I love working from home. I follow office hours set by me. I don’t have to commute to work for two to three hours every day. I can complete more tasks because there are no random meetings or phone calls, breaking my concentration. I even take critical work with me when I go on vacation – although I highly advise against that.
To be able to work remotely is a blessing for somebody like me, who is an introvert and prefers having a productive routine day after day. And I couldn’t be more thankful for that. All I need is a reliable internet connection, and I am ready to start my day. However, remote work is not all rainbows and butterflies.
Some days, there are a million different things that vie for my attention – Twitter, kitchen cleaning, dirty laundry, family members or friends who I haven’t spoken in a while, unfinished travel itineraries (yeah, I love making plans), emailing prospective clients, boring editing work that I have been putting off since long and oh, did I mention Facebook?
The list is endless.
So, how do I manage to get all the work done productively and efficiently – 90% of the time? Find out:
1. I have a fixed working space. It is nothing fancy, but it does get me in the work mode pretty quickly and allows me to think peacefully. Writing and quietness go hand-in-hand.
2. I have set office hours – kind of. And I stick to those timings. My work schedule revolves around my best creative times.
3. I don’t start work before noon. And so I don’t pick up calls or respond to emails and Slack messages before that, and I don’t feel guilty about it. I prefer to give my mornings to managing the house and spending time with my husband. What’s the point of working from home when you can’t do that?
4. I get dressed, wear something comfortable before I open my laptop. At times, I even apply a bright shade of lipstick.
5. I somehow work better when I know the house is cleaned. I also have a fixation with clean beds.
6. I always make sure the internet connection is recharged, so that it doesn’t give me any trouble when I am in the middle of meeting a deadline!
7. I take small breaks between work and utilize them for making tea, cooking dinner, or calling up a friend!
8. I am very organized and always have everything scheduled on my Trello. (Seriously, I love Trello.) That helps me reduce the time spent on meeting a deadline or following up with people.
9. I have a love-and-hate relationship with emails. I love writing emails, but I don’t respond to emails immediately. I shut down my Gmail when I am writing. Seriously, no one’s going to come and bite me if I don’t reply promptly.
10. I sleep well. I think that’s one of the reasons why I can do many things simultaneously. I am a ball of energy most of the time. Of course, there are days when I want to have chocolate cake and watch The Mindy Project. I do that guilt-free, and it feels great!
11. I share every big or small victory of mine with my family. I love their reactions, and that’s such a mood-booster for me! I also reward myself by doing a bit of online shopping. 😉 That gives me another reason to work harder.
12. Ad-hoc tasks are workflow bugs. It took me a while, but I have learned to say “no” – not to the job but to meeting tight deadlines. If a client is okay with a delivery date that suits both of us, I am more than happy to accommodate that work.
13. I set daily, weekly, and monthly goals for myself. The exercise gives me an idea about my workload and helps me focus better.
14. I have started delegating some of my non-writing work to other people (mostly to my husband) so that I have more space for creative thinking or writing. When you have help, take it.
15. I designate specific days for certain kinds of work, and I work in batches. It helps me to work more efficiently.
16. I always know what tasks I am to pick up first. Time saved, right?
17. I never have twenty windows opened when I am researching an article. I don’t have random bookmarks or lengthy reading lists. I know some people who have some hundred tabs opened on their desktop. That’s not me. I am all about reducing web clutter.
18. I maximize my browser window when I am writing. That helps not to bother too much about finishing an article within a specific timeframe. What’s funny is I end up writing faster!
19. I hardly browse through Instagram over weekdays. I think it is a waste of time. Seriously, stay away from it. I am not scared to miss out on things. #JOMO
20. I make use of many social media management tools like Buffer and AgoraPulse to schedule posts for my clients. When I am done, I am done. I don’t need to look into it unless required.
21. I have a few friends from the same industry, and we get on monthly calls to discuss our goals, challenges, and victories. That helps us in putting things in perspective and approaching our work with more focus. I think everybody should try this out.
22. I allow specific timelines for taking on personal tasks during a workday. If I miss that window, I miss it.
23. I plan crucial deadlines a couple of days in advance of actual client deadlines. So when I sit to work on those tasks, I am less stressed.
24. I pick up the most complicated article first to write every day. If I can finish that on time, I can sail through the entire day.
25. But sometimes, I finish simpler tasks to build a flow. Whenever I do that, I am charged to take on the difficult articles head-on.
26. I am a unitasker. I take one thing at a time. People, who say with pride they are multitaskers, are stupid. No, I am not the one who calls them stupid. This study does.
27. I say NO to having a phone call with people I know are only going to waste my time and suck my energy. Jeez! If it’s that important, write me an email. 😉
28. Like every other writer, even I suffer from Writer’s Block from time to time. But the worst part is I can’t afford to stop working for even a day since I am still building my business. So whenever that happens, I usually watch something on YouTube, put on an OST I love or eat good food to put myself in a sunny spot and enter the work mode. Food. Always. Helps.
29. Sometimes I put on ambient music to pay more attention while I am my writing or researching.
30. All the essential work apps that I use are synced with my phone. That helps me look up and update on critical projects when I am not in front of my laptop.
31. I have started taking trainings, attending events, reading case studies – anything that helps me grow as a professional. It is a relatively recent development, but I have realized that by doing such things, I feel empowered to do more and better.
32. I don’t take the weekends off, which is horrible. But I feel if I work on a Sunday, the start of my week is less crazy. Even if I sit to work for an hour or two, it helps!
33. When work is getting too hectic, I take a break – head to a weekend getaway, meet family in another city or unwind at home with a bottle of wine.
34. Sometimes, I only make notes on paper when I am too tired. I don’t use my laptop to write. That triggers a different kind of creative thinking.
35. Over time I have realized that comparing myself with others has never done anything good. It made me more self-conscious about my career choices and reduced my inclination towards doing the job that was in my hands. These days, my mantra is to focus on my journey solely. Trust me – I am already doing a better job. 🙂
Find what works for you.
I am sure a few of you won’t agree with how I work. But guess what? It works for me, and that’s good enough. The key to being super productive when working from home is to find something that works for you. It may take you some time to find the most efficient way to do that, but it will happen.
I am continually optimizing my schedule, and the results are better each time. So, how do you work from home?
Rising Tide published the article here; although it is slightly different. What do you think? 🙂