When I tell people that I work from home I am guaranteed to have one, or a combination of the following responses:
- “Amazing. It must be nice to sit in your pjs all day”
- “I bet you just sit and watch TV all day”
- “You must have great discipline” / “I’d never be able to do that. I’d be too distracted!”
Home (or remote) working is becoming a more popular way to work and you’ll be happy to know it isn’t just for sole traders any more. SMEs all over the world are cutting their overheads by working from home; collaborating in a completely different way, but also in exactly the same way as they always have done, just by changing their mindset.
Before I divulge how I stay focused and organised, let’s address the above points
- The pyjama uniform – If you ask most home workers they get up and dressed at the same time as office workers. As my Granddad says: “Wear pyjamas, think pyjamas”.
- Unlimited TV – Yes, some tasks can of course be completed in front of the TV and lunch breaks can be taken whilst catching up on Brooklyn Nine Nine, but let’s be honest, it’s not the best background noise to have whilst on the phone to clients!
- Discipline – Yes. To be blunt. Working from home requires a greater level of discipline, however, creating a realistic working timetable helps.
So how do I cut down distractions and be as productive as possible?
Let’s start with the biggie – Time wasting
Unfortunately procrastination is not something solely attributed to students and is a home workers no1 enemy. ‘The sun is out…ooo I can hang out some washing….That cupboard is really messy, let’s organise it.” Before you know it, it’s 5.30pm and you’ve completed no ‘real’ (paid) work.
In order for me to see how much time I’ve spent working each day I use a wonderful thing called Toggl. This nifty tool allows you to log hours attributed to certain projects or clients by simply pressing start/stop. It’s especially useful if you have certain time targets to hit each day (as mentioned in my previous blog!)
If you find yourself drawn to social media, or reading various news websites, there are some great extensions you can use which, once you’ve used your time allowance, block certain sites (chosen by you). StayFocusd for Chrome and SelfControl for Mac OS X.
Whether you’re sharing documents or holding a meeting, you can still be as productive as you would be if sat in front of each other.
Skype or GoTo work on a number of devices and allow you to hold meetings remotely. GoTo has some great features such as: personal ‘meeting’ rooms, screen sharing and hand over control.
Sharing documents has never been easier with many options out there to choose from. The two I use most are Google Docs and Dropbox. Goodbye rejected email attachments!
Tasks and notes
So now you’re in the remote working mindset, you’re raring to go with distractions eliminated and collaborative working at the ready, what work is there to do?
- Manage your to do lists with Nozbe
- Manage projects with Trello – whether working alone or part of a team
- Take notes and keep track of information with Evernote. This cross-device tool allows you to organise info, pictures and audio files either for just you or for sharing with a team.
Most of the above bits of kit have a free 30 day trial, so my main bit of advice would be to give each a go and see what works best for you.
Happy home working!