Get More Done – 18 Tips for Telecommuters
Working from home is a dream for some. For others it’s a hellish nightmare. And it is not uncommon but once they start doing it the group of the first type joins the group of the second type.
Once you try to get some things done while at home you will understand how difficult it could be. First, you’re not even prepared for it. Your bed is not your desk. Your home is not your office. You are used to slacking when at home. And then all of a sudden you can’t even turn on your TV.
You might not even have a desk. Or a comfortable chair. Or noise canceling earphones.
Just when you thought you finally got some discipline into your routine, now you have to deal with your family. When you are at home, that’s family time. Isn’t it? How about your neighbors?
At some point you will end up hating it. And there is no turning back. It is very difficult to go back once you have start working from home. You have probably invested a lot to find an employer who would allow you that convenience.
You need to improve your routine. And you need to find a way to adjust to your new lifestyle. It’s just growing pains.
Read this article to the end in order to learn how to manage better.
1. TASK MANAGEMENT
Freelancers and workers from home often have a hard time balancing between planning and executing. Between doing too little because of slacking or doing too much because of overthinking and perfectionism. Have a list of what constitutes ‘work done’.
Take your list seriously. Start every day with a clear idea what you want to do every day. It will give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. If you work from home it is easy to get interrupted, to get confused or distracted. A good plan in advance will always show you if you have accomplished enough.
Make sure your goals are clearly defined. How? Learn about what is expected of you. What does your immediate leader expect from you? How much do the other team members plan for their day.
A study from Stanford University researched what difference working from home made for employees and employers at a Chinese travel agency. Randomly, several workers were selected to be taken out of the office and be given work from home. After nine months they showed 13% improvement in performance.
The workers selected to be telecommuters also stated that their satisfaction with the job increased. It is important to remember those workers had a different payment system. They were paid more for more work done, instead of receiving a steady salary for merely staying at the office. Therefore it is expected for their motivation to work to be heightened.
Still, when work is better goal-oriented workers do tend to feel better about their accomplishments. Not every job is possible to switch to telework. A doctor or a dentist is tied to their workplace. It is crucial We have very clearly defined performance metrics.”
2. MAKE TECHNOLOGY YOU FRIEND
Communication is key. And technology help you communicate to your office. It can virtually to take you there. Here are several essential apps or programs that you need in order to get more things done:
- You need the cloud. Helpful applications such as Google drive, iCloud or Dropbox we’ll keep all your files intact an organized. Most cloud applications we’ll provide you with the backups if you mess up. You will be able to share your files with your teammates and archive them for future use.
- You need a shared calendar. Your team and your boss need to know when you are available for work, for meetings, and when you are on vacation. You will be amazed how much valuable information is lost because of your absence at the water cooler.
- You need an Instant Messenger. Try using Slack or Skype. And if you want a lot with an customers why are not even the Facebook messenger – or the messenger of another social media.
- You need a task manager. Meistertask or Asana are good free options. Track the time that it takes you to work on the particular project.
3. HAVE A ROUTINE
If you work at the office, you will get up in the morning in a particular time. You will brush your hair, you will brush your teeth, you will dress up, maybe you will even put some makeup on. Or some cologne?
Try to preserve as much from your routine as possible while working at home. Of course, you cannot stick to the exact same schedule for the day. For example, you will not be stuck in traffic for an hour to the office and back. And you will not get the chance to listen to your favorite radio for that time.
Think about it like that – it’s a new routine, and not the lack of one. What you could do, for example, is to take a longer break. Longer than usual. Or, something else, for example, could be to put off your working hours. Are you not a morning person? Try starting work from 11 a.m. Instead of 9 AM.
Then finish two hours later.
Remember, you’re already saving time by not being stuck in traffic. All that’s important is, that you work on equal amount of hours every day, unless of course, you get an uneven work load through the week.
4. WORK TIME, KIDS!
Talk to your friends and family. Don’t let them overtake your work time. It could be difficult to speak to your children about this. They are used to the fact that your presence at home means you can give them your time. Discuss signs they could use to know that is not family time.
You can dress in a particular way, or put the picture upside down. You can have a sign on your door saying ‘dad is working right now’, or, ‘mommy is doing homework’.
They used to think that you are not available when you are not home. Now they will know you are not available when the sign is up.
You will be amazed that’s speaking to your older relatives and friends could be even harder. Try telling your spouse that you don’t have time for them. Or your mom. For The advice we have here is to be persistent. At some point they will have to learn of That your productivity is important for you and your family.
