It was when I reached four years of working at a publishing company that I negotiated for a remote work arrangement. It was the book The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (@tferriss) that greatly influenced how I view work. By applying the principles in his book, I was granted a remote work arrangement by my former employer.
The cubicle isn’t the only place where productivity happens. I’ve tried working in coffee shops, coworking spaces, in my home office, and I could say that productivity isn’t location-dependent. What matters is how you keep your creative juices flowing.
For those who dream of working remotely, I have some tips for you.
- Protect your daily routine as if your life depended on it. Working from home or working remotely will expose you to different distractions on a daily basis. It sounds draconian, but you need to stick to your daily schedule by using a reliable app. In my case, I use Nozbe for managing my to-do list.
- Put the Pomodoro Technique into practice. This technique works best for me when I use my wristwatch with a countdown timer set at 25 minutes which is the equivalent of one pomodoro cycle. When the timer sets off the alarm, I take a 5-minute break or I continue working on the task until I complete 4 pomodoro cycles then take a 30-minute break.
- Set aside time for deep work. Cal Newport defines deep work as “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” Writing involves deep work. So does brainstorming. As well as accounting, among others. Ideally, schedule a day of the week when you’re going to do deep work (e.g. every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). For me I have adapted a much more flexible approach to deep work. Like the classic Pavlovian stimulus-response strategy, I associate deep work with a thing or place such as coffee shops for writing, coffee for solo brainstorming, etc.
- Eat on time and make time for exercise. It’s easy to neglect your health when you’re all deep work at the expense of eating on time and doing exercise. Of course, meal-time should be a basic part of your daily routine. It’s a habit that should not be listed in your productivity app, because without nutrition, there’s no energy to manage at all. And how can you exercise without energy? And how can you boost your energy without exercise? You already know the answers.
- Wage war against perfectionism. How many times do you proofread your email before hitting the send button? How many times do you rehearse before pitching your idea to your employer? How many times do you analyze your report before submitting them to your immediate superior? If you’re that type of person who’s got used to overdoing tasks than necessary then you might be a perfectionist.
- Get obsessed with systems and processes. Your daily routine involves systems and processes. You can achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself by following certain systems or processes of doing tasks. Let’s take the goal of writing a book as an example. By saying that you’ll publish your book by the end of the year seems like an overwhelming goal to accomplish. By having a book writing system or process in order, the goal of writing a book by the end of the year becomes more manageable. Breaking down topics to write based on your outline lets you focus on one task at a time. Do this on schedule and you’ll find writing a book a lot easier than just stating your need to publish a book at the end of the year without a dependable writing strategy.
If you have the proper tools and techniques, systems, and processes of doing tasks you have on your plate, working remotely becomes more enjoyable by avoiding distractions as many as you can. There’s a risk to everything either your work remotely or spend your work hours in a cubicle. But what’s important is to follow your intuition. If you think you’ll be more productive working in a cubicle then so be it. If you think you can accomplish your tasks by working remotely then by all means do it. The corporate world has been quick to adapt when it comes to remote work. It’s just up to you to prove that you’ll be at your most productive state if granted to work remotely.
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