Living the dream?
Remote workers and entrepreneurs seem like they have it made in the shade. Without as many traditional office rules to abide by, they appear to be the master of their own domain. However, that flexibility can be a double-edged sword; more choices can quickly spiral into a choice paralysis that leads to nothing getting done.
At the end of the day, remote workers might need to create something of their own structure in order to thrive. The structure acts as a cue of sorts to divide work and non-work hours.
So, what does that look like?
Start with your schedule. It’s awesome to be able to exercise, clean house, grocery shop and do a myriad of other things in the morning before and after work, without worrying about your commute.
It’s a brilliant benefit, but it creates another choice occupying space in your brain that could otherwise be focused on your business.
When writing a work to-do list, integrate pre-work and post-work tasks into that routine. Set a hard deadline for when personal errands stop and when work begins. Try to keep that free time period regular between days as well.
Oh, and don’t forget breaks either. Much like an office lunch, baking breaks into your routine will offer some helpful structure and give your brain a chance to recharge.
Pants not required, but may help get things done
Another mental cue is how you dress. As it turns out, years of conditioning through putting on office attire as a morning routine aren’t insignificant. Working from home doesn’t require you to continue wearing those work clothes you hate. In fact, some may choose to overdress or, like Zuckerberg, wear a soft grey t-shirt every day.
Regardless of formality, the routine of a uniform is a useful cue. However, don’t be surprised if you find a certain level of comfort and energy by putting effort into how you look, and how that can help set your day off on a productive foot.
Finally, once you set a routine for yourself, eliminating distractions is a critical component. That’s not an uncommon idea, but what you may forget about is how distracting technology can be. That doesn’t just go for Facebook.
For example, not having adequate, stable Internet access in your home can often get in the way.
People don’t always think about it ahead of time because of how accustomed we are to is luxury. Face down connection issues to ensure things are working when your business is on the line.
HuffPo also suggests five factors that contribute to a functional and productive workplace:
• Exposure to natural light.
• A temperature setting at 77 degrees.
• Painted in neutral or soft colors.
• Filled with plants.
• Free from background noise.
If that’s at home, cultivate a space with these factors. If you’re like me, and home isn’t the right place to get stuff done for you throughout the day, scout out coffee shops and coworking spaces with these factors in mind, in order to optimize your productivity.
In short, while remote work provides a lot of benefits, it also opens us up to variables and choices not present in a traditional environment.
Part of harnessing that flexibility is systematizing choices that are less important so that you can focus that willpower on your business and career.