Working from home has its perks: you can build your own schedule, work at your own pace and enjoy the kind of flexibility that only comes with being self-supervised. However, working from home requires discipline and focus if you want to remain productive and find success. You’ll need to have excellent time management skills to complete your work before it’s due.
Many people fantasize about working from home, but aren’t used to working outside of a structured environment. As such, they run the risk of becoming distracted or procrastinating in their newly found spare time, and never manage to complete a task. Fortunately, it’s easy to establish routines that will keep you on track. Here’s how:
Remote Work Basics: Productivity 101
Set Your Hours Wisely
There are a few things that every person working from home should know before they start. The first is to set business hours for yourself. They don’t have to be conventional, but they should be consistent so that you establish a productive routine. You don’t want to find yourself with only a few hours of daylight left and an entire day’s worth of tasks to finish.
Of course, some people choose to work evenings instead so that they can keep their days free, which can be useful if you’re raising a family or other commitments that keep you busy. However, you’ll want to make sure you still budget the same amount of time for your work so that you can complete it comfortably without losing sleep.
Create a Work Space
You’ll also want to establish a dedicated work space. Doing so can train you out of procrastination when you sit down at your desk (or table, or corner of your living room). Your mind will come to associate that area with work, helping you remain focused. It is recommended that you declare this area off-limits to roommates and family, so that you can always keep it organized and avoid being interrupted.
Different Kinds of Remote Work
Some people work from home as sole proprietors or single entrepreneurs who are responsible for every aspect of their business. Others work in remote teams, required to complete specific tasks that fit into a larger group effort. These roles come with slightly different advantages and challenges. Do you wear multiple hats, or do you have an organization relying on you to complete specific milestones so that they can coordinate large-scale projects?
The “Two-Minute Rule” For Entrepreneurs
For single entrepreneurs, the key is not to be overwhelmed by the number and variety of different tasks you must complete. Trying to do everything at once can be more than intimidating—it can actually paralyze you and prevent you from doing much of anything.
To whittle down your to-do list early on, consider following “the two-minute rule”. Anytime you have a task ahead of you that would take less than two minutes to complete, do it right away. Most entrepreneurs are surprised to discover how many of their tasks are actually simple matters they can easily clear from their slates. Moreover, they’re often able to approach the larger items on their list with fewer distractions and more confidence afterward, which improves their overall productivity significantly.
The “Two-Minute” Rule for Remote Teams
People who work on teams can make use of the two minute rule as well, but since they often have a clearly defined role they may find themselves with few smaller “one-off” projects to complete.
Instead of pushing yourself to power through and work until you’ve finished everything, consider structuring regular breaks into your workday. There’s scientific evidence that taking a short break once an hour can actually help you maintain higher levels of performance while you’re working. Go ahead and watch that YouTube video your friends are sharing, or check your personal email for a few minutes. Better yet, get up from your desk and do something to get blood pumping through your body. Sitting down for long periods of time is terrible for you physically, and—surprise, surprise—it makes you less productive, too.
Time Management Tools for Any Remote Worker
Learning a few skills to help you stay focused can be extremely useful, but time management isn’t all about changing your habits. You can save many precious minutes simply by choosing software that helps you streamline and organize your work.
Project management tools like Basecamp and Trello have been popular choices for entrepreneurs in the past, but many such older programs are limited in functionality. For example, a single freelance writer might find Basecamp’s calendar feature useful for setting milestones with specific deadlines, but a team of editors could find the lack of real-time editing challenging. Meanwhile, Trello offers real-time updates but lacks a calendar feature entirely.
The Gryffin App is one such tool that is all-encompassing for productivity, originally created for in-house use by a small but versatile media company involved in both SEO and digital marketing. Incorporating a calendar, taskbar, and notification system into a surprisingly clean user interface and allowing for multiple permissions settings, the app lets administrators, clients, and team members collaborate in real-time from a centralized digital hub. It also provides seamless email integration and extensions for SEO, editorial calendars, and more. It’s just one example of how project management tools are evolving to become increasingly flexible and powerful in the Digital Age—but it’s a quintessential one.
Working from home offers freedom, but total freedom can leave anybody unsure of what to do next. Make sure you always have a clear path ahead of you by creating some structure in your routine and environment. Once you’ve built some solid habits for yourself, consider investing in a project management tool that can make sure you never forget or neglect a task. You might just find that you get more done from home than you ever did in an office!