Most of us know what 9-5 jobs are like. We’ve had the experience or someone close to us has. The monotonous ritual of waking early to get to the office, the commute, traffic, meetings, and everything else that takes time away from you doing real work and using your time (life) your way.
Working remotely, on the other hand, is new and exciting. It’s everything 9-5s are not, but still a gray area as most people, especially here in Africa, do not have experience or exposure to it, and thus consider it a risky move.
With remote working and freelancing (working independently), you are neither an entrepreneur or a conventional employee.
You bear equal parts of freedom and responsibility, and will have to continuously learn, make mistakes and figure out things on your own, whilst at the same time, building a trustworthy reputation that keeps you fed.
As enticing or nerve-racking as this sounds, working independently is a wonderful way of life; and once you get used to it, may never go back to traditional work, unless given a really attractive offer.
Working remotely, however, makes it easy to fall into the habit of being alone. You may lose social skills and social capital you have built over the years.
Without the intentional decision and action to socialize, you may become like me (a hermit), which is no good. You know why? Because you need relationships to build credibility, hear of new offers, learn, feel, create, live, and provide more value to your clients.
Also, you may find it hard to disconnect between work and home hours and become a workaholic without noticing, as there is almost always something to be done if you want to keep your friends especially happy.
We can overcome these challenges by adopting good practices. Below are 7 tactics you can implement now to enjoy the benefits of your remote work experience.
1. Find Professionalism, Even In the Comfort of Your Home
It is not easy trying to separate work from the comfort of being home, especially when your work station (laptop) is just a few steps away from the TV, the fridge, and all the other distractions. It can become exhausting to actively keep your mind on work and not dives into doing your laundry or watching TV shows.
Slipping into this habit can ruin your chances at remote work success because you end up not doing good work, missing deadlines, or worse doing no work at all.
A good way to manage these environmental distractions and unproductive phases is to put together a loose schedule and stick to it. You can write or code in the morning, answer emails and check social media at noon, and send out new proposals in the evening.
Ensure to add in break times, in order to get away from work mode and rejuvenate. Even in regular office environments, there are often breaks so a scheduled break here and there should not be something you feel guilty about.
2. Occasionally Switch Up Your Workstation
To feel like you’re still part of a society and the world at large, select days when you work outside your home.
You could try working in a coffee shop or co-working space, and see what works for you. Changing your work environment boosts your productivity and enhances creativity and social skills.
Don’t get yourself tied to one location. Isolation and lack of face-to-face interactions can make you lose your mind…. slowly.
3. Study Yourself; Look Out for What Works Best For You
Observe your working habits; times when you’re most productive, sitting positions that allow you to concentrate longer, foods that make you energetic, and a variety of other things.
One mistake you can make as a freelancer is to try and simulate the office working environment. If that is productive for you, this is fine. But for most people, it isn’t. You are location-flexible and have the opportunity to experiment with different working styles, locations and timing. Seize the opportunity!
The goal is not to “appear” productive, as it can be in a normal office environment. Your goal is to actually be productive and focus on results.
What makes that happen is different for most of us. So take a chance and create your unique productive strategies.
4. Communication and Documentation
In an office space, the people around you are a form of a resource. You can walk up to the next desk or cubicle, and ask for clarification on subjects troubling you. People who inhabit our reality have a way of illuminating hidden points of view when our perspective is limited.
One practice that can benefit remote workers and freelancers is intentional communication and effective documentation. Intentional communication means going into each work conversation with clear agenda shared with other participants beforehand, spotting gaps of miscommunication, and making sure you transmit only the correct information the team needs.
Real-time documentation supports this. It is necessary so that all members of a project and the clients involved can have easily access and assess work progress with delay or bottlenecks.
5. Find Joy in Reviewing Your Completed Projects
As a freelancer, remote or independent worker, there should be no limit or end to your growth, regardless of your field.
A surefire way to get better, both at what you do and with your review process is to conduct assessments after each project is completed.
You can go over the aspects of the project that worked beat, lacked coherence, or posed problems reducing the overall quality of the work.
Reviewing your work often will have a direct effect on your learning curve, growth, and long term success.
6. Put in Place a System of Accountability
Working independently means that you do not have a supervisor hovering over you to make sure you don’t get lost in cat videos on YouTube.
You are more likely to be distracted when you’re answerable to yourself and by yourself most times. So monitor your time and put proven systems in place.
Get a To-Do List in whatever format that works best for you: pen and paper or a mobile app, and check tasks off as soon as you complete them. You get a dopamine hit every time you check a task off your list.
Another thing you can do is get team collaboration apps like Trello and Asana. Your client, team and partners you work with will be easily updated on the progress of the project without having to send emails back and forth.
7. Monitor Your Physical And Mental Health
The effects of remote work and isolation for days can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health. Being indoors for long periods of time diminishes the desire to go out even more.
This is unhealthy and can impact your mental health, especially now when depression and anxiety are “moods.”
Fixing in time to go for walks, feel the sun, stretch, and maybe even do some cardio boosts your efficiency and attitude, and inherently make you more productive and wealthy.
Health is wealth. Make sure to put this in perspective. An active routine also ensures that your life doesn’t revolve around your work and takes some of the pressure off.
Think these tips help? They have sure helped us! Share yours in the comments below.
Feature photo by @weekofsatudays.