The conventional workplace has always been evolving – and it continues to do so to this very day.
Throughout the industrial revolution, labor migrated from rural landscapes to bustling cities, and settled in factories.
Information age has led to another labor migration. The conventional factory work has been traded in for a chair in an office, to appease the needs of the service industry.
In the developed world, the service industry is dominating in terms of output and value added to the economy. According to recent data, more than 74% of all GDP amassed in high-income countries is a result of services.
Given the current market environment and following the current labor migration trends, could it be that we as employees are bound to discover another dwelling suitable for work?
Perhaps it’s time to look at our own homes as a possible substitute to the modern-day office? Maybe we don’t need to anchor our workplace to any single location. As a matter of fact, many people are doing exactly that. They are exchanging their cubicle to work remotely; completely location independent.
A study conducted by service office provider in Zug Switzerland discovered that over 70% of professionals work remotely at least once per week. 53% of professionals actually end up working half a week or more remotely. And this trend is gaining traction quickly!
Now the benefits of remote work have been assessed on many occasions. It should be assessed since so many people are considering this as an alternative to the conventional office.
Some of the benefits associated with telecommuting (what some people refer to as remote work) include: reduced stress, increases employee retention, reduced costs for employers, and guess what – improved productivity.
The last part is what we are going to focus on today.
Improved productivity is something everyone can benefit from.
As an employer, it reduces your expenses, projects are being done on time or ahead of schedule. As an employee, improved productivity can mean more efficient work day – perhaps even a raise.
In the end, increase in productivity is a win-win for everyone involved. That’s one of the key aspects that is enhanced through telecommuting.
Have you considered going down this still-unconventional path of remote work?
Perhaps you are already working remotely. Well as the title suggests, we are here to discuss time management and productivity of remote workers.
As much as the studies like to claim all the positives that come with this new “nomadic” employment, becoming self-accountable can be difficult and without the right time management skills under your belt, could backfire quickly.
Let’s face it, it can be difficult to achieve some goals and produce results when there is minimal supervision. The flexibility you have created for yourself may deter you from working complete days; that work may overflow into the days ahead.
But I digress.
Time management isn’t everyone’s strong point. Lack of time management skills – especially while telecommuting – can lead to less-than-desired productivity outcomes.
We are here to remedy this. So even if you’re struggling with allocating time to what matters most, this article may lead to improved productivity and newly-discovered time management skills.
I know what you’re probably thinking right now. Working from home just means that you can get up at any point during the day; don’t even have to get dressed to get the work started.
That may be the case for some people, but that doesn’t always bring about the best results. At least not in terms of productivity.
If you’re going to “go to work” then it’s important that you act like it! Just because you’re telecommuting, doesn’t mean you can’t be formal in the way you approach work.
Get dressed like you were going to work. This is a great way to increase your productivity because you’re making your brain (and mental energy) behave as if you’re heading into the office .
In other words, you’re tricking yourself psychologically into being ready for all the challenges you’re going to face during the day – work related challenges.
Believe it or not, I, the guy who’s writing this post is a telecommuter. Just referred to myself in 3rd person, but ignore that.
Fact is that starting your day right, like you would if you were heading to the office, is immensely helpful for dictating the outcome of the rest of your day.
In this case improved work productivity and work results. Don’t skip a nice shower either. Those are the highlight of my morning routine.
So since we are discussing remote work, you probably have already thought about a place that you will be a substitute to your old office.
Now I don’t mean that your entire home space will be dedicated to the home office. You need to be much more precise when it comes to finding a new nook to get work done.
No matter where you find yourself, having a dedicated work spot is essential to continue staying productive. A place you can shut yourself in and treat the day just as if you’re back in your conventional setting.
I know this sounds a bit counter-intuitive given the fact that we’re trying to distance ourselves from the conventional. But you have to understand that a dedicated work environment is crucial to have, regardless of where you’re telecommuting from.
What I am about to say next may sound a bit harsh, but once you’re in the allocated office, it should be treated as such. This means that any interruption from the outside – that’s not work related – should be kept to an absolute minimum, if not completely eliminated.
Though I know it can be hard to completely dismiss the outside world, strive to create a space which provides solace for productivity.
Keep a schedule of when to take a break from the work at hand. I will go into scheduling a bit later in the post, but doing this will give you a chance to take a step back and actually engage with the outside world and embrace some distraction. This may be a time when you can leave the allotted office space to go deal with some errands – picking up kids from school, make food, take a nap, exercise, whatever.
Remember, having a dedicated office space really important psychologically for continued productivity. This is the place where your work takes precedence.
I think it’s safe to say that we all succumb to distractions every once in a while. Distractions may come in different shapes and sizes and we all react differently to them.
In order to stay productive throughout the day, you want to minimize the risk of coming across anything that’s unrelated to the task at hand. Work environment plays a big role in eliminating distractions – or perhaps even creating them.
When choosing to work from home, you may encounter powerful forces that will fight for your attention. Relentless bombardment of irrelevant videos, memes, sounds, and smells can waste considerable amount of time each week.
This is especially true when you’re working remotely – and chances are if you’re telecommuting, a lot of your time will be spent online.
The key is to understand what and who distracts you and distance yourself from those things. Usually the big culprit here is the aforementioned internet and its bountiful content library.
Having less supervision, this also means you could be distracted by family, friends, and even the postman dropping off mail.