5. RED LINES FOR YOUR FAMILY
Make sure you set some boundaries for the family members. Your working hours should be clear to them the same way they should be clear for your team members. Don’t leave any space for ambiguities.
If you have family obligations make sure you meet your daily goals. If those family obligations are regular, make sure you arrange your daily schedule according to the event that you have to attend. For example, if you have to take your kids to and from day care or school, make sure you compensate for the lost hours later if you have to. If the time you miss for your kids does not affect too much your productivity, you don’t need to compensate for that at all.
The rest of your family members must be aware of all of the responsibilities that you’re willing to take and the ones that you cannot. Do not allow any of your family members or friends to think you have all the time in the world just because you spend a lot of it at home, working.
Make it perfectly clear when it is okay have surprise guests and when it is not. Most importantly, be strict about the time of day when you absolutely cannot be disturbed.
Watch this funny video of a financial analyst talking to the BBC when he’s hilariously interrupted by his kids and his wife entering the room, and unwillingly showing up on live TV.
6. GET THE FEELING
It could be difficult to get to the maximum productivity zone. That feeling that you get once you are all set on your desk at the office, sipping on the large cup of American coffee, sitting on your perfect office chair, with the armrests adjusted to that perfect height, allowing you to look at your screen at the perfect angle. The zone.
If you have to get to the zone of maximum concentration and focus and you find it difficult, try going to a coffee shop. Order your favorite coffee and try to cancel out on the noise by the power of absolute and total productivity control.
Sometimes you will find a little background noise actually helps you concentrate better. You will find that it inspires you, it breaks your routine, and it brings up your maximum creativity.
Alternatively, think about working from a co-working space. More often than not, those will have a great atmosphere, a reliable Internet connection, and they will be free of old distractions.
7. OFFICE, NOT A HOME
If you’re expecting to do the same amount of work from your bed as you do from your office, that is not really feasible. Research tells us that we think of our bedroom has a place to rest and relax, to have beautiful dreams, and even some fun.
If you’re committed to working from your home long term, you want to make sure that you invest in making your home your office. Adapt a room from your apartment if you can afford that.
Get a nice chair, nice desk, and why not a white board and the core board for your little Post-it notes. Color the walls a color that inspires you. Get yourself some gear. A nice laptop, a tablet, earphones with a good mic, or a web camera with the fisheye.
Invest in a good Internet provider with a reliable connection. Make sure your SLA stipulates that you will be compensated for prolonged periods of time without Internet.
You need to ensure that all necessary tools to do your job smoothly and to contact your coworkers are at your disposal at all times.
8. WORK TIME, PLAY TIME
Plan your working hours well:
- Give yourself a total minimum and maximum of working hours for the week and for the month.
- Make a calendar.
- Print them out.
- Post them on your door. In your emails. On your Facebook.
- Indicate them via voicemail.
9. NOBODY’S HOME
Act as if you’re not at home. Forget about answering your home phone or door while you are working. You would not be able to do that while at the office, why would to do that now?
Let’s say you have an Amazon delivery. Your doorbell rings, you open the door, have a chit chat session with the delivery person. Then you get to open your shipment, and it’s the wrong item. You need to go back to your computer and figure out how to get a replacement.
It sounds like a very impossible situation, but it happens way more often than you think – random encounters during the day distract you and eat up too much of the time you can spend working.
10. BUSY TIMES
Don’t attend to appointments during working hours, that have nothing to do with your business. Forget about booking doctors’ appointments, dentist appointments, or massages during your business hours. Not to mention fixing your car or grocery shopping. No, no, no, no and no.
11. PERSONAL TIME WITH TEAM MEMBERS
Make sure you pay some personal attention to your co-workers. Fit in a small talk here and there during your business meetings. Maintain close friendships. Never forget birthdays, anniversaries and important rite of passage moments for your friends at work. Missing the water cooler talk is more important than you think.
Why not even visit the office every now and then. Whenever you have the chance, make sure you have brain storming sessions with your colleagues about matters of importance.
Do not allow yourself to work in isolation. Your office interactions are happening thanks to technology – instant messenger, email, or Google hangouts. That does not mean you cannot be building a significant amount of human interaction in your work day.
Maintaining friendships with your coworkers is not just good for your business. It is good for your soul.
Try going out for a lunch or a coffee date with a friend. Why not even take a gym class together.
12. VIDEO CHAT
There are multiple tools that will allow you to have face to face meetings with your remote coworkers:
- Use Google+ Hangouts.
- Skype for Business
You should regularly meet face to face with coworkers even if you work remotely from the office, or if you are all separated by distance. Video gives you a connection you cannot achieve texting or emailing.
