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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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    Published on April 8, 2021

    10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

    10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

    Want to know what Steve Jobs thought was the ultimate key in achieving success?

    “Focus and simplicity… once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs

    And this belief is even more important today than it was years ago. At your fingertips is a literal world of information and entertainment. So, it’s no wonder we all have such wandering minds nowadays.

    Thanks to the internet and smartphones, attention is practically a currency we should be more budget-minded about. In fact, a person who can stay focused is not only more likely to get more done but also be more satisfied at the end of the day because of it.

    Going further, a person who’s focused will more easily achieve their goals—anything from losing 20 pounds to getting a promotion at work is within the reach of this type of person.

    So, in the spirit of that idea, here are 10 ways to tame that wandering mind of yours and turn it into a laser-focused brain that gets things done.

    1. Find Your Totem

    Remember the totem in the movie, Inception? It’s an item that reminded people they weren’t in a dream when they touched it, and it was able to keep them grounded in reality.

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    You can replicate this idea when it comes to staying focused as well. All you’ve to got to do is find something to be your “focus totem,” and it’ll remind you that you should stop daydreaming and get back to work. Ideally, it’s something you can see and touch.

    In the movie, a chess piece and a spinning top were used—both are good ideas. You could also use a picture of your family, a mini trophy, or even wear a ring to focus your mind as well. (In fact, a green lantern ring might be kind of cool for this.)

    2. Promise a Reward

    Incentives are an obvious way to go. Having gold at the end of any journey makes you want to press forward just for the sweet results. In general, rewards should correlate to the difficulty/length of the work.

    For example:

    • Finish a quick house chore = a piece of chocolate
    • Complete an annoying administrative task = 10 minutes of Youtube
    • A successful day of work = a whole movie on Netflix

    Pretty simple stuff, right? But you’d be surprised how often you forget to reward yourself for doing solid work on the regular.

    3. Make It Stupid Easy for Your Wandering Mind

    I don’t know about you, but if I perceive my work to require more effort than I care to use, I’m instantly turned off. This then leads to distraction and procrastination. But you can offset this by breaking a difficult task into a bite-sized piece.

    Case in point, what seems easier: 30 pushups or 3 pushups?

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    It’s obvious, but sometimes our brains need to be “convinced” we’re only doing a small amount of work to get things going.

    But here’s something cool about this tactic: You can (and most likely will) keep going past your stupid easy benchmark. You don’t have to, but my experience tells me once you get going like this, it’s easy to go beyond your bare minimum goal.

    4. Empty Your Mind With Journaling

    Sometimes, there’s too much stuff floating around in your brain that is making your mind wander. In that case, it can help to spill everything in your head onto a journal to free up some space. You can use a pen and pad for this or something digital like Evernote.

    There are two basic ways to go about it:

    1. Freestyle – where you just write whatever randomly flows through your brain without thinking or pausing. This is great if you’ve got a million different ideas racing through your brain.
    2. Focused – where you create prompts or an outline to streamline your thinking and you just respond to the questions or format. This is best when you want to grasp a certain topic.

    5. Use the “Just 5 Minutes” Method

    Try telling yourself that you’ll work for “just 5 minutes” and then you can stop. You’ll find that the task feels far easier to handle. And like the “stupid easy” method, this tricks your brain into thinking the task is lower effort than it really is. After all, 5 minutes for even the worst task is psychologically manageable for any person out there.

    The key is to honestly allow yourself to stop at 5 minutes—no matter what. That’s what allows your brain to accept the method as legit and also lets it overcome the mental hurdle that makes your brain want to wander around and focus on anything but your task.

    6. Recite a Focus Mantra

    I like to think of mantras as a totem you can take with you anywhere you go. They serve the same purpose—reminding you to stay focused—but can be done anywhere and anytime.

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    I find the most powerful type of mantra to be based on reality. I learned this approach from Dr. Jon Fader—a performance coach who was on “Good Morning America”—and his book Life as Sport: What Top Athletes Can Teach You about How to Win in Life. He calls this “objective optimism.”

    Basically, you create a mantra that’s based on personal success in your life. That way, the mantra isn’t just a fluffy positivity statement, there’s also the weight of real-life success giving it power

    Some examples:

    • If you’re struggling to make yourself go to the gym but have technically been there many times already, you could say, “just another day of heading to the gym—easy.”
    • If you’re suffering from impostor-syndrome after accepting a promotion, just say, “I’m here for a reason” to remind yourself that your efforts were recognized by others and are the real deal.
    • If you’re nervous about an upcoming sports competition but have trained diligently for it, you could say, “I’ve done all the work possible” to remind yourself that your earlier efforts have created the best version of you for the event.

    As you can see, the most powerful mantras are evidence-based and positive. So, just find proof of relevant success in your life and transform it into a motivating mantra.

    7. Use the “Multi-Yawn” Approach

    One of the best ways to be distracted is to be tired. And sometimes, you’ll be tired in such a way that you’re “sort of” working but not realize that you’re actually constantly distracted.

    If you can notice when you do this, one thing I like to do is crank out as many big, satisfying yawns as possible. Olympic athletes sometimes do this before their big events. It calms them down and helps them perform better in the process. And it works just as well for us regular folks. I find it has a similar effect to taking a good nap (and actually works best in unison), so you can imagine how effective this can be.

    8. Find an Easy Win

    Nothing feels good like winning. So, it can help to find a few simple tasks you can do with little effort and just get them done immediately. This will create momentum and propel your productivity forward. The feeling of success will lock your focus in on the task at hand and refocus your wandering mind. Use this when you feel “resistance” to getting your work started.

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    9. Create a “Wins” List

    Feeling like a capable person who can win at life is motivating in and of itself. In light of this fact, it can help to have an ongoing “wins” list to prove you’re an able person.

    Just keep track of all your daily wins—big and small. And whenever your focus starts to wane, give that list a peek and remind yourself that you’re more capable than you realize.

    10. Add Stakes to the Mix

    If you were to lose $20 if you failed to complete a task, would you be more focused on completing it? Of course!

    Try and find ways to put something on the line when it comes to completing your tasks, and you’ll find your focus, motivation, and ability to things done to be higher than ever before.

    For example, if you’re at work, you could involve a co-worker by saying you’ll buy their food if you don’t complete a task before lunchtime rolls around. At home, you could say you’ll also mow the lawn if you don’t remember to wash the dishes before the day is over. Or you could just use something like Beeminder or TaskRatchet, which actually charges you cash for failing to complete a task or goal on time. (It’s scary but effective)

    All are viable methods, so just give one of them a shot.

    Who Else Wants More Success?

    Of the many methods of winning at life out there, focusing is definitely a top-three contender. You can’t get anything you want in life if you don’t buckle down and get your work done—a wandering mind won’t create success.

    But with these 10 focus tips, you’ll be ahead of the competition and be closer to a fitter body, higher income, and a flat-out better life than before.

    More Tips on Sharpening Your Focus

    Featured photo credit: Clay Banks via unsplash.com

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