You’ll need to keep in touch and communicate with people, as well as be aware of what they think about your performance. It’s easy to accomplish by staying online and collecting feedback.

It’s not about being courteous, but productivity and focus. If you collect feedback, you know what your clients and colleagues expect from you, what the most important objectives are, what to concentrate on and what to improve.

You should know what your clients and colleagues expect from you.

Without collecting and giving feedback, you’ll somewhat work for yourself only, and it’s bad. Don’t work in silos — keep in touch and stay aligned with objectives to improve processes and learn quickly.

Keep Learning

Everyone needs to learn something new every day. So, don’t even try to create some kind of a non-penetrable bubble around you. You may work on different projects that force you using new technologies and instruments on a daily basis, but it’s not enough.

When it comes to learning, it’s never enough.

Plan what you’d like to learn, find books, videos and webinars on the topic, and go on. Basically, it may be anything of interest to you, not necessarily about your job. Not sure what to learn? Check out Coursera and choose from world’s best courses, online.

Build Positive Habits

Quality of our lives depends on what positive and negative habits we have. Focus on building positive habits and getting rid of negative ones. It’s absolutely crucial if your work remotely and aren’t ‘boss-protected’ from procrastination, laziness, and lack of focus.

Some of the positive habits to develop:

  1. Take off your pajamas. If you start working in your pajamas, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be concentrated and focused on important things. Your PJs act like a psychological anchor that signals it’s time to rest and sleep, not work hard.
  2. Get out of the house. Don’t become a home-attached slave who works day and night without going out and giving yourself some free time. Go out with friends, go to the movies and concerts, relax emotionally and physically. It safeguards you from burning out in several months.
  3. Exercise. Sitting is worse than smoking, and; that’s why, carve out some time to take care of your body. Go jogging in the park or around the block, hit a local gym or visit a swimming pool. Exercise is important to keep you going and staying healthy both mentally and physically.
  4. Read. Reading is the best habit ever. It helps you learn something new every day and stimulates your brain and memory. Get a habit of summarizing important things you’ve read. It’ll train your focus, improve memory, and enhance mental ability.
  5. Meditate. Meditation is what everybody needs in a world flooded by information. Stop and clean your mind for at least 5–10 minutes daily, and you’ll notice that you become less stressed and more focused. Meditation is also great for recouping willpower losses.
  6. Have time to think. Don’t become an overstressed maniac who tries to do everything at once. Be calm and focused on what’s important but always leave some quality time to think. Just take a stroll in the park or along the beach and think about your life and your goals. Don’t act but stay calm for at least an hour every day.

Bottom Line

If you want to work remotely but are afraid that it’ll reduce your productivity, don’t worry — most people work more productively at home than in the office. Also, you have a whole bunch of tips and tools to fight distractions and procrastination.

To work from home, you should have enough willpower to get you going. Yet, if you’re on the track to your dream, it won’t be a problem at all. Ensure you work and rest enough, and it’ll suffice.

Don’t learn how to get things done the hard way. Follow some basic tips above and it’ll be enough to guarantee that your clients are satisfied and your projects are rolled out on time.