Google+ is particularly cool. With it you can meet as many as 10 people simultaneously for free, and you don’t need to have a paid subscription for your video chat. That makes it the better alternative to Skype and other messengers.
Make sure you are regular in your talks to your manager and teammates. And do those over video whenever you can. Distance and text can lead to miscommunication more often than video does.
Update them regularly on what you have been up to. Make sure you are the organized one. Plan all of your meetings, send out reminders, and follow up on your agreements. Use your shared calendars and shared task manager to keep track. Never forget to write down a to do list after every meeting. It’s a good idea to keep track of personal notes as well.
Did you learn about an upcoming party at the office? Did you learned that someone had their birthday? You can fold on personal matters on your next meeting as well. It will make a great impression and it will make your coworkers feel that you are still part of the team regardless of the fact you only work there remotely.
13. ENJOY LONGER BREAKS
Working from home does not just create problems. You have earned some flexibility for yourself. Is your focus going away? Is your productivity elusive? Is it possible that you have become disenchanted with working from home?
Give yourself a break. Working from home does have its conveniences. Yes, the majority of our advice in this article circles around the notion that you should act as if you are in the office even though you’re working from home.
However, all work no play will make you a very dull unproductive worker. You might get into a burnout.
Do something crazy. Schedule have yourself a large break in the middle of the day. Go to spa treatment. Go to massage. Take your dog out. Make yourself a smoothie. Take a walk. Go to the zoo. Turn on the TV. Take a nap. Why don’t you go as far as scheduling a nap into your calendar.
Anything you have to do to have your creative juices come back.
Once you have achieved some discipline, reward yourself. Don’t go crazy, look make sure you enjoy working from home the way that you thought you would originally.
It is not only negativity. It can also bring you a lot of positivity. A lot of freedoms. Spend more time with your kids. Spend more time with your pets. Spend more time with your significant other. Work from the beach, or from the pool, from the park, or from the snowy mountain.
All you need to do is to make sure your productivity levels stay high. Everything else is a side note. Do not allow your relatives your coworkers or your family to treat you differently from any person working from an office. Make them respect you.
14. RELEASE CONTROL
You can come to a happy place where you enjoy your disruptions. Once you get your productivity to where it has to be, you will enjoy some interruptions from your friends, your pets, your family, or your neighbors.
They will bring diversity into your working day. Think of it like that: you will always have that annoying coworker at the office. At home you have your cat. They’re quite similar. They’re always hungry. They are too loud. They’re clumsy, too fat, too lazy, and they hate you. But they still bother you. Embrace them and get on with your work.
15. STAY AWAY FROM THE FRIDGE
Here is a handy tip: make sure you stay fit. Limited human interaction can do the dirty when you come up on the scale. You will discover your think less about the way you look, and you’re way closer to the fridge for your own comfort.
Stay away from the kitchen. Stay away from the fridge. Many workers from home discovered they’re constantly snacking when they’re under pressure, because of the proximity the junk food in the cupboard, or just because no one will see them as they’re making.
Don’t become a statistic. Find a way to keep the pounds off. Instead of munching on crisps, or other junk food, or don’t you do a couple squats, push-ups, or sit ups? They release endorphins and you will discover fight of stress better than you think.
Don’t forget to invest in equipment. Start with a noise-cancelling headset. It will do miracles for your focus and for your communication during your video or chat calls.
Arrange a beautiful background for your video calls. Get a white board, a couple of plants, and maybe your ‘employee of the year cup’.
Invest in an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. Go for a great Wi-Fi router. Pay a handyman to fix the mess your multiple cables are creating in your home.
A handy docking station can save your life.
17. YOU ARE NO DIFFERENT
Several times a day, check in with co-workers and the boss. If you have an easy and non-disruptive way of doing it, say Hello when you start your shift, and Goodbye, when you finish it. You will leave a great impression. Don’t aim for punctuality, but for honesty.
Try to keep things the same as if you were physically at the office.
18. STAY ON THE TOP OF YOUR BUDGET
Here is how:
- Always go for the free or inexpensive option when it comes to communication technology, task managers, video chat, etc.
- Make a good distinction between your working and non-working expenses.
- Make sure your working expenses are well covered and proportionate to your income.
Telecommuting is a perfect opportunity for people who can handle it. You need to be focused, well organized, and with a strict routine.
You need to get your family on board.
Set up some boundaries for yourself and your close ones.
For the large part, you should pretend to be at the office – with your behavior, and with your communication to team members.
Whatever you do, avoid burning out. Find a way to enjoy telecommuting as best as you can.
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