I remember my first day working from home. I woke up at 8:30am, ate breakfast at 9am, slothed around watching daytime tv until around noon when I ate lunch, slothed some more, and finally started to prepare for my first student of the day. I was an online tutor, and the nature of my work placed the majority of my work hours between 3pm-10pm EST because that was the time students would be out of school. So, I would just pass the time until I had to work.. I’d pass time on the couch, pass time scrolling on social media, pass time watching trash tv, and doing other non purposeful activities. Unfortunately,I did this everyday for far too long.
While I had goals to accomplish more, my new-found freedom proved to be a little too much for me to handle. I relished in my new schedule and freedom, and took full advantage of the ability to not do anything.
Thinking back on my old work from home habits makes me shake my head in disappointment. Oh, how much more I could’ve accomplished all those days when I was doing nothing! But you live and you learn.
Thankfully, those days are long behind me. I’ve since come up with rules that I live by to ensure my productivity and success working remotely. All of my remote work rules relate to structure – something I was ready to throw out completely when I resigned from my traditional job. But structure is something no remote worker can avoid if the goal is to work from home long term. It also requires A LOT of discipline, too, to maintain structure (because no one will make you; it’s a personal aspiration.)
So here are my rules for working remotely. Perhaps you can give them a try for a week, and report back how they worked out
Rule #1: Start the week off with a planning session.
I typically do this on Sunday afternoons. My routine on Sundays is go to church, go to the grocery store, plan the week, then cook. If for some reason I don’t plan the week ahead on Sunday, it happens early Monday morning. No matter what, I know everything that’s supposed to happen that week ahead of time. Planning allows me to know the direction I’m going that week so that I’m not moving along aimlessly day-to-day, but with intention. It also allows me to give my team clear directions during our weekly team meetings. Going into my week this way has helped me be more productive in my business and allows me time to schedule what must happen.
Rule #2: Wake up early
I wake up between 6:30am-7am EST. That’s late for some people, but it works for me because I go to bed kinda late. I’ve found getting up early and getting my day started right away helps me stay focused and accomplish more.
Rule #3: Keep the TV off
Haha, remember when I said I watched daytime tv? Not anymore. I keep my tv off. In fact, I used to have a tv in my office, but I removed it because it was collecting dust once I implemented this rule. TV makes me lose my focus and watching it during the work day makes me feel lazy. Plus, it’s something I can do without until after work or on the weekends. I will say, I do listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and music on my laptop while I work. Those actually keep me focused.
Rule #4: Have goals and check-in regularly
I make time during my weekly planning session to set goals for the month, week, and day. Not every planning session produces a new goal because many of them are long term, but I always check in on my goals while planning. I never stop thinking about them, actually. I’ve found that as long as I take time weekly to set and access my goals, I have a good chance at reaching them.
Rule #5: Save the fun
I forgo leisurely activities during the work week such as shopping at the mall, browsing stores, playing video games, and any other hobby-like activities. Some weeks, I may do those things at the end of my work day. Other weeks, I’ll wait until the weekend. But no matter what, I don’t have ‘fun’ during traditional work hours.
Rule #6: Workout
It’s more important than ever to workout now that I work remotely. I know I’m not doing a lot of moving because my office is in my home. I sit for long periods of time, which I know can develop blood clots, and those are dangerous. I try to work out 3-4 times a week. Honestly, this is something I struggle doing consistently. To help myself, I recently got a subscription service for a workout program I enjoy doing. So, even on the days when it rains and I don’t feel like getting out, I still can workout. It’s going pretty well and I feel more energetic.
Those are my rules for working remotely. It’d be nice to say I started off working from home doing all of these, but as I mentioned, my habits were bad. It was only after getting tired of not making progress and falling into a rut with my routine, that I took the steps to figure out those rules for myself. Whether you find yourself in a rut or you enjoy your current remote work routine, I encourage you to give them a try. I want to know if they work for you, too.