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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 March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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