Working from home or remote work can be hard. It takes self discipline to stay focused and work regular hours. Too many freelancers fail to build a successful living because of distractions and failure to do the work that matters most for their business.
After working remotely for almost five years, I’ve compiled a list of my “secrets” for staying productive while working at home. Most of these tips are not original, but put them together and you will begin to see improvements with your ability to get more done and balance your time at work, and your time at home (even though it all happens in the same place!).
Create your own space for work
First thing’s first: create a separate place in your house that is only dedicated to work. If you have the space, turn your spare bedroom into an office. If you live in a smaller place, get yourself a desk and limit yourself to working only in that place in your house.
It can be tempting to work on the couch or the dining table, but it becomes difficult to separate yourself from work when you’re relaxing on the couch with your family or having a meal at the dining table.
Dedicating a single place in your house for work allows your brain to realize when you sit down at this desk, it’s time for work. When you aren’t at your desk, it’s time to relax. This simple tip can be one of the hardest things to do consistently, but with consistency it becomes a powerful anchor for all your other habits.
Experiment with Work Away from Home
Being a remote employee doesn’t mean you have to exclusively work from home. Co-working spaces, coffee shops, libraries, and even restaurants can be great places to work.
Depending on your need for dependable internet access, working in a public place can be a helpful break from the same desk every day. Personally, I used to go to a local coffee shop to write. It helped me to be in a new location for a specific task. So anytime I needed to clear my head and write, I would head to the same coffee shop every week.
The key word is experiment. Do you like background noise or complete silence? Do you enjoy the smell of coffee or a fresh deli? Try a few places in your town and figure out what works for you.
Work Regular Hours
One of the major downfalls to working from home is the lack of accountability when it comes to a work schedule. It’s all up to you.
Whether you start work at six in the morning or two in the afternoon, it’s important that you stay consistent with your daily routine.
The human mind performs best with regular routines. Try and go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. If it helps, put your work schedule on a calendar and do your best to track how many hours you work in a week.
Take a Lunch Break
This next tip is simple, but often overlooked: Take a lunch break.
Too often people work through lunch and eat at their desks. It’s time to take back your lunch break. Go for a walk, watch one episode of your favorite TV show, read a good book, spend time with your family, take a power nap or make yourself a nutritious meal!
Taking thirty minutes to an hour in the middle of the day helps your brain recharge and prepare for the second half of your day. Keep that time sacred as best you can.
Use Your Lack of Commute Time to Good Use
Morning routines have become a popular topic for entrepreneurs. As a remote employee, you have the opportunity to leverage the time others spend driving to an office to take care of yourself and better prepare for the day ahead.
A powerful morning routine can include eating, meditating/praying, exercising, reading, and journaling. A morning routine could last five minutes or two hours. Again, it comes down to what works for you and how much time you want to give yourself.
If you’re used to commuting to work, try going on a couple errands first thing in the morning. This is a great mind trick for getting dressed, going out of the house and arriving at your “office”.
Take the Weekends Off
My last “secret” for working from home is to take the weekends off. It’s easy to keep working when your office never closes (physically), which is why setting work hours can help with avoiding work on the weekends.
If you feel like you have to work over the weekend, I would encourage you to evaluate your expectations and efficiency during the week. Working from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a life, and the weekend is a great time to be normal.
Shut down your computer and get yourself outside. Try new things, start a hobby, or join a club: whatever it takes to separate yourself from work when Friday afternoon is over and before Monday morning begins.
Just like taking a lunch break, the weekend is a longer amount of time for your brain to rest and recharge every week so you are ready for the next week ahead.
These are just a few “secrets” to help become a successful remote employee. It comes down to creating your own work space, experimenting with work away from home, keeping consistent work hours, taking a lunch break, leveraging your mornings for success and taking the weekends off.
Do you have any tips for remote employees? Let me know in the comments. Love the post? Share it with your friends on one of the networks below!