Remote work has its fair share of benefits. Along with that, of course, are a few disadvantages. These vary in degree, but the fact of the matter is, they’re real and it isn’t always easy to overcome them.
Remote workers get to work from home (or anywhere, really!), but we also run into problems just like we do at the office. The worse part is—especially now, during the pandemic—is we’re all stuck at home. Alone with our thoughts, we’re greatly more prone to overthinking, feeling overwhelmed, and ultimately procrastinating.
This is why we wrote this easy, stress-free guide, containing tips to work from home more effectively (without pulling all your hair out). We also have a longer, more extensive list, which you can find here.
Set strict boundaries
This is the most crucial thing. If you haven’t set strict boundaries yet—both with yourself and your work—you should. Without a cubicle to hunker over and a boss to breathe over your neck, it’s far too easy to blur your work life with your life-life.
Make sure you’re one hundred percent clear on your boundaries. Until what time of day will you accommodate work emails? What is the actual scope of your job, and are you evaluating if your tasks are aligned with said scope? These are crucial questions that are crucial to answer.
Learn to say “no”
The power of “no” is immutable. Nothing feels better than the ability to say no when you’re unable to do a certain task. This is especially true for remote teams, where employers don’t have a clearer picture of your workload. So, if you’re swamped with work and don’t have the bandwidth, don’t be afraid to say no.
Saying no to your boss is scary, I get it. But there are ways you can say it professionally, like pointing out that you’re currently working on something, and you’ll have to deprioritize that current task to attend to this new one. Give context to the situation; if your boss is one of the good ones, they don’t have a reason not to understand.
Condition yourself for work
The thing about working in pajamas is you never really feel like working. You’d rather just sink deep into your bed and sleep for the rest of the day.
So, make sure to shower, brush your hair back, and slip into something more work-appropriate. This will give your mind that extra push to get into work mode. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to look your best in Zoom meetings!
Optimize your workspace
Because you don’t have an office table, you’ll need to figure out your home office desk on your own. However, one thing that you should absolutely do is ascertain that your workspace is optimized for productivity. Declutter, hide all pesky wires, have a pen and pad at the ready—the shebang. Do this, and you’re likely going to become more productive.
Organize your brain
Working remotely means you’ll need to take note of events, messages, and more. Having a central “digital brain” is important. This is why tools like Notion, Evernote, and Obsidian are gaining such popularity.
For this, I recommend you keep things simple. You can easily go down a nasty rabbit hole of over-organizing. Whip out your favorite note-taking app (or even your trusty notebook!) and organize the information you need to collect, processes you should remember, and outcomes you need to accomplish.
Prioritize your tasks
Prioritizing your tasks is going to help you get things done. When you determine which tasks are more important than others, your work is going to have greater impact.
There are several ways to do this, from following methods like GTD to straight-up sorting them on your notebook. Once you have them listed out, figure out which ones are most urgent, the easiest to finish, and take the least time to accomplish. From there, you can work your way down your list without worrying anything will slip by.
As you can imagine, communication is paramount in working remotely. With this, you’ll want to be as effective as you can on comms with your team.
Use direct but polite language, update your messenger status, and always acknowledge new information. It also helps to have a central app that your team can use to store updates and information. That can literally be a spreadsheet, but more sophisticated apps like Basecamp, Asana, and Monday.com are great too!
Use the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro Technique has been around for years, but it’s only now that more people are taking advantage of it. The idea is to do 25 minutes of “focused work” and taking 5-minute breaks in between. This gives your brain enough push-and-pull and keeps it focused. My favorite tool for this is Pomodone.
Pair it with a soundtrack that gets you in the mood for work, and you’re all good for the day. Good luck!