Learning how to prepare to work remotely is a series of experiments and self-discovery.
Working remotely is amazing … right up until the jet lag throws off your sleep timings. And the annoying cafe wi-fi that keeps disconnecting.
For many remote workers, finding the right place and routine is a necessity. Especially for freelancers who get paid based on their performance. They need an optimal workspace that primes them for success.
But how do you find the right place and routine?
Consistent experiment and update is the answer. And we want you to start on the right foot without stumbling around blindly.
Let us explore how to prepare to work remotely from the experts who have been doing it for years. Here are 8 ways on how to optimize working remotely so you can feel optimal and able to work at your own pace.
This is where remote workers will spend the most time, so might as well make it count and comfortable.
Whether it’s in a coworking space, a corner in an abandoned room, or the dining table, a great workspace helps you stay focused and productive.
Everyone has different workspace preferences. Some prefer sit-stand desks while others prefer standing desks with bar stools. Some even work in different spaces depending on the task. Like doing creative tasks in a cafe or thinking tasks at home.
Experiment with your workspace and notice what gives you the most creativity, focus, or productivity. Try different environments and styles until you have found what works.
The ability to sit and work comfortably is critical when setting up a home workspace. Most remote workers will spend 5 to 10 hours sitting.
If the workspace is ergonomic-friendly, they will experience little to zero back pain, stiff neck, sore shoulders, or wrist pain. Thus, they can stay focused on the task at hand.
To give you a gist of how an ergonomic workspace looks like, here’s an example:
As the image shows:
If you are using a laptop, try getting an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse to achieve the correct sitting posture.
“Messy desk, messy mind.”
As the saying goes, cluttered and messy workspace brings negative effects to the brain, as science shows. The amount of “stuff” on the table could disrupt focus and drive up stress.
In contrast, a clean and decluttered workspace is essential when it comes to how to prepare to work remotely. It can help people focus and process information better.
Start the day by decluttering the workspace. Give each important or frequently-used item a home so you do not waste time searching for it. Return the things you borrowed from others. Tie the tangled cables and pull them out of the way.
Working in a routine gives a sense of predictability and control. You know what’s coming and you can be better prepared to tackle it.
But, a routine you had in the office may not be useful in remote work. This is where you need to experiment to find the best routine for yourself.
Find out what time you are most productive and block those times for deep work. Decide your breakfast and lunch hours and eat on time every day. Appoint a finishing time and honor it.
As you follow a routine, you will spend less time thinking “what to do next” and more time on what really matters.
A routine may not apply to all professions. Some jobs just can’t have predictability, like project management. However, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.
Tasks can still be planned, at the start or middle of the day. We understand things can change very fast. That’s why it’s important to stay flexible and still have some structure in place.
Take 5 to 10 minutes daily to plan a priority list, a to-do list, and a not-to-do list. Here’s the difference:
Even better, schedule each priority and to-do task in the calendar. This way, you will be notified when it is time to execute those tasks.
It can be tempting to reply to work messages during dinner, especially when the work phone is just a few inches away.
While doing so might earn you “the best employee award”, it is not sustainable to your physical and mental health.
It is important to set clear boundaries between work and personal life, especially for remote workers.
When you have clear boundaries, you can live a healthier lifestyle, spend more time with your loved ones, and have enough me-time to replenish your energy for the next day.
But how do you draw the lines?
Here are some tips for setting set clear boundaries:
At a glance, distractions can range from barely noticeable to mildly annoying, but they can affect a person more than they think.
A simple 30 second or a minute look at their phone, or a short 5-minute Facebook browse may look short. But 23 minutes and 15 seconds is already lost for the brain to regain its focus on the initial task. If you’re distracted every 23 minutes, chances are, your brain cannot focus at its peak.
To reduce distractions, try putting yourself in distraction-free mode. Start by designing a workspace that primes you for focus.
Many people work with a computer but it is also a source of distraction if not managed well. If you are constantly wandering around shopping websites or watching videos, consider using a website blocker app.
Aside from the computer, distractions can come from other people as well. It could be a roommate, family member, or neighbor. Try closing the door to your office. Put on noise-canceling earphones. Silent your phone and put it out of sight (if its vibration is disturbing, disable it).
Breaks are like fuel to body and mind. If a car keeps going without stopping for refuel, it will soon break down. The human body and mind work the same. They need breaks to rest so they can function well for the rest of the day.
Yet, sometimes remote workers get so absorbed into their work, they forgot to take breaks. At the end of the day, they feel exhausted and do not have enough energy for the next day.
A great way to optimize working remotely is scheduling breaks in your calendar. It can be a 5-minute break every 30 minutes or a 15-minute break every hour.
Well, what if you’re in the flow?
If you think the break could disrupt your “flow”, skip it. However, make sure that you take a longer break to compensate. When you’re in the flow, your brain actually works harder, so it needs more rest.
In conclusion, learning how to prepare to work remotely is a series of experiments and self-discovery. You might discover a new way of working that fits you. And that method may not work weeks later.
Take what you have learned and modify it to your needs.
Keep on experimenting and you will, one day, obtain your own optimal workspace that you can bring anywhere.
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