Remote Work

You Don’t Need Work/Life Balance

Everyone’s heard of work/life balance. But as a remote worker, is that really the best approach?

The answer is: no.

There’s no such thing as work/life balance. Instead, focus on integrating your life and work. You can only focus on one area of life at a time, so trying to balance it all will only leave you feeling frustrated.

Remote Work

Simple Strategies to Focus While Working Remotely

Are you having trouble focusing while working from home? There are some radically simple things you can do to help stay focused.

  • Create Space
    • Close the office door or use headphones/music
    • Turn off notifications
    • Choose 20-60 minute blocks in the day for deep work
  • Clarify
    • Choose your 1-3 most important tasks
    • Do a mindsweep
  • Build Routines
    • Routines build focus (i.e. Pavlov’s dogs)
    • Start work at the same time each day
    • Do the same routine to start your day

We’re also launching a new podcast called Remotely Working soon. Sign up to stay notified!

Remote Work

Remote Work is Exploding Right Now

Remote work is a trend that’s been on the rise for a number of years now.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, now many companies (and workers) are forced to experiment with working remotely, in many cases being highly unprepared for the new environment and circumstances that come with working from home.

This is why we rebranded to Effective Remote Work last year. Our aim is to help remote workers be effective in integrating work and life in a healthy and intentional way.

Since the rebrand, we’ve stuck pretty close to our roots in productivity and personal effectiveness. However, that’s not the full picture of the needs for remote workers.

While many remote companies are sharing their company policies and culture, the remote worker usually gets left to a listicle about making sure you have a separate office and put clothes on.

Let’s be honest — working remotely requires so much more than that to be effective.

You need to manage your relationships, both work and personal, differently.

If you lead, you need to lead differently.

You even need to consider different tools for the job at hand, possibly even at your own expense.

That’s why we at Effective Remote Work are aiming to help remote workers across all these areas, productivity included.

And that’s also why we’re announcing a new podcast called Remotely Working.

We plan to launch in the next few weeks, so if you’re interested in tuning in, sign up in the link above and watch your email inbox for more information!

Remote Work

Surviving (and Thriving) Remote Work During Coronavirus

If you’ve never worked remotely before, it can be a daunting and stressful experience. Combine this with school closures, and it can feel like a recipe for productivity disaster. However, there are a few things to keep in mind while you’re working remotely for the first time that will help you be more successful. Remember that you need to:

  • Be more intentional in your communication
  • Have people you can talk to if you’re feeling down
  • Set boundaries with work spaces and times
  • Don’t get too stressed out

Remote work can be a huge benefit to family and work life, but be sure to explore changing your habits to be better at it because it’s very different from working in an office.

WATCH: Surviving (and Thriving) Remote Work During Coronavirus

Remote Work

Adapting To An Unpredictable Schedule As A Remote Worker

There are days when I’m on my game and everything is clicking for me as a remote worker. I check off tasks in my task manager and everything is just humming along. Other days, I have disasters where emergencies pop up and throws off the entire day’s schedule. At the end of disastrous days, my to-do list has no completed check marks because I was putting out fires that comes with the day.

I read hundreds of blog posts searching for that one productivity trick that will handle any situation. But I soon realized that there was no “one” magical trick that will work in every situation. Some remote workers have complete control of their schedule. Others (such as workers who work on customer support) don’t have that luxury.

I have learned to switch my tactics depending on the situation.

Create a Today List of my 3 MITs (Most Important Task)

I choose two to three of my most important tasks from my task manager and work on them today. I write those 3 tasks on a sheet of paper or in my Bullet Journal. When I complete the 3 tasks, I can return back to my task manager and choose another 2-3 tasks. This is helpful on days where I don’t have complete control over my schedule. I might be on call and need to be ready to help with customer requests immediately. I can maintain my focus on my MITs by working on them in between small pockets of time when I am not dealing with customers.

Why Does a "To-Do Today" List Work?

Time-Blocking My Daily Schedule

Cal Newport schedules work for various tasks. If the task isn’t on the calendar, it probably won’t get done. Time-blocking works best for me when I have control over today’s schedule. I can plot out my 3 MITs into today’s schedule. I try to perform deep work during my golden hours when my focus is high and I can pay attention. I include buffer time between deep work to recharge by scheduling in some brain dead work in between the deep work. This takes the 3 MITs to another level because I am actually scheduling in time for them. I treat these time blocks as personal appointments that I can’t break. If I get interruptions, I’ll schedule my work around my 3 time blocks.

I do have to be careful about over-scheduling. I can plan the perfect schedule and watch it all fall apart by 9 am. Time blocking utterly fails for me during busy seasons such as the Christmas Holiday Shopping season. It works best during slow periods such as after the new year. I won’t have as many pressing demands on my personal schedule and I can return back to working on my personal projects.

Deep Habits: The Importance of Planning Every Minute of Your Work Day

Theming My Days

When I have a more structured week that has few interruptions, I can start theming my days as the Productivityist, Mike Vardy, likes to do.

Vardy suggests putting aside batches of work on certain days throughout the week. Every day has a specific purpose with similar groups of tasks are taken care of. I try to have most of my meetings, errands, and phone calls on Mondays instead of scattered throughout the week. I have Wednesdays set aside for administrative paperwork that needs to be completed before the end of the week. I also designate Thursdays for work on my advertising campaigns and on writing. I love my Tuesdays and Wednesdays open as buffer days to work on customer requests that starts to pile up through the week.

How To Transform A Single Daily Theme Into An Everyday Focus

Eat That Frog

According to Brian Tracy, I should try to tackle work by taking one MIT (usually the most difficult one I’ve procrastinated on) and do it the first thing in the morning.

I pick this tactic when I know my day is in complete chaos. I might be focused on a client project deadline and won’t have a lot of free time throughout the day to focus on my personal projects. I reduce the 3 MITs down to 1 MIT and call this my “Frog for Today” 🐸. I wake up early and get started on my frog immediately after a light breakfast. I try to put in at least 30-60 minutes before I officially start my work day with the other emergencies that I need to work on for the rest of the day. As long as I can make progress for 30-60 minutes a day, I’ll be happy. If I can get my frog completed, I’ll feel a sense of victor before I throw myself into the daily chaos of constant interruptions and distractions.

Eating the frog has always been my fallback plan when I’m in high peak season. When time-blocking and daily is nearly impossible, I turn to “Eating My Frog to take forward steps before dealing with today’s demands.

The Truth About Frogs

I don’t subscribe to using just one of the four tactics I’ve described above. I use a different tactic depending on my schedule. Time-blocking and theming won’t work all the time. Life is too chaotic on some days or weeks. Choosing my 3 MITs or at least 1 frog to eat gives me a daily plan to work on.

What did you do to figure out your workload this week? Do you use time-blocking, daily theming, the 3 MITs, or the frog in your remote work? I’m always looking for other tools that helps me to go with ebb and flow of life when life suddenly accelerates from nice and peaceful to crazy chaotic. Hit the Reply button and tell us what you do!