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The Ultimate Guide To Working From Home And Still GTD

The Ultimate Guide To Working From Home And Still GTD

You hate the commute, you get distracted by co-workers, and you think the solution is working from home.

After all, you’ll have more control over your space and you’ve heard people are more productive. This should make it pretty easy to get your boss’s okay to work from home, right?

Not necessarily. Some bosses aren’t comfortable with the idea because they know that remote work can be beneficial, but that it can also quickly go off the rails. They need to trust that you’re organized and driven enough to make it work.

Get Your Boss To Let You Work From Home

Before you need to worry about getting stuff done while working remotely, you need to first get permission. There are four proven techniques you can use to get your boss’s approval on your remote work request:

1. Get The Right Job

First, not every job can be done remotely. Some places have high security demands that can’t be met remotely or require specialized equipment that’s just not economical to provide to remote employees.

If you don’t face these kinds of requirements one of the best ways to make sure you have a job that is remote-friendly is to find one that can be measured by results and not hours – results are easier for managers to track when they are dealing with remote workers.

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2. Prove You Have Communication Skills

Being a remote worker means you have to go to extra lengths to stay in touch with your teammates and managers. A lot of communication will happen and lines can get easily crossed. If you can prove you are an effective communicator, you’ll have an easier time getting the okay.

3. Convince Your Boss To Give You A Trial Run

Not too many people will be willing to let you jump from spending 100 percent of your time in the office to spending it all remotely – there are going to be a few baby steps in between. The best way to prove you can handle remote work is to get permission to do it on special occasions – like sickness or bad weather – and really kick butt when you get the chance.

Don’t just wait for those special circumstances to prove that you can work from home, though. If you’re like most people, you probably already do work at home – maybe early in the morning when you’re answering some emails or in the evening when you’re finishing off that pitch. Take these opportunities to do great work and subtly let people know you did it at home.

4. Sell Your Boss On The Idea

When you ask your boss for permission to become a remote worker, it’s no different than any other pitch or presentation you’ve ever delivered. Know how it’s going to benefit your boss and the company and make those benefits stand out more than how much you’ll like it. You should also think about what reasons your boss could say no or what concerns they’ll likely raise – have answers ready for those, too.

If you nail your pitch, you’ll be working remotely.

Be Mentally Prepared

So, you’re pitch went well and now it’s time to work from home. You wanted this and worked hard to get it because you thought you would be happier, more productive, and it would put you more in control.

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That’s not always the case and working from home can be tough on your head for the following four reasons:

1. There Are More Interruptions At Home

Working from home gets you away from your co-workers, but places you squarely around your family and in the middle of what can be a pretty chaotic environment; an environment with new people and new demands.

2. There’s Tremendous Pressure To Perform

Remote workers often feel even greater pressure working from home than do their in-office peers. They feel more pressure because they are afraid their colleagues are judging them as “lazy” or “do nothing” because they work from home.

3. The Temptations Are Numerous And Indulgence Is Easier

Playing hooky in the office is much harder than doing so as a remote worker. If you’re having a bad day it can be really easy to skip out on work, sit on your step, and have a beer. You need to know that hard days as a remote worker can be harder than those as an office worker because pushing forward at home is much harder.

4. There’s A Greater Need To Be Organized

When you work at an office, you have others buzzing around you and you might even have deadlines posted in public places. This doesn’t happen in a remote office. You need to have yourself together and organized because people don’t do it as much for you when you’re a remote worker.

Sometimes being a remote worker isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and you need to be ready for that. If you’re not, you can have your spirits crushed. If you’re having a bad day, reach out to your teammates and chat, but, most importantly, remember that it’s just one day and tomorrow will be better.

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Working at home alone will only bum you out if you let it.

Setting Up Your Workspace

As a remote worker, being mentally prepared is only part of the battle.

A lot of people think that kitchen and coffee tables can double as workspaces, but they are way off the mark. In fact, they’re are almost guaranteed to fail. Instead of sitting in your kitchen or living room, here are some things you can do to set up a workspace and be physically prepared for remote work.

First, and I can’t stress how important this is, you need a dedicated workspace. It needs to be quiet and removed from the chaos of kids’ toys and meal-making. If there’s an extra bedroom, use that. If you don’t have an extra room, search around for a quiet corner of a room that isn’t used throughout the day and take it over.

Once you have your spot picked out, you need to start to fill it in and treat it like your office: get a dedicated chair and desk, and make sure you have the best internet connection you can get your hands on.

Though it can be tempting to lock yourself in your home office, that’s a bad idea. You’ve taken this step to have more control and see your loved ones a bit more. Don’t back away from that. Instead, learn to set boundaries with other people in your home, while still taking the opportunity to enjoy their company – it will refresh your mind and keep you more productive.

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How To Keep In Touch

One of the most surprising things is that studies show remote workers are more productive than those in the office. Know why? It’s because those people in the office assume you’re working less than they are and they dial back their productivity.

Do the team a favor and make sure you’re keeping them up-to-date with your progress:

  • Don’t become invisible. Carry on small talk on chat apps and stay in regular contact.

  • Let people know when you’re stepping away. Blast out a “Taking lunch,” or “Taking a break,” message in your team’s chatroom.

  • Hold progress chats. These updates give you a chance to talk about what you’re working on today and what you worked on yesterday. They also help you share what goals you completed and it proves you’re getting stuff done.

Working from home is great if you’re prepared for it. If you’re not prepared, it can really be a blow and a setback for your career. These tips will help you work from home while still getting stuff done.

What tips do you have to help remote workers stay as productive as possible? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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