Working remotely is a fine art that can take some time adapting to, especially If you’re used to a busy office environment. Christmas especially, can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to knuckle down, but you can miss out on the festive spirit when you’re working on your lonesome.
Take a strategic approach to working remotely and you can free up more time by striking a work-life balance that suits you and your lifestyle.
Get up and go, go, go
While the temptation to have a lie-in may be great, working from home allows you to use time you’d normally spend sat in traffic getting ahead of the game. Try to rise at a normal time, and you should be able to enjoy an hour or so of undisturbed work while everyone else is fighting rush hour.
Create an inspirational workspace
Working in your living room or kitchen is best avoided, as you’re more likely to succumb to distractions. Set up a bright and airy office in a spare room, and design a space that inspires you to be your best. Christmas decorations are optional: you might like to have a bit of tinsel and a card tree to spur you on and remind you that the Christmas break is just around the corner.
If you’re self-employed or a freelancer, cabin fever can set in pretty quickly and too much time alone can be bad for mental health. Co-working in a shared office space can work wonders for your creativity, especially if you choose a space that attracts like-minded individuals, even if it’s just for one or two days per week.
Alternatively, try working from a local coffee shop on occasion, as many are set up with all the tech required to attract entrepreneurs and start-ups -not to mention that all-important caffeine fix. Not only do these options get you out of the house, but should allow you easy access to the shops for a spot of Christmas shopping.
Never have there been so many distractions in a normal working day. Trivial email threads and social media updates are just two of my personal bugbears. Keep your phone out of reach, or simply turn off notifications like social updates to keep distraction to a minimum. If your attention span is really short, then there’s some brilliant productivity software designed to keep you on track.
There are time-tracking apps such as Focus Booster,* which uses the Pomodoro technique to keep track of time and divide work into intervals, allowing for much-needed breaks. Anything that reduces the need to fill in spreadsheets is a bonus, and apps like this can also help you to shape better working habits.
Catch up with your team
If you work in a team but do so remotely, it’s good to check in with them a couple of times a week to keep on top of things. A reminder that they’re working too might keep you motivated too. Organise regular Skype video calls to share progress and keep your finger on the pulse. And, if you’re working remotely throughout the entire Christmas period, what’s stopping you from doing some team bonding like Secret Santa, but digitally?
Get out and about
One of the many benefits of remote working is the freedom to manage your own time to your advantage. If you’ve started early, then there’s nothing stopping you from going for a run, hitting the gym or even meeting up with a friend for coffee. Exercise and a bit of away time from your desk will allow you to return refreshed and more able to focus on your remaining duties.
About the author: Sadie Sharp is the owner of management consultancy firm C Squared, and knows all about the pitfalls of remote working.
This article was written in partnership with Watchshop as part of their What Makes You Tick? – campaign.