The luxury of working from anywhere, the flexibility of setting your own hours, and the freedom of choosing how you work — these are just a handful of the benefits that go hand-in-hand with working remotely. But, as with all good things, there is a flipside to this equation. With freedom and flexibility comes the chance to become easily distracted. Hey, we’re not judging. It can be hard to stay on task when you’re traveling the world and making the most of your life on a daily basis. The good news is, we’ve got some tips to keep you on track not only in your personal life, but in your work life as well.
The types of distractions you face are going to be dependent on the type of person you are.
Some of us fall victim to internet holes while surfing the web and waste hours tracking down the latest fad to hit the net. Some of us can’t help but to start our day with a run that quickly leads to a breakfast that in turn has us meeting up with a friend at the mall for lunch. While these distractions are all well and good when you’ve got the time, they’re not the most useful when it comes to productivity during the work week.
These six tips will help you stay on track when there’s work to be done. And guess what? The sooner you can stop beating around the bush and complete what needs to be done, the more time you have to enjoy the other aspects of your life. Not to mention, work seems to become infinitely more enjoyable when you’re prioritizing it in a healthy way as opposed to avoiding it throughout your day.
#1 - For the Social: Join a coworking space
We get it, you’re social. You have a lot of friends. Unexpected visits are a common thing. That’s wonderful — just not for working. It’s OK to be surrounded by people while you work, but unless those other people are working too, they’re probably going to distract you.
For an easy fix, consider joining a coworking space. Coworking spaces provide a social environment for those who don’t like working alone, yet they’re hives of productivity for remote employees and freelancers. A coworking space gives you all the benefits of working from an office, minus the constraints. For those who find themselves seriously distracted by others, but are non-productive when alone, a coworking space can strike the perfect balance.
#2 - For the Web Surfers: Install an internet blocking tool
The internet is like a giant black hole, and if you’re not good at disciplining yourself when you’re working, it’s easy to get sucked deep down into it. Whether social media, web surfing, or non-work related email is your poison, you’re going to want to find a way to knock it off during your work hours.
One way of doing this is by installing an internet blocking tool, such as Freedom or StayFocused, which allows you to block certain websites for set periods of time. Many remote workers need the internet for their work, which is why website blocking software is ideal for curating what sites you can have access to, and what sites are off limits.
#3 - For the Chaotic: Corral your tasks together
Some remote workers (and to be honest, non-remote workers) can be easily distracted by the amount of tasks they have to do related to their jobs. Emails, conference calls, and company-wide chats can be major sources of chaos if you’re not good at managing it all.
Corralling your tasks into blocks will help you stay on top of your work. It’s more productive to take three video calls in a row than to scatter them throughout your day. The reasoning behind this is that you’re eliminating the time usually spent shifting between the mindset it takes to answer an email, and the mindset it takes to answer a video call. You can apply this logic to any group of tasks.
#4 - For the Easily Distracted: Create a schedule that you stick to
Does the cat walk by and you feel the need to pet it for five minutes? Do you remember that you wanted to boil some eggs right in the middle of writing an email to your boss? Are you up and about every ten minutes doing a chore when you should be working? If so, you are probably the type of person who is easily distracted.
While remote work often allows you the freedom and flexibility to work whenever you want, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t create an individualized schedule for yourself. Discipline is a good thing, and you can build up your own by setting work hours that you devote solely to work. You can always pet the cat later.
#5 - For the Fidgety: Work from a café
If it’s hard for you to focus from home – be it that you’re organizing your desk every five minutes, or spending too much time staring at the knick knacks and photo frames you have bordering it – heading to a café, library, or other public space to work might just be the solution.
When you work from a public space such as a café or library, you have limited space to sprawl out and work. In many ways, this can be a huge benefit for those who find themselves fidgeting when they have too many physical distractions around them. Instead, when you work from a public space, you can focus strictly on the materials you brought to work on.
#6 - For the Bored or Burnt Out: Give yourself a break
Feeling bored or burnt out at work can be a common problem, particularly if you’re overworking yourself. It’s important for hard workers to know when to call it quits for the day. Knowing when to “turn off” can be a major player in being able to then “turn on” again during the next work day.
Along with training yourself to stop working at the end of your day, giving yourself breaks throughout the day can be beneficial in helping to alleviate both boredom and burnout. Take your lunch away from your desk. Go for a twenty minute walk every few hours. Learn to step away so that when you return, you’ll be ready to work.
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