Have a talk with the people that are living with you or any potential visitors. This may be your family, friends, or a flatmate.
That office that we talked about before, is now your place of zen, where work is a priority and that visitors should think twice before knocking. Of course, exceptions can always be made during emergencies.
Now in regards to distraction-emitting technology. Internet and phone in particular.
Child-locks exist on video game consoles and TV’s that prevent minors from accessing some mature content. The same methodology can be applied to your internet browsing habits.
Lock away those distractions. Software is available that locks specific websites which may bear the brunt of your distractions.
Also put away your phone. If you don’t need to use the phone for work, then turn on “airplane mode” for a little bit. Keep the buzzing and ringing to a minimum while you work; this will also prevent you from getting sucked into the social media void.
I like to listen to some music as I work. You may also wish to try that to help drown out some less-than-pleasing noises around your work station. If you go this route, try and stick to songs that don’t contain any lyrics. Ambient noises are a good choice or perhaps some jazz may be more up your alley.
While telecommuting, you may have some leeway in how your organize your day. The 9-5 may be altered a bit to fit your needs more; that’s the beauty of remote work.
Having some of this flexibility makes allows you to fit in some ‘must-haves’ or ‘must-dos’ into your daily routine. One of these is exercise.
For whatever reason, exercise is something that many adults seem to avoid. Around the globe, 1 in 4 adults are not getting enough exercise during the week. Western societies in general, are the most sedentary.
The workplace may actually be the culprit, given the fact that most service-based industries involve little to no physical activity. In the United States, only about 22% of adults get the required amount of exercise every week. And in the European Union, over 60% of adults rarely get the exercise they need.
Looking at these statistics, one would think that people would be more prone to exercise given the extensive list of health problems lack of exercises can be the cause of. I guess some attribute their busy schedule to their inability to get their blood pumping every once in a while.
Well when you telecommute, the additional flexibility may actually leave some room to fit in exercise. In your schedule. Which you’ll create. And I will talk about the importance of scheduling your day later in the article.
Now the benefits of exercise aren’t purely physical. Working out is actually proven to improve psychological health and cognitive function. Those things do play a pivotal role in your overall work productivity.
Now you see why I have brought up the need to include exercise in your daily routine. So go out there and start moving.
Well, finish reading this article first.
Having aspirations and most importantly structure in your daily routine is a great thing. It gives you a sense of control and allows you to track progress.
Goals are important in all areas of life – personal as well as professional. They are there to give validity to your actions.
While creating your daily goals, make sure to specify how you will achieve the goals you have made. Doing so, will allow you to better visualize the steps you need to take in order to get the task done. In a way you’re creating a daily walk-through for yourself.
Having goals and an action plan allows you to spend more time doing and less time thinking.
Having less oversight of what you’re doing throughout the day makes this step even more crucial. As some of the accountability rests in your own hands, daily goals are a great way to stay on track with any impending deadlines.
Just because you’re working remotely, doesn’t mean that your boss won’t potentially ask for status updates.
I will use myself as an example to illustrate the importance of maintaining structure and creating goals for yourself even while telecommuting.
As I have mentioned to you before, I also have joined the ranks of the millions of people around the globe who work from home. In the beginning, the one thing that I didn’t do was create a list of goals for myself. This in turn backfired on me, and unknowingly I fell behind on my work; the deadlines were approaching fast and the work that was required of me was not yet done. On the contrary – I was far from completion.
Now all the free time I used to have was spent on working, trying to catch up on the tasks I had failed to do – due to the lack of organization and goal setting. This is a cautionary tale for you to learn from.
Have structure, remain organized and prioritize work as you would have done while being in your “usual” office setting.
Time is one of the most precious resources we have available. We need to be efficient with how we use it, though the efficiency of our time utilization can be improved with the help of some tools.
Now we have talked about the need to create goals and schedules. They do help keep you focused and aware of the tasks that need to be done. Time tracking tools may also be a necessity to show you just how effectively you allocate time to achieve those goals.
Again, when it comes to working remotely, more often than not, we will be spending a lot of our time on the computer – online. Checking emails, writing, talking with clients, etc will usually involve the use of your phone, or a computer.
Now as I have mentioned to you before, a lot of possible distractions can be found on these devices, that will eat away hours before you even know it.
With the use of time tracking tools, Time Doctor for example, you will have access to daily time reports which disclose how effectively time was used throughout the day. Productivity goals may be set before commencing work; you will be alerted when you reach or exceed them.
These time tracking tools also typically provide the user with a dashboard, which makes tracking and analyzing time simple. See what websites use up the most of your time and how distractions are impacting your schedule.
Working remotely is a blessing – can also be a curse if you act cavalier with the newly acquired freedom.
Those benefits that everyone talks about, that comes with telecommuting are usually gained through discipline and effective time management.
You won’t suddenly become more productive as a result of working at home – this lack of accountability and dare I say “surveillance” that comes with remote work can actually be a detriment to many.
Enjoy the flexibility, but don’t let it go to your head to quick. Continue to preserve the good habits of the conventional work day, keep schedules and set goals for yourself.
With all this in mind, you can be safe knowing that your productivity won’t be hampered – in fact, it will be improved.
About The Author:
Mindaugas Skurvydas is the head honcho of content at InvoiceBerry, an online invoicing platform. The content produced is a result of copious amounts of coffee, and a laptop who should’ve been retired by now.