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How to Work Remotely and Stay Productive and Focused

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How to Work Remotely and Stay Productive and Focused

With unpredictable pandemics like COVID-19, many people are finding it difficult to get out and go to work, build an income, and provide for a family. This has caused many people to look into how to work remotely. Other reasons that people seek remote work opportunities may include long commutes, increased traffic, or limited local job opportunities.

When it comes to working remotely, there is a lot more to it than you might think. First, you need to know how to work remotely, as its involves many changes if you’re coming from a standard job.

There is also staying productive and making a profit, too. With more people indoors and not working, people are going to be more conservative with their money. With these things in mind, here is a guide to help you get on track and address these issues.

How To Get a Remote Job?

The first big question to address is how to work remotely in the first place. As mentioned, getting your first gig is unlike traditional job hunting. In today’s gig economy, there are a lot of platforms that you can consider, which are filled to the brim with other applicants.

No longer are you competing with people within your business or your city, but across the globe.

This makes it necessary to have a new kind of skill set. You need to look beyond a resume and filling out application after application. Instead, you want to be looking at how you can better market yourself, how you can be more creative, as well as how to deliver something people are willing to pay for.

1. Market in the Right Place

When you think about job hunting, you begin to think of the traditional job posting sites: places like Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn. There are other sites like this that even have a section devoted solely to remote work.

But places like these are the worst place to be looking. Why? Because a lot of the freelance or remote work on those sites are usually location-specific. That, or they require some in-person contact or are questionable businesses in the first place.

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Either way, it’s better if you’re focusing more on continuous gigs from multiple clients rather than applying for full-time jobs while working at home. There are a lot of sites that can help with that. Ryan Robinson created a lengthy list of sites that post remote gig work that’s worth checking out.[1]

From there, it’s a matter of building up your portfolio. This can be difficult at first, but plenty of remote job posting sites can provide you with tips and tricks. Your profile on these sites also works similar to a resume.

2. Get People to Buy

The second important bit regarding how to work remotely is getting people to buy what you’re selling. If you’re in the right place, the next thing is to attract people. Naturally, people aren’t going to be coming to you in droves right away.

That being said, there are plenty of ways for you to build up your profile. A lot of it comes down to the skills that you have and how you showcase them.

Now, you have a lot of skills in your arsenal, but you want to be focusing on ones that close sales. For example, if you are someone who can finish work fast and maintain quality, that’ll be more appealing as clients can give you a larger workload or be confident that when they ask for some work, you can get it done fast.

This skill highlights one big thing that people care about and are willing to pay for: someone that they can trust.

Conveying that in a portfolio is difficult at first, but when you start getting work, and people are leaving reviews about your speed and reliability, people will begin to see that you are someone they can trust to get work done.

You also have skills that go behind the scenes. These don’t contribute to your output directly, but they could lead you to more clients.[2]

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One trait that’s mentioned is having a place dedicated to your work and where you can focus. This can help you increase your speed and productivity, as it’s a place where you can really dig in to what’s in front of you.

This can lead to people buying more from you because you have created a system for yourself to enter a state of mind where you can work without interruptions.

How to Stay Productive While Working Remotely

As you begin working and getting clients, the next biggest challenge is staying productive. Like I mentioned above, having a place where you can focus will help you in staying productive, but oftentimes people need more than that.

For example, having a place where you can put out a lot of work is great, but what if your pickings are slim? Or maybe you’re not a huge fan of sifting through job postings?

Having a place where you can focus is good, but it might not help you to feel motivated to do parts of the work you don’t want to do.

When it comes to learning how to work remotely, there are times where you’ll have to do work that you don’t want to do, and there will be times when work comes slowly. During those times, you need to have ways to stay productive. Here are some suggestions to help.

1. Create an Ideal Work Space

Let’s go into more detail about what a productive home office space looks like and why it can be effective.

First, you want to make sure that this space isn’t in your bedroom. Many remote employees work from their bed, and it’s bad for several reasons.[3]

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The biggest reason comes down to how we are programmed. When you are lying in bed, the brain is programmed to go to sleep. If you try rewiring your brain to think staying in bed is “going to work,” it’s difficult for your brain and your body to get into that mode.

You want to make sure that the area you are going to feels like you are “going to work.” Even though work is only a few footsteps away, that’s enough time for you to tell your brain, “I’m going to work now.”

With this in mind, you want your space to be ideal for working. Make sure that the space is clean, has a great internet connection, and has a simple background for video calls. You want to make sure the area feels like an office or a place where you can get things done.

2. Take Breaks

When working remotely, you get to set your own hours. While that sounds great, this is something a lot of remote workers forget about.

You’d think that working at home is luxurious, but in reality, a lot of freelancers overwork themselves. It’s not out of the ordinary for freelancers to work exceedingly more time than those working a typical 40-hour workweek.[4]

With that in mind, be sure that you are pacing yourself. Take breaks, and get away from your office space once in a while. Even with a virus flying around, you can still get outside or walk around your home or apartment[5].

Benefits of Taking Breaks While Working Remotely

    Not only is this good for your own sanity, but it can also be a productive tool as well. Our bodies aren’t built to continuously put out work without stopping, and even if we’re in a comfy chair, we can still feel drained by the end of the day if we attempt this.

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    By taking some regular breaks at your own pace, you can boost your productivity, especially if you are incorporating stretching and other activities that bring you energy. If you have trouble remembering to step away for a moment, use time tracking apps to remind you.

    3. Set Regular Goals

    One of the biggest challenges with how to work remotely is the fact that you need to set your own goals. When you’re going to work for a company, you already have your duties outlined.

