When working remotely, the unstructured nature of your work environment can make it a struggle to get stuff done. Distractions like food, laundry, and television can throw your schedule into complete disarray, leading to rushed project work, unmet deadlines, a poor work-life balance, and more.
There’s no shortage of challenges that can stop you from staying productive. But with a few easy-to-implement strategies, you can stay on track, get everything done on time, and have a lot of fun doing it. Here are some ways that you can boost your productivity without working yourself to death.
Set Time Constraints on Your Tasks
When you give yourself too much unstructured time for your work, a strange thing happens: Tasks that are supposed to be simple and straightforward quickly become infinitely complex and too difficult to complete.
In other words, a task will expand to fill the time allotted for it.
The more time you give yourself to complete a task, the more likely you are to second-guess your choices, do additional research and background work that isn’t entirely necessary, and invest more time into the task than is necessary – time that would be better spent on another task.
Instead, set a timer whenever you start a new task, and allow yourself only the amount of time you think it’ll take to complete the task. If you have to write a blog post, for instance, only allow yourself an hour to write it. Time constraints force you to focus on the essentials of the project and ignore unimportant elements.
Write Down Competing Priorities
When you’re working on a project, it’s very common for other priorities to jump into your head without warning and try to derail you. Whether it’s taking out the trash, walking the dog, or getting a start on a different client project than the one you should be handling, competing priorities can easily take you off course. It’s tempting to justify these things as “necessary evils”, especially if you’re in the middle of an eat the frog project.
So how do you prevent productive distractions from taking you off course? Simple: Write them down. Recording these tasks on a sheet of paper prevents them from derailing you because once they’re written down, you can tackle them any time. There’s no longer a need to complete these tasks “now, while it’s still in my head.”
Work Shorter Days for Better Results
Our economy is digital, but in many cases, our work practices are not.
The 8-hour workday itself is a vestige of an era when most work happened on farms and in factories, when we earned our wages with brawn rather than brains. Its originator, Henry Ford, capped employee workdays at 8 hours when he saw that working 10-12 hours was causing employees to commit more errors and have more workplace accidents, which led to expensive repair and compensation bills for Ford.
But in the knowledge economy, the 8-hour day makes no sense – especially when you’re working remotely.
Many companies that rely on knowledge workers are now implementing 5-hour workdays. Tower Paddle Boards CEO Stephan Aarstol moved his staff to a 5-hour workday (without cutting pay) several years ago, and Tower became the fastest-growing private company in San Diego. Tower’s move to shorter workdays boosted the company’s revenue by 40%. Each of Aarstol’s team members is now generating $1 million in revenue for Tower, and Aarstol reports that his employees are happier with the new hours.
The Tower story is proof that your productivity isn’t necessarily tied to the number of hours you work. Rather than spending 8 hours a day in the office and accomplishing only 3 hours of actual work, try scheduling a shorter workday and committing to meaningful work during your office hours.
When you’re working remotely, it’s easy to stay productive, provided that you implement the right strategies. Remote workers: What are your tricks and methods for prioritizing tasks, getting your stuff done on time, and still making time to have a life outside your work?