Working from home, setting your own hours, answering calls in your pyjamas. It sounds like the dream job to some. But, the reality can be, well, a little less ideal.
From the loss of the office social scene to the inevitable drawbacks that come with a lack of structure, working remotely can drive you a little crazy if you don’t have a plan. Staying productive is key.
It’s a topic several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on this week. Here is what two of them had to say.
Justin Seeley, author at Lynda.com
Seeley made the transition from a regular day job to remote working for the first time in the last year — and it wasn’t easy, he wrote in his post How to Work From Home Without Going Crazy.
“The transition was tough and full of mistakes, but now that I’m settled in, I think I’ve figured out to survive in the remote employment world,” he wrote. Among his eight big ideas and tips:
For starters, in addition to the new work environment, Seeley moved two time zones away from his colleagues, which presented its own time management challenges. “The problem I had… was that I would attempt to not only work my full day at home, but also cover the additional hours… so that I was accessible to my co-workers,” he wrote. “This isn't sustainable, so eventually I had to just come to terms with the fact that if I was going to work alongside my colleagues, I had to alter my schedule.”
He also instituted a “clock-out” time to separate home from work. “This enabled me to completely shut down for the day and detach myself from work,” Seeley wrote. It’s something he used to achieve by leaving the office and driving home.
Another must: a dedicated workspace. “Don't just try to do your work while lying in bed or sitting on the couch,” he wrote. “Find a quiet spot in your house that you can work from, set it up as a work-only environment, and make sure that it's use exclusively for that. Remember, you don't have a commute anymore, so you have to trick your brain into thinking the short walk from your bedroom to your desk is the same thing. By quarantining this area off and using it exclusively for work you're telling your brain that it's time to get stuff done.”
And as for hopes of working in your pyjamas all day? Ditch them, Seeley wrote: “treat every day as if I'm going to the office now. I shower, shave, and dress just the way I would if I weren't working remotely. You'd be amazed at how normal this will make you feel and how much of a sense of purpose it creates in your mind.”
Staying connected is also important. “Human interaction is something that we crave on an unconscious level, and not addressing that need can have a seriously adverse effect on your new at-home lifestyle,” Seeley wrote. Hold regular meetings with your colleagues, both planned and impromptu.
“Make sure that you get down to business in these meetings, but put in a little time for casual conversation as well,” he wrote. “Communication and face time is probably the most important thing about remote work. Without it you're pretty much guaranteed to fail. If video conferencing isn't an option for you, just use a good, old-fashioned phone call.”
Lisa Chilvers, director at Athena Business Solutions
“Sunday. A day of rest… It’s a great day to take things easy, relax, catch up with friends and generally do nothing in particular,” wrote Chilvers in her post Why Sunday Could be Your Most Productive Day. Or maybe not. “Half an hour of your time today could make next week one of the most productive ever.”
“Too often we sit down on a Monday morning and think ‘Right, what shall I do today?’ and then spend the next half an hour or so dithering over what to do first,” she wrote. “So by the time we actually start being productive, the morning [is] almost over. Then we get up on Tuesday and start the same process all over again.”
To avoid this productivity-sapping cycle, Chilvers suggests using Sunday — or the day before your workweek starts — more wisely. “Why not spend half an hour or so this evening planning your week?,” she wrote.
First, she wrote, go over the appointments you have set up and allocate time before them to prepare for these meetings. Then, pencil-in some time to “deal with the routine… like email, social media, etc.,” she wrote. She suggested that once all this work has been timetabled you review how much time is left over each day and plan what you’re going to do with it.
By planning out your time before the week starts, “you’ll manage to end every day on a high when you look at your list and realise you’ve done everything you set out to,” she wrote.