I’ve been working remotely for the past nearly 5 years. I have a home office, I have a local cafe, I get terrific amounts of work done and I’m far more productive than when I worked in an office day in and day out. Sorry, Marissa Mayer, I get more done outside of an office. Here are my 3 golden rules for telecommuting success.
Work in blocks of time
Take your day and break it up into chunks of time. Spend a few minutes every morning (or afternoon if you’re a Night Owl like Aaron Levie) to map out your day. Give yourself reasonable amounts of time for each task with some breathing room between tasks. Give yourself space to check your email and to read industry articles. Know that you don’t need to be productive with every second of your day, you need to be super-productive with your productive time.
I like to structure my days around 1 major task and three or four smaller tasks. I can focus and work on one task for an extended period of time, usually 2 hours around 10am to noon and another two hours from about 2pm-4pm. I can then get the smaller tasks done during the other times.
In structuring weeks, I just list the items that I’d like to get done, then I map those into my daily routines. I try not to be too forward looking in my tasks because at a certain point, my crystal ball simply cannot factor in all of the potential changes that tend to occur.
Get out of your house
Cafes and coffee shops are sometimes awful to work from, but seriously, get out of your house. If you spend all of your time in isolation, you’ll eventually go stir crazy. It’s fine to unplug and take your laptop to a park on occasion, it’s a great place to get writing work done. If you’ve got your day mapped out, you know when you can turn off the internet, get some sunlight and write. Search out other places that you can work from, you may be surprised at some of the local places where you can get great wifi and great food.
“You time” is sacred
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that all home time is work. Work time has a tendency to encroach on your personal time when you’re a remote worker, don’t let it. For me, Saturday and Sunday are off limits unless I have to travel. I don’t do any work, I try not to respond to email, weekends are my personal time. Nights I’m somewhat more lenient with because I have the flexibility to take some mornings and make them personal time. When I had stricter working hours, my nights too, were off limits beyond 6pm. You need to make sure you’re taking the time to do things that you enjoy, otherwise, why work?