Everything I learned in six years of working remotely
Over the last few weeks, more people and companies are embracing remote work. It's also become a hot topic, as many workers try it out for the first time.
MY HISTORY WITH REMOTE WORK
In 2014, my husband graduated from college after going back in his mid-30's to try his hand at a different career. We knew that his finding a job meant we would likely have to move. We also knew that we needed both of our incomes to make it work.
Since I was at a job I really enjoyed, I was able to propose telecommuting, or working remotely, as an option. I created a document that outlined what this arrangement would look like, and in September 2014, I began my journey working remotely.
Three cross-country moves and six years later, I still enjoy working from the comfort of my own home. I've grown accustomed to the lifestyle and appreciate getting to work and collaborate with people on a global scale.
Walls and timezones no longer limit what I'm capable of professionally.
Here are a few things I've learned in the past six years that have helped me be successful working from my home office:
15 TIPS FOR WORKING REMOTELY
Have 1-2 dedicated workspaces in your home. I use my dining room, as well as a big, comfy chair in my living room. I also take advantage of multiple floors in my home, so that I don't get bored by being in one location. Rarely do I ever work in my bedroom. Keep some spaces off-limits to work so you can still enjoy your home AS HOME.
Have 1-2 workspaces outside of your home. When I need to get out of the house, I go to a nearby coffee shop, library, or bookstore. Getting out of the house from time to time prevents me from getting stir crazy and ensures I'm still getting human interaction.
Establish boundaries with your spouse or partner. My husband knows at this point when I am, and when I'm not, up for chit-chat, and he respects those boundaries. I'm home, but that doesn't mean I'm available.
Establish boundaries with everyone else. Once again, I'm home, but that doesn't mean I'm available. Let people know that you're busy. Set social hours and non-social hours. Do this for your sanity.
Don't '86 your childcare options just yet. Sometimes remote work is a way to save on childcare costs. Sometimes it isn't. Your child's age and maturity levels have a lot to do with this. In many cases, you still need childcare or help if you want to *successfully* work from home.
Build "distractions" into your routine. If that pile of clothes is begging to be washed and folded, do it before or after your work hours. Or take care of chores bit-by-bit when you get up to use the restroom. It's ok to take small breaks throughout the day to get things done around the house. Set a timer, though, to make sure you stay on track.
Take a shower and get dressed. Game. Changer. Rarely am I productive in my pajamas. At the very least, wear a nice shirt with pajama bottoms in case you need to make a video call. This small thing makes a world of difference for you mentally.
Wear shoes. Some people do not wear shoes inside their homes for various cultural or sanitary reasons, and that's understandable. However, shoes can trick your brain into being more productive. It's like magic. Sometimes, for no other reason than productivity, I slip on a pair of shoes.
Identify peak production hours. My morning hours are sacred. It's when I can check off the most tasks in a small amount of time, and my energy is at its highest. I rarely schedule morning meetings or calls for this reason.
Identify peak meeting/collaboration hours. I try to take meetings or ask people to hop on the phone in the afternoons. My energy is lower, and I'm not as distracted by things going on around the house. I'm better able to give the call my full focus and attention.
Don't skip meals. It's so easy to get into a groove to the point where it's the middle of the afternoon, and you haven't eaten anything. Make sure you're eating healthy meals during the day. Juices and smoothies are also good options for making sure you stay hydrated and putting good, healthy things into your body.
Don't keep too many snacks around. I gained about 15-20 pounds, give or take, in my first couple of years of working from home. The culprit? Keeping lots of snacks around the house and picking at unhealthy foods throughout the day. If it's easily within reach, you will reach for it.
Try the Pomodoro technique. When I have a broad span of time in which I can work, I embrace the Pomodoro technique and work for 45 minutes on, and then take a break for 15-20 minutes. You'll be amazed at what you can get done in that 45 minutes. You'll also thank yourself for the much-needed break.
Don't underestimate white noise. Sometimes, I'll put the TV on in another room and turn it to where I can barely hear it. I don't ever actually watch TV during the day. Other times, I'll ask Google to play music quietly or listen to podcasts or an affirmation video on YouTube. White noise, or the subtlest bit of something, can be more helpful than a perfectly quiet house.
Try not to over-work. Research shows that employees and workers often work MORE when they're able to work from home. It's much more difficult to turn yourself "off" than get going in the morning. Be productive. Get the job done. But don't get burnt out in the process.
Have you ever worked remotely? What would you add to this list? Ask me questions or continue this conversation with me over at @mareejones on Twitter or Instagram. Connect with me on LinkedIn for more insights about my remote working journey.