Working From Home 101: How To Work Remote Successfully

For many business owners, working remotely has become the new normal. The benefit of a flexible schedule can come with a few distractions so it is important to have a plan for success. You can keep your business and productivity on track with a few simple steps.

 

Make (And Keep) A Consistent Remote Work Schedule

Just because you’re physically out of the office doesn’t mean you’re actually out of the office. Setting a work schedule for yourself will help you make the most of your time online and help you maintain that work-life balance. Create a clear schedule for yourself and do your best to stick to it.

When you work from home, it is easy to spend every waking moment “on the clock,” answering video calls, emails, and texts no matter where you are. Before you realize it you’ve become burnt out from remote working all the time. Share your work hours with your team so they know exactly when to contact you. If you have remote team members working across time zones, having a schedule is an absolute must. Remember to plan for focus hours and schedule regular breaks. 

 

Take Breaks Away From Your Computer

It’s easy to lose track of time in your work even with a schedule. Scientifically speaking, most people begin to lose focus on certain tasks after about 90 minutes. A quick 15-20 minute break can help you relax and get refreshed for your next burst of calls and online meetings

 

Productive breaks are proven to help you make better decisions and lower stress. Examples of productive breaks include:

  1. Stretching or yoga
  2. A quick walk around the block 
  3. Meditation
  4. Brainstorming on a notepad about a subject you enjoy
  5. Listening to a podcast

 

Set your timer (yes, really) and step away from your computer. Once the timer goes off, it’s time to get back to work. The length of your break is totally up to you but remember to put it on your schedule. Take at least one longer break midday or when you know you might hit a slump in productivity. Pacing your workload with breaks throughout the day will help you stay on track for deadlines, meetings, and other important business milestones. 

Try to avoid your computer and social media during your breaks if you can. Not only will your eyes thank you, staying away from your computer in general during your lunch break will give you a clear-cut distinction between work time and break time. 

 

Create A Designated Work Space For Yourself

It may be tempting to work from a comfortable spot in your home such as the couch or your favorite cozy reading chair. However, if you want to be productive it’s important to have a designated work area. 

If you already have a home office, now is the time to utilize it to its full potential. If you do not have a home office, use a desk, table, or small stand to set up as your workspace. If you can, set up your workspace in a common area away from your bedroom and away from the television to minimize distractions. 

Your workspace should ideally include space for all the tools you need: a computer, a scratch pad for notes, space for your phone, a whiteboard or calendar, room for filing documents, and anything else you might need for your business. 

 

Stay Organized

Office, desk, and workspace organization will help you maintain your focus so that you can be more productive while working remotely. If your computer does double-duty as a work computer and a personal computer, organize your computer’s desktop accordingly. 

Use a calendar to keep your schedule organized. Your computer’s calendar can be great to set reminders, alerts, and keep track of group meetings. If you prefer the more analog route, a wall calendar that is within easy reach could be a great organizational asset. 

If your business has a lot of paperwork, make sure you have plenty of space for filing or at the very least a coherent and organized filing system. When you are working with documents that contain sensitive information make sure they are organized safely out of reach from children, pets, or potential food and drink spills. 

At the end of each day have a mini clean-up and organizing routine in order to prepare yourself for the morning. Just because you are sleeping mere footsteps away from your office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat it with the same respect you would if you were commuting to an office building. 

 

Set Boundaries With Your Housemates

Not everyone has the luxury of working alone when they are working remotely. If you have children, set clear rules about your workspace. If you have small children who have to be in and around your workspace while you work, consider setting up a smaller, child-sized workspace of their own for them to play at while you work. 

If you have roommates and your workspace is in a common area, make it clear that your workspace is not for setting food or drinks down. If it’s possible, pack up your workspace every day once you are finished with your work to keep any important documents or hardware out of potential harm’s way. 

If you have an office with a door, consider getting a chalkboard or whiteboard sign so your housemates, young and old, know when you are available and when you need some quiet time for meetings or calls. 

 

Be Kind To Yourself

Working remotely can be quite an adjustment for you, your family, housemates, and pets. Give yourself some room to be flexible. If you follow a schedule, keep your workspace organized, and set boundaries with everyone, you’re more likely to have a successful work from home experience. 

The transition to working from home can take some getting used to so don’t be surprised if you find yourself making changes to your schedule, your workspace, or your breaktime habits. Above all, make sure that you do what is best for you and for your business and stay consistent with your habits.

Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for Inc.com and HuffingtonPost.com, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.