How to stay accountable to yourself in a remote environment
For many people, working from home or their favorite coffee place sounds like a dream, a life’s accomplishment that seems so distant and unreachable. For others, the fear of not being able to execute without the “pressure” of traditional offices, is what holds them back. Nowadays, working from home is not just a dream but a reality. However, the concern about productivity is what blocks a lot of people from going down this road.
Dealing with distractions
When they sell you the idea of working from home, freedom is a word often used. Yes, your sense of freedom and the extra time you save from commuting to work is incredible. However, this new “freedom” also comes with many distractions. The fact that our home offices are so close to our well… home, means that everything around us is an invitation to cut productivity.
What we need to keep in mind is the protection of our work time. It’s important to set up a specific place for our work-related tasks that is different from our “fun, relaxing time.” This way, from routine and repetition, our mind will put us in the right state for focus and work mentality, when needed.
A different dynamic from brick and mortar offices
One of the biggest differences in a remote office is that the classic 9–5 hours not always apply — and I don’t think they should. With the freedom to have offices a few steps away, we should adapt our work-time to when we have the most energy, fewer distractions around us, and with proper breaks.
I know people who love to start working at 5 am and end the day early in the afternoon. Others see the end of the day (or evening) as their most productive time.
A great outcome that home offices bring is the self-reflection we need to do every day to understand better who we are and how we can be better.
Depending on where the rest of your team is based, changing the time you’re available may be an option to deal with different time-zones. At the same time, we shouldn’t think of work hours as straight eight-hour sessions. If you stop to think about your day, the time you’re most productive is probably the time when there isn’t anyone in the office, no distractions, just you and your responsibilities. The freedom you gain from this way of work also allows you to take some breaks during the day, refresh your thoughts, and get back later.
If you want an example, by the time I’m writing this article, I’m doing it in the morning, before my team — that are a few hours behind — is awake, so I know I’m in a distraction/requests-free zone. After working on this, I’m going for a run to put my thoughts in place and prepare myself for the rest of my workday.
See? I understand when I can be at my best and what I need to do to make it happen. I define my work time around that instead of forcing a “traditional schedule.”
Staying on track
The best way to keep yourself accountable is to rely on people around you. Home offices can be solitary spaces, especially if you’re focused on a task that doesn’t require you to engage with others daily. Still, make sure to share with your colleagues what you’re trying to accomplish and use them to keep you accountable.
Be transparent and open with your family, as well. Let them understand when you need “alone time” to complete some hard tasks but ask them to point out when you may be “overworking.” This brings us to the last point I want to talk about…
Protecting your greatest asset: you
One of the biggest backlashes of working from home is that we do this to have more freedom, but it’s easy to work a lot more then we would do in a traditional work environment — especially if you’re a business owner. Without a strict structure of time and because we are so close to work (usually it’s on our pockets?), we can easily work extra hours, forgetting to take time to preserve our minds and body.
It’s necessary to find time during the day to go for a walk, to exercise, and just see the world around us. We can only do what we do because of our brains, so we need to preserve it to keep doing our best work. Getting a great night of sleep is extremely important, as well. Never change your sleep hours for work hours. A well-rested mind is capable of solving problems a lot easier and faster than a stressed one.
Remember that you are responsible for the quality and efficiency of the work you put out. If you don’t give margin for yourself to “recover” and build a healthy mind and body, there’s no work-environment that will save you.
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