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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

How to Work Remotely and Stay Productive and Focused

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.

    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 19, 2021

    How to Eliminate Distractions for Achieving Your Goals

    How to Eliminate Distractions for Achieving Your Goals

    We all have our own set of goals we want to achieve. Goals we have been working on for months, years and maybe even more. Goals that we keep chipping away at but are not able to make the necessary dent in, to make an impact and complete them.

    Despite all our late nights, early mornings and weekends of working in the perfect place, the precious timebox or updating our checklists – we simply cannot achieve the goals in front of us.

    Are we not good enough?
    Is our goal completely unrealistic?
    Are we not sure what it is we are actually trying to do?

    Perhaps. Maybe, it’s a combination of all of these put together and everything around us that keeps distracting us from our purpose, reducing our focus to the point where we can’t generate the internal focus and drive to accomplish what we want.

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    All those Notifications

    If you want to hit the low hanging fruit – start here. We are bombarded, BOMBARDED, with notifications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Years ago, when my computer prompted me for updates, I would get notified of them and later walk away – letting it update in peace and quiet. Now, I get them weekly to my phone, update this OS, download this app – constantly staring me in the face asking me to click update, constantly reminding me. Add to that mix all the emails and social media notifications and the buzzing gets even louder. Sure “some” of it is is important but when you are trying to focus on the task at hand, you don’t need that email from work or friend request coming in. You need to eliminate that distraction to the point where it cannot be easily overridden.

    When I’m working on one of my important goals, I turn off my phone and throw it across the room. The throwing (perhaps, gentle placement is more realistic) is an important act. The goal is for it not to be in arms reach and if I feel the urge to check, I find myself feeling that pang of guilt of actually, consciously, making the decision to walk across the room to pick up my phone.

    On the web, I’ve played with a few applications and have found Strict Workflow to be the best tool to help here. Strict Workflow is a Chrome extension that blocks your access through your Chrome browser based on a timer. When the timer is active you can’t access those sites, when you are on break you can. The only way to override the change once it is active is to uninstall the extension.

    Uninstalling the extension is akin to walking across the room to pick up my phone. If I were to uninstall the program while it was active I would feel that pang of guilt again asking me, questioning me whether going onto Facebook was worth not achieving my goal. And the internal follow-up question to that?  Do you really not have 30 minutes to spend on this goal?

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    And I would figuratively hang my head in shame and mumble to myself – yes I do – and get back to it.

    Guilt isn’t the greatest emotion in the world, but when it is used to get you back to what you need to be doing, it can be quite effective.

    You are doing too much

    Even after you’ve taken away all those distractions, you might start to find something still holding you back. It might be a subtle hold, perhaps more akin to a tug at your heart, it will come and go but will always be there… nagging you… pulling you down… holding you back… distracting you from your real purpose.

    What is it?  One of your goals, maybe all of them?  Perhaps you have too much on the go?

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    This is the hard choice that many people struggle with, as we want to accomplish so much in our lives.  But we need to make hard choices to move forward in life and this sometimes involves dropping the goals that are holding us back. These are the secondary goals on our plate that we simply aren’t going to achieve.  I recently had to make this decision. I had a couple of technical blogs that were languishing. I had not been writing in one of them for a year. Every few weeks I would remind myself of this fact to the point where it would become this 30 – 45 min conversation about how I could do it, what would I write about, where would I find the time, etc, etc, but then never do anything.

    So I removed the distractions.

    I deleted both blogs about 3 weeks ago. I could have kept them up and running for the next 6 months, but I chose to take them down immediately. Out of mind, out of sight. At first, I was sad, feeling as though I had failed. But a week later, those distractions were no longer consuming me, I didn’t think about them anymore and my time, energy, and focus were directed towards where it needed to be – on the goals I really wanted to focus on.

    The Duality of Opportunities

    Isn’t it a great feeling when someone you don’t know has seen your work and says – “Hey, saw your work, can we have lunch or would you be able to help on this project or can you do this presentation with us, etc, etc” – so many great feelings start to churn through you at that point in time. I love that feeling, it’s a feeling of validation and acceptance in all that you are doing and gives you such an incredible push. But like any sword, opportunities also have a double-edge to them. Sure it’s great to be acknowledged, but if that project is too big, not in line with where you want to be focusing your time or simply too big of an undertaking – walk away.

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    Taking control of your distractions involves making tough decisions. You can’t do it all, no matter how hard you try, you can’t. So sometimes we have to be picky with what we choose to do and the opportunities we take. You don’t have to be rude about it, but you do have, to be honest with yourself about it.

    Pick the opportunities which are most aligned to your goals, toss the rest.

    There are some uncomfortable feelings here – frustration, guilt, forced loss – that you need to deal with when taking control of your distractions. The answers are not always easy and can involve some deep soul-searching on what you truly want to accomplish.

    Deleting all the games and unnecessary apps from your phone, that’s easy, but turning down opportunities or generating that feeling of guilt when start to waiver are feelings we don’t generally lean towards. If you are serious about achieving your goals – not only achieving but surpassing them – then you need to take control of what is holding you back.

    Because if you don’t, if you let them run rampant when you do realize it’ll be too late and you’ll know, in a heartbeat, that the feelings you have at that point in time (of not having met your goals) are infinitely worse than what you would have felt if had taken control of them from the beginning.

    Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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