Time Management Series: The Remote Worker

The remote worker is in a unique position between flexibility and discipline. There is a great opportunity to increase productivity but at the cost of an increase in disruptions. Remote workers are responsible for their time management, and sometimes that’s easier said than done when they’re faced with the reality of distractions at home. 

As an experienced remote worker, you’re already aware of the pros and cons and likely have the discipline necessary to complete your tasks away from a conventional office space. But are you being as efficient as possible with your time? Do you have enough time set aside for yourself each day? 

If you’re new to working remotely, start implementing these tips right away. Whether you’re used to the 3-10 second commute or not, learning to be strict about your time management practices can really ease your stress levels and make working from home the dream you’ve always pictured it to be. It’s a matter of analyzing your habits, setting boundaries, and rewarding yourself throughout the day.

Determine When You’re Most Productive

There’s a good chance you have to be available during the traditional 9-5 hours for meetings and general tasks, but this doesn’t necessarily mean this is when you’re most productive. Perhaps you’re a morning person and knock out your most time-consuming larger items first thing, or you’re on the other end of the spectrum and feel more awake at night. Either way, take advantage of this time and design your schedule around it. 

If there’s no clear time of day that you feel most productive, or if you think it just depends on the day, be sure to spend a week or so monitoring yourself. Just pay closer attention to when you naturally want to accomplish meaningful work and make it habitual. You can also use time tracking apps to see where and when you spend most of your time. Here’s a list to get you started. 

Set Boundaries

Setting family and work boundaries is imperative for the remote worker. More and more parents are working from home, but even if you live with roommates, you need some structure in place so you can focus. This can, for countless reasons, but more challenging when you have young kids, but that’s why it’s important to set boundaries with your work team as well. This could look like being transparent about your calendar and sharing that you will not budge on having lunch with your family every day from 12-1. 

Be strict about your routine, if you make an exception once, it’ll be easy to make an exception the next time and that could negatively affect your family and/or work life. Don’t be afraid to schedule in your own downtime. 

Reward Systems for the Remote Worker

It’s reported that 78% of employees are more productive after being rewarded. This probably doesn’t come as a shock seeing as organizations of all sizes use some type of employee reward system. Why not use this system at home? When you see a task to its completion, give yourself a minute before the next item on your to-do list.

One of the most common ways to reward yourself would be with a snack, preferably a healthy one so you don’t feel sluggish. Other rewards work well too, such as a short walk outside or spending a couple of minutes with your dog. Try to stay away from using social media or television as a reward, as these can very easily turn into distractions and get you off track with your day. A good rule of thumb is to stick to the rewards that energize you.

Determining your productivity, setting boundaries, and rewarding yourself are all meant to boost your personal work ethic and make you a strong remote worker. It’s all about time management and feeling empowered. You have much more control over your schedule than ever before, leverage that control to the best of your ability so you feel energized and have time for your job, your family, and yourself each day.