As a precaution to help slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) thousands of companies around the world are asking employees to work from home. Although this is a new experience for many, remote work has been a trend that is accelerating around the world well before the pandemic struck.
In fact, according to recent statistics, remote work has increased by over 103% since 2005 and is only continuing to grow with the rise of what financial expert Ric Edelman coins the “gig economy”. Today, approximately 50% of US workers have a job that is currently compatible with remote work and as that number continues to grow with new restrictions. So we thought it was important share tactics for staying productive, present AND positive while working from home.
Working remote requires a certain level of initiative and self-discipline that doesn’t always come naturally (whether you do it regularly or not). Check out seven habits I’ve learned from working remote for tech startups (also thanks to Tim Ferris and other virtual mentors). These habits are proven to significantly help you increase your productivity while allowing you to avoid rush hour traffic.
1. Start From Within
It’s of paramount importance that you choose work that you love that can also provide you a stable income. At the same time I’ve learned in order to perform at our highest capability we must start from within.
When speaking to Eden Mogese she stated:
“Even though it’s tempting to spend your entire day in your pjs don’t do it because the way you look can affect the way you feel and we all want to be productive and upbeat. I recommend getting up each morning and preparing as if you’re going to the office. This mentally will help change your state of mind and help you perform at your highest level.”
2. Eat the Frog
One of my favorite books that I recently read is called “Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastination”. Author Brian Tracy discusses the importance of psychological factors such as self-efficacy and how you can in essence “hack” your brain for greater drive and productivity.
The biggest take-away from this book is the importance in tackling the biggest projects in your schedule (aka “eating the frogs”) first. This tactic is psychologically/scientifically proven to boost self-efficacy, the fundamental underlying factor driving your productivity.
Each morning when I get up I follow a morning routine that consists of working out, listening to a podcast, and then identifying my top priority that must get completed that day. This allows me to gain some early wins and keep me motivated to put my best effort forward.
3. Be Regimented
Yes, it’s extremely tempting to work where you want, when you want and as much as you want, but this simply isn’t a recipe for sustainability and success, especially when it comes to what’s most important — your work/life balance.
So, take the time to plan your day the night before for maximum productivity.
Personally I use Asana to manage my personal and professional life. It helps me stay focussed on what’s important and avoid online distractions. Anisa Purbasari Horton of Fast Company also recommends batching similar tasks together and segmenting your lists based on projects, goals, and tasks. Take an approach to constantly experiment until you develop a regimen that enhances your productivity to a level you’re comfortable with.
Being regimented creates habits and prevents you from working late and/or working inconsistently throughout the day which can often give you the feeling that you’re constantly working around the clock or your work is never ending.
4. Pareto and Pomodoro
The Pareto Principle (aka the 80/20 Rule) states that for many given situations 80% of the effects are due to 20% of the causes.
In the words of the ever-popular Tim Ferriss, find out what 20% of your tasks are absolutely vital for you to do and then automate or systematize the rest. This is the key to efficiency, a smooth workflow process and a happy life where you’re not constantly being overwhelmed by menial tasks.
The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the 90’s by Francesco Cirillo and has proven effective in improving both attention span and concentration — and all you need is a timer. Think of it as like interval training for your brain.
You work for one “pomodoro” aka 25 minutes, then take a five minute break. Every four pomodoros, take a slightly longer break (in the 15-30 minute range).
5. Keep a long-term perspective
Having a long-term mentality will make all of the difference when it comes to being successful with remote work. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of not just trying to endure, but setting yourself up for success for the long haul.
Anything else is a stressful path that will quickly lead to burnout. Develop and feed the habit of choosing more for yourself and keeping a long-term lens. This mentality will make all the difference.
Learn tactics for thriving in a work from home situation. Darren Murph will help you with strategies for staying productive and connected to your team. Learn more.
6. Claim Your Workspace
Your physical environment is scientifically proven to not only influence your well-being but to “directly influence” both your work performance and productivity.
So, resist the urge to work in bed all day because then — you just spend all day in bed — which as tempting as that may sound, doesn’t promote an active and driven lifestyle.
Maybe you find you work better outside on the deck or in your kitchen with an unlimited supply of espresso at your fingertips.
Whatever the case, find your “sweet spot” and claim it. Keep it clean, keep it organized and most importantly, make sure the atmosphere you surround yourself in is a haven that promotes peace, wellness and productivity.
7. Get out & smell the flowers
Breaks are scientifically proven to “replenish the psychological costs” of working hard while improving work performance, and boosting energy. Avoid the tendency to become a hermit because when you work from home — the struggle is real.
So take a break, get out of your workspace, have a walk, do some at-home fitness or meditate. Get some fresh air in your lungs. It’s rejuvenating! This not only helps to boost productivity by giving your mind time to recuperate but it also helps manage stress and thus, maintain your well-being.
What If One Small Change Could Make Your Life Dramatically Easier?
They say the grass is always greener on the other side and the truth of the matter is that working remote can often come along with the same struggles you’re looking to eliminate by avoiding a traditional office position. So be proactive, be smart and set yourself up for success with your remote working pursuits by implementing some of these 7 tactics today. If your really looking to take your life to the next level then check out Tim Ferriss’ class, How Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers Master Productivity. I personally have Tim’s book Tools of Titan & The Four Hour Work Week which has allowed me to become a full time entrepreneur working remote, that blogs and provides inbound marketing consulting for tech startups.
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