Forty-seven percent of Canadians work remotely, and 1.5 million of those workers are self-employed. And the growth of the remote workforce shows no signs of slowing down. While a highly appealing work option, choosing a remote, self-employed, or work-from-home lifestyle requires careful consideration to ensure both short-term and long-term success as an employee or entrepreneur. Here are some of the things you can do to stay motivated and focused while working remotely.
Have a Regular Remote Work Schedule
The unstructured workday might seem wonderful to people who report to an office daily. What they may not understandis how the structure helps companies get the most out of their employees. Without structure, you might get distracted by watching TV, and socialising with friends and family on the phone and online, rather than completing your work.
A schedule gives your day structure when you work remotely. It also helps you with time management and keeps you on track throughout the day, which ensures you can accomplish what you set out to do. Some of the high points of an effective daily schedule for a remote worker include:
- Waking up on time
- Getting dressed
- Setting office hours for when you’re most productive
- Creating a checklist and marking items off as you finish them
- Prioritising tasks and planning to get the most pressing tasks done first
- Scheduling breaks and meal time
- Quitting work at the end of your shift
It’s a good idea to structure your days from the very beginning of your work-from-home life. And don’t worry — you still have plenty of freedom and flexibility as a remote worker even with an air-tight schedule in place. For example, waking up on time might mean 11 p.m., if night time is when you’re at your most productive and creative. Taking a break might mean napping in your favourite easy chair for a few minutes, or getting some fresh air on your front porch with a great view.
Being a remote worker can be tricky, especially when you work at home. From pressing household chores to your neighbour popping by for a chat, the number of things that can distract you is endless. It’s also common for people, especially family members, to think you’re always available when you’re at home. You can avoid distractions and stay focused on your work by:
- Creating a quiet space that’s just for work, preferably with a door
- Sharing your daily work schedule with the people in your life so they know not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency
- Setting specific times to check emails, voice messages, and social media
Eating healthy meals and snacks, and choosing food items that make you feel fuller longer, also helps you avoid distractions. After all, hunger can interfere with your productivity. Working away from home, at a location of your choice like a co-working centre, can help you avoid distractions, too. In the end, the best way to avoid distractions and get the most out of your remote work experience is to set aside time for socialising and taking care of personal matters.
Mix Up Your Environment
While it’s important to have a permanent workspace, working alone all the time can make you feel isolated and unmotivated. To feel like you’re part of the working or business world, you might consider changing your physical environment regularly. For example, once a week you might plan to work at your favourite coffee shop or at the library. Changing your environment and seeing new things and faces is a great way to feel refreshed and get inspired.
Even if you’re an introvert, don’t shy away from networking and social events with people in your industry. It’s a small world and you never know who you might meet, whether it’s an old friend or someone who turns out to be a potential client. You might consider:
- Getting involved with your local chamber of commerce — or other business-focused groups — and attending networking and informational events
- Joining active professional groups in your field on websites like LinkedIn, and connecting with people through online discussions and offline events
You can also find networking and social events for professionals across Canada in your field on websites like MeetUp.
Feeling connected as a remote worker also has a lot to do with having meaningful interactions with the people you work with. If you’re a remote employee, it’s important to communicate with your manager and co-workers when you have questions or need someone to hear out your ideas. As an entrepreneur, you’re in control of who you bring into your inner circle. If you have a business partner, virtual assistant, or part-time bookkeeper, you might schedule brief meetings on a regular basis. This helps you get to know more about the people working with you towards a common purpose.
Make Time for Exercise
As someone completely in charge of their own schedule, the last thing you want to do is go from office chair to sofa to bed and back again. The benefits of physical exercise for everyone, including people who work from home, are tremendous. Increased energy and a positive outlook are on the list of the benefits, so it’s a good idea to get active even if you don’t love going to the gym. Some of the fun ways you can get out there and break a sweat during the day include:
- Taking a brisk walk, alone or with your pet, around your neighbourhood
- Doing yoga
- Dancing to your favourite music
- Walking on errands instead of driving — this works great if you live in an urban area
- And of course, going to the gym
It’s a good idea to pencil in your daily workout on your schedule so that you won’t miss it.
Use Tech to Stay Connected
Social media, team and project management software, and more make it easier than ever to stay connected to your team, clients, leaders, and culture. With a smartphone or tablet, you can stay connected whether you’re in the office or on the go. As your career advances or your business grows, some of the technology you can use to stay connected with the people in your work life include:
- Skype and Google Hangouts — These communication tools are great for phone calls and chats with team members and clients, and can be used for job interviews, training, or brainstorming sessions.
- Facebook and Twitter — These social media websites and apps work wonders when it comes to connecting with customers and clients and getting instant feedback about your products and services.
- Upwork — This website helps you find qualified potential members of your team that you can interview by phone or chat through the website, no matter where they are in the world.
- Asana, Trello, Basecamp — These apps make project management easy, allowing you to upload jobs and assign tasks effortlessly while communicating with team members and getting feedback from clients about projects from start to finish.
Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you don’t need a vacation. Like anyone else, you need times where you can completely unplug from work. For this reason, try and schedule real vacations a few times a year. Taking regular vacations gives you those important opportunities to recharge your batteries for the challenges that lie ahead. QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps you as a freelancer, contractor, or sole proprietor track and manage your business on the go. Join Today!