    That’s not the case when you are the one setting your own hours and acting as your own boss. That difference can be mentally shocking despite it being so obvious.

    Because setting goals and working towards them is challenging for many people, some people give up on goals quickly or self-sabotage. They run into one problem and lose all motivation.

    With this in mind, you want to be setting goals on a regular basis. You can think of it like a schedule. For this many hours, you want to be doing a specific task. Or maybe you want to structure it as a to-do list and schedule your time according to the tasks that need to get done.

    Whatever the case is, setting goals or having a plan in place allows you to set markers that you can work towards. This is a system that works because businesses do this all the time through the duties and responsibilities in each position. They’re the ones setting the markers that you are working towards.

    Final Thoughts

    Working remotely isn’t as glamorous as it’s made out to be. You need to create systems and habits for yourself that not only will get you clients, but keep you productive and content in your position.

    Now may be as good a time as any to see if this can work for you. Even though most people are out of a physical job, the gig economy could present opportunities for people to stay afloat during these hard times.

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    More on How to Work Remotely

    Featured photo credit: Paige Cody via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on January 5, 2022

    The 5 Fundamental Rules Of Working From Home

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    The 5 Fundamental Rules Of Working From Home

    Suppose you finally took the plunge: resigned your corporate job, decided to follow the passion of your life and (by lack of a new office space, of course), you started to work from home. Welcome to the club! Been there for a few years now and, guess what, it turned out that working from home is not as simple as I thought it would be.

    It certainly has a tons of advantages, but those advantages won’t come in a sugary, care free, or all pinky and happy-go-lucky package. On the contrary. When you work from home, maintaining a constant productivity flow may be a real challenge. And there are many reasons for that.

    For instance, you may still unconsciously assimilate your home with your relaxation space, hence a little nap on the couch, in the middle of the day, with still a ton of unfinished tasks, may seem like a viable option. Well, not! Or, because you’re working from home now, you think you can endlessly postpone some of your projects for ever, since nobody is on your back anymore. You’re your own boss and decided to be a gentle one. Fatal mistake. Or…

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    OK, let’s stop with the reasons right here and move on to the practical part. So, what can you do to squeeze each and every inch of usefulness and productivity from your new working space and schedule (namely, your home)? What follows is a short list of what I found to be fundamentally necessary when you walk on this path.

    1. Set Up A Specific Workplace

    And stay there. That specific workspace may be a specific room (your home office), or a part of a room. Whatever it is, it must be clearly designed as a work area, with as little interference from your home space as possible. The coexistence of your home and work space is just a happy accident. But just because of that, those two spaces don’t necessarily have to blend together.

    If you move your work space constantly around various parts of your house, instead of a single “anchor space”, something awkward will happen. Your home won’t feel like home anymore. That’s one of the most popular reasons for quitting working form home: “My home didn’t feel like home anymore”. Of course it didn’t if you mixed all its parts with your work space.

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    2. Split Work Into Edible Chunks

    Don’t aim too high. Don’t expect to do big chunks of work in a single step. That was one of the most surprising situations I encountered when I first started to work from home. Instead of a steady, constant flow of sustained activity, all I could do were short, compact sessions on various projects. It took a while to understand why.

    When you work in a populated workspace, you behave differently. There is a subtle field of energy created by humans when they’re in their own proximity, and that field alone can be enough of an incentive to do much more than you normally do. Well, when you’re at home, alone, this ain’t gonna happen. That’s why you should use whatever productivity technique you’re comfortable with to split your work in small, edible chunks: GTD, pomodoro.

    3. Work Outside Home

    In coffee shops or other places, like shared offices. It may sound a little bit counterintuitive, to work outside your home when you’re working from home. But only in the beginning. You’ll soon realize that working from home doesn’t mean you have to stay there all the time. It basically means your home is also your office and you’re free to go outside if you want to.

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    I know this may not apply to all of the “work from home” situations, but for those related to information processing, when all you need is a laptop an internet connection, that usually works beautifully. It adds a very necessary element of diversity and freshness. It can also be the source of some very interesting social interactions, especially when you have to solve all sort of digital nomad situations.

    4. Go Out!

    Working from home may be socially alienating. After almost 3 years of doing it, I finally accepted this as a fact. So, apart from balancing your home time with consistent sessions of working outside of your home, you should definitely go out more often. Our normal work routine, the one that is performed in an office, that is, makes for an important slice of our social interaction needs. Once you’re working from home, that slice won’t be there anymore. But your need for social contacts will remain constant.

    So, my solution to this was to grow my social interaction significantly over what I was having when I was working in my own office. Going out to movies, running in the park, meeting for drinks or just chat, whatever it takes to get me out of my home/working space. On a one to ten scale, my social life before was around 3 and now is at a steady 7.

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    5. Thoroughly Log Each And Every Day

    It goes hand in hand with keeping a personal journal, but this time it’s about work, not personal feelings and experiences. Keep a detailed log of each project and be always ready to pick up from where you left one day or one week ago in just a matter of minutes. It’s not only a productivity enhancer, although it will help you be more productive, but it’s more on the accountability area.

    When you work from home you’re your own boss. And, for any of you who are (or have been) bosses, this is not an easy position. You gotta keep track of all the information about your team and of every advancement in your projects. That’s what a boss is supposed to do, after all. When you work from home you have to perform this bossy role too, otherwise you will be lost in your own unfinished ideas and endless project stubs faster than you think.

    Featured photo credit: Ian Harber via unsplash.com

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