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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

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

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    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on September 9, 2021

    The Ultimate List of Deep Focus Music for Productive Work

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    The Ultimate List of Deep Focus Music for Productive Work

    Everyone has their favorite habits for boosting productivity. Your desk setup, morning routine, and diet all play a role. But there’s one thing that everyone agrees can make a difference: focus music.

    Soothing beats can keep distractions at bay, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Whether you’re trying to drown out mowers or simply get into a groove, put on a pair of headphones. Music can make all the difference in your focus.

    With that said, not all music is equally conducive to productivity. You need to be careful about what you listen to. Getting work done calls for very different sounds than getting a workout in.

    If you need a little more help to get rid of distractions, check out Lifehack’s free guide End Distraction And Find Your Focus. In this guide you’ll learn the simple techniques to stay focused and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

    This article will walk you through selecting the best music for productivity, as well as a list of tunes to help you get started.

    How to Pick the Best Focus Music For Yourself

    With so many genres and artists out there, there’s a lot of music to choose from. Before you press play, keep the following guidelines in mind:

    1. Stick With Instrumental

    Songs without words in them make it easier to focus. Lyrics can distract you from what you’re trying to accomplish because you might get the words mixed up with what you’re trying to read. If you’re writing something, you might find yourself typing the lyrics instead.

    Intelligence and instrumental music are correlated, perhaps because instrumental music is less intrusive.[1] Instrumental music tends to fade into the background, giving you a rhythm without pulling your mind away from the task at hand.

    Stay away from instrumental versions of songs you recognize. It’s easy to fill in the blanks with the lyrics if you’ve already committed them to memory.

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    However, some exceptions can be made. Creatives who produce videos or audio might prefer tracks that get their creative juices going, lyrics and all. However, if you find lyrics to be distracting, switch back to instrumental tunes.

    2. Take It Easy

    Not all instrumental music is calm and relaxing. Focus music should be, however. So, beware of instrumental songs that are too loud and stimulating. High volumes and tempos can work you up when you need to stay calm.

    Again, some roles can make exceptions. Physical laborers can use more rambunctious tunes to keep them energized. While calm tunes work best for those in desk-based roles, don’t go too extreme. Something that’s too soothing might make you feel tired, and yawning all day isn’t exactly the path to productivity.

    3. Pick Music You Enjoy

    At the end of the day, the best focus music is what you enjoy. If you hate classical music, don’t put together a classical playlist just because you stumbled on a study about its benefits.[2] Your dislike of the music will take away the productivity you’d otherwise get out of listening to it.

    Don’t be afraid to try something new. If you’ve never worked while listening to jazz before, why not? Save songs you like for later listening. Over time, you’ll build a playlist of tried-and-true focus music.

    4. Update Your Setup

    Before jamming out to your productivity tunes, make sure you have the right equipment. Invest in a music streaming service so you don’t have to listen to ads. Purchase noise-canceling headphones to avoid distracting your co-workers.

    Focus music is all about ambience. Anything that interrupts your flow—whether that’s poor sound quality or glitchy streaming—needs to go.

    Expect to spend at least $100 on headphones or speakers. For the streaming service itself, Spotify Premium is the standard at $9.99 per month. Slacker, Apple Music, and YouTube Music are also popular.

    Building Your Perfect Playlist of Focus Music (With Recommendations)

    Now that you know what to look for in focus music and how to listen, it’s time to build your playlist. Get started with these smooth, instrumental genres, artists, and songs.

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    1. Chillhop Music

    This YouTube channel has almost 3 million subscribers. Its music videos run 24/7 and feature driving yet relaxing beats.

    Most songs on this channel fall into a category called “lofi hip hop,” a type of electronic R&B. Unlike traditional hip hop, lofi hip hop songs follow a slow, steady pattern that induces focus and relaxation.

    Chillhop playlists can also be streamed on Spotify, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. Popular artists include nymano, No Signal, and Sleepy Fish.

    2. Andy McKee

    Andy McKee is an acoustic guitarist who became famous after “Drifting,” one of his early songs, went viral on YouTube. “Drifting” exemplifies the creative, quiet guitar techniques found in the rest of McKee’s music.

    Today, McKee has six albums of primarily acoustic guitar. One of McKee’s most popular pieces, “Rylynn,” is a perfect example of his soothing yet upbeat sound.

    3. John Butler Trio

    The band John Butler Trio became popular after releasing “Ocean,” a 2012 hit with more than 50 million listens on YouTube.[3] Heavy on acoustic guitar, “Ocean” is an intricate ballad that ebbs and flows like the ocean itself.

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    Known for flowing changes in key and mood, the John Butler Trio proves that fast songs can stand in as great focus music. The group’s long songs—“Ocean” is 12 minutes long—are less disruptive for long projects. Two other favorites by John Butler Trio are “Betterman” and “Spring to Come.”

    4. Classical Radio on Pandora

    Classical music has long been a staple for music lovers looking to get work done. Pandora’s classical station features a great mix, from Beethoven to modern artists like Maria Callas and Jorge Bolet.

    Pandora has radio stations for every genre imaginable. You can generate playlists based on genre, artist, or even a specific song.

    Other music apps offer similar playlists and radio stations you can turn to for your classical music fix. From piano-heavy tunes to violin concertos, you’ll find plenty to perk up your ears.

    5. Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack

    Movie soundtracks are full of amazing focus music. One of my favorites is the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which is lively and adventurous but not in your face.

    If you like what you hear, Hans Zimmer, the mastermind behind the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, has worked on a huge array of films. Zimmer also put together the soundtracks for The Dark Knight, Interstellar, and Inception.

    One thing to watch out for with cinematic music is associations. As iconic as the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack is, if you’re thinking about Jack Sparrow instead of balancing spreadsheets, you should probably switch to a new song.

    6. Legend of Zelda Soundtrack

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    Another hotspot for instrumental music is video games. If you’re not sure where to start, check out selections from The Legend of Zelda.

    Anyone who’s played The Legend of Zelda games will immediately recognize what they hear. The soundtrack is light, airy, and full of awe. Keyboards, harps, and flutes feature prominently.

    Although you could spend hours listening to The Legend of Zelda music, don’t forget about fan-produced songs in this genre. The video-gaming community is robust, and instrumental re-creations of your favorite games’ soundtracks can be found all over the internet.

    7. Nature Sounds and White Noise

    This genre may be too relaxing for some, but others prefer less structured focus music. Sounds like thunder, wind, and rushing water can transport you to a quiet, idyllic place to get work done.

    One type of white noise to avoid is city-related sounds. Even without lyrics, honking horns or chattering crowds can be distracting.

    An advantage of this type of focus music is that it can be set on a loop. If you find a track you like, go ahead and put it on repeat. When it starts over, you won’t even notice.

    Ready, Set, Play

    The best part about focus music is that nothing is off-limits. Some people work better listening to Tom Petty tunes than instrumental music, and that’s okay. What’s important is that it’s motivating without being distracting.

    To unlock your next tier of productivity, spend a couple of hours clicking around on your favorite streaming music site. You’ll get more done, and best of all, you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

    More Tips to Improve Your Focus

    Featured photo credit: Lala Azizli via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] New York Post: Smarter people listen to instrumental music: study
    [2] Forbes: Does Classical Music Help Our Productivity?
    [3] YouTube: Ocean – John Butler – 2012 Studio Version

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