My top 8 tips as a full-time remote worker
September 21, 2022
The novel COVID-19 pandemic has worked as a catalyst in making remote working the new norm. Before this pandemic, only freelancers used to work remotely in Bangladesh, but this was something frowned upon or trivialized by our society. As companies were forced to work from home, employers gradually realized that you can get the same level of output remotely, as you would physically. More and more companies started accepting WFH. In a city like Dhaka, where traffic jams eat up around 5 million working hours every day, remote working is a blessing.
I have been working remotely since 2020 and I don’t think I am ever going back to the days of sitting in traffic for hours to get to the office and then sitting in front of a computer to do the work that I could have done from my laptop at home. The beauty of remote working is that there are no set guidelines, you get to be your own boss and work the times when you’re at your best. The following tips are from my own experience of working remotely for more than 2 years. You can pick something up that you like and fit into your own schedule or routine.
Have a Dedicated Workspace
Now, when I say have a dedicated workspace, I don’t mean those fancy workstations with dual monitors, LED lightings and other “sexy” setups that people have. What I mean is, simply a space or a corner in your home where you can work undisturbed. The objective of having a dedicated workspace is to immediately get into the headspace of working when you enter that zone. A lot of times I see people trying to work from their bed or their comfortable recliner, wondering why their productivity is so low. It is because your brain is confused. Your bed is your safe haven, used for sleeping or relaxing, and when you try to get into the headspace of working from your bed, you are going against nature because your brain is trained to go to sleep when you’re in bed. So, I suggest creating a dedicated workspace so that your brain is trained accordingly. Entering that zone will automatically instruct the brain that it is time to get to work.
It is very natural for your family members or people you live with to come up to you while you’re working and interrupt your work. This is exactly why you need to set some ground rules with the people around you. The best scenario is to have a whole room to yourself and to keep the door to your work-station closed. But this is the easy part. The hardest part is to control your own self, mainly the urge to check your cell phone every few minutes. In order to get work done efficiently and effectively, you need to minimize all distractions. The way I go about it is – I turn off the wi-fi and mobile data on my phone and keep it upside down while I engage in deep work, I also turn off different apps on my laptop that sends frequent notifications. Another important thing is that I don’t multitask, I don’t work on two tasks or projects simultaneously; my belief is that when you’re doing something, you should do it totally and give it your undivided attention.
Work in Time Blocks
I tend to dedicate time blocks for each task. For example, I have dedicated 2 hours of my day to writing this article. So, in these 2 hours, I will be doing nothing else but putting my thoughts and effort behind this task only. A lot of times I have seen that one can have a to-do list for the day but if they don’t map out the day and dedicate time for each task, they tend to lose track of time and fail to cross off all the tasks. I usually use the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ to keep myself engaged. Pomodoro Technique is basically utilizing the time you have to focus on a single task by breaking it into chunks. This method has helped me immensely to compartmentalize my time and utilize it efficiently.
Maintain Your Calendar Religiously
I maintain my calendar religiously, by blocking off the times I need to get my individual work done and keeping the rest of the time slots open for any meetings with co-workers or clients. Try to keep your calendar up-to-date so that you can collaborate with your team seamlessly. Setting meetings with people through conversation is a drag and also difficult to keep track. So, when someone asks you for a meeting, always direct them to your calendar and ask them to send out a calendar invite.
Be Your Own Boss
If you’re the type of person who needs your manager to keep you accountable to get your work done, then remote working is not for you. When you’re working remotely, you don’t have any co-worker or your boss who will remind you to do your work. You need to take responsibility and accountability for your own work and deliver within the deadlines.
Communicate with Clarity
One of the common challenges of working remotely is communication. So, you should always try to over communicate to keep everyone aligned. 2 things that I always do in case of virtual meetings are starting off the meeting with an agenda and concluding the meeting by summarizing what we have discussed, what the deliverables are (if any) and the deadline for the deliverables.
Utilize Digital Tools
When companies go remote, they are highly dependent on digital tools to run their operations. As a remote worker, you need to increase your proficiency with commonly used digital tools like Zoom, Slack, Teams, etc. When you first join a company, you need to be proactive in learning the digital tools that the company uses or else it will take a lot of time to integrate yourself into the team. Moreover, using digital tools can really make your life easier. For example, I use ‘TickTick’ as my personal productivity tool, and it helps me to keep track of my habits, be organized and keeps me grounded.
Be Mindful of Your Health
Many times I noticed that working from home disrupts your work-life balance, as work and personal life gets blended. You need to be mindful of this and learn to unplug from work. Try setting a strict deadline for yourself and stop responding to work calls once you get off work. You should also be conscious of the things you’re eating as it’s very easy to develop the habit of frequent snacking while working throughout the day. Getting out of the house once in a while to get some exercise done is also essential. Exercising releases Endorphins and Serotonin, hormones that naturally help improve mood, cognition, and concentration. Connecting with your friends and family is also a crucial element for your mental health.