Practical Tips for Remote Work

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With so much of the country now working from home (or having the option), it's a great time to review the best practices for increasing productivity and well-being when performing your work remotely.

While it's easy to romanticize the idea of working from home, the truth is that many people are doing it wrong because they lack the one necessary ingredient for success: Discipline!

Even if you work for yourself, especially if you work for yourself, you must develop your discipline in order to succeed. Remember, this is Your Job! Who's going to pay your wage? Who's going to reprimand you? Who’s going to keep you productive and excited? Hint: you are.

Here are 8 very helpful practices for succeeding in the remote environment:


1. Make a Schedule and Keep It (no matter what)

While this may seem like a no-brainer, let me emphasize, No Matter What.

If you are prone to distraction and comfort like most of humanity, then this might be the hardest thing to do when you don’t have anyone keeping tabs on your progress. The lack of pressure can be a double-edged sword if it causes you to fall behind. You should set a daily and weekly schedule. This way you can look forward to those times of rest.

Break your schedule up into manageable increments until you have flexed those muscles enough to go for longer stretches!

Do not answer your phone unless it’s an emergency and have an accountability partner if you think you need that extra motivation.

2. Do Not Work Where You Rest

There are two important things to remember here

a) You don’t want to spend your whole day in the same spot

b) If you work in your bed or on your couch you might start making connections between work and rest and severely disrupt your cycle.

The second point may be the most important. Imagine laying down at night only to have your mind think that you are going to work! Talk about a relaxation buzzkill. Likewise, if you flop down on your sofa to work you may find yourself taking an unintended snooze instead.

3. Keep Your Workspace Clean

Obviously, no one wants to work in a dirty environment, however, the larger issue here is dealing with clutter. Even if the rest of your living space looks like an episode of Hoarders, if you make certain that your workspace is clutter free you will be all the better for it. Clutter is simply an unnecessary distraction. Having an item here and there for practicality or motivation is fine, but remember you are the janitor of your company as well. You need to perform a nightly clean up so that you don’t collect “things” that will steal your focus and ruin your performance.

4. A Good Chair is Your Best Friend

I will make no suggestions here because everyone has different needs. What we do have in common though is this, a good quality chair will make all the difference in your posture, comfort and ability pay attention. This is one piece of equipment you do not want to skimp on! Personally, if I don’t have good lower back support, I will pay for it within the first 30 minutes of working. And then I will waste too much time trying to stretch my muscles and suddenly I have become unproductive.

5. Separate Your Work and Home Life

This is easier said than done considering the situation, but it’s vital for long term success. No, you don’t need to build a brick wall around your desk (unless you want to). But you should have some mental barriers and boundaries with what is allowable while you’re working and what is not. This applies even to family and close friends, especially when they don’t have the experience of remote work. Many people, though well meaning, will be the source of distraction (think phone calls, unannounced visits etc.). Make sure to tell the people you love that your work comes first! If you explain that it’s no different than a traditional 9-5 (you can’t exactly leave when you want), they will likely understand and even help keep your boundaries intact.

6. Have Enough Lighting

This ties back into not working where you rest. Natural light is the best for keeping you alert and helping your brain to understand that it is daytime, and therefore, time to work. If your space makes people think “Dracula”, then you are likely training your brain to associate work with rest. If your dwelling doesn’t provide for adequate natural lighting, consider a couple of lamps with yellow light for a more natural feel and to hopefully ease some of the strain of the blue light coming from our screens.

7. Take Care of Your Eyes

If you are working primarily with computers or other screens it is important that you don’t put too much strain on your eyes. Take breaks away from all screens so you aren’t overloaded. Consider using a filter app if using a phone! If you wear glasses normally, talk with your eye doctor about the benefits of blue light resistance.

8. Keep Up Your Energy

This may seem like common sense, but you need to eat and keep hydrated. It can be all too easy to become absorbed by your work. If you do that too often and start neglecting yourself you will eventually pay for it in the way you feel. You might keep a water bottle with you and your favorite healthy snack. Take a dedicated lunch time too! After all, you are the boss.

The truth is that remote work has some major advantages and more and more people are taking that road every day, especially in our current environment. If you plan to succeed then it’s important to start off with healthy habits so you are more likely to succeed in the long run. Hit the ground running, but remember to take care of yourself. I promise your body and your work will thank you for it! Here’s to your success.

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