If you’ve been wondering what it’s like to work remotely, you’re in the right place. I’m about to bust out some “remote insider” truth up in here! I’ve worked remotely for the past thirteen years. I always joke that I was working remotely before remote work was cool.
Remember what the world looked like before Covid? Almost everyone still had to physically get in a car and drive to work! Right? It just took a not-so-small pandemic for businesses everywhere to figure out how their teams could work from home. And…this was one of those decisions that have proven to be hard to reverse. For those of us in the tech world, remote work has been available for many years. Now, the rest of the world is figuring it out, too. So, I thought it was a good time to give you my top three truths about working remotely in case you’re considering it.
As I was running back through my mind and thinking about the things I needed to tell you on this subject, there were three things that rose to the top of the list. They are: Truth #1 – You must create a workspace that works. Truth #2 – You must make use of tools that increase your productivity. Truth #3 – You must be the boss of your time. Let’s get into it!
Truth #1: Creating a Workspace That Works
When you set up a space to work remotely, there are several things to consider. You’ll be spending a lot of time in the space, so you’ll want it to be comfortable. First things first, you will need a good desktop space and a comfortable chair. Next, try to locate your workspace in an area that’s as quiet as possible. This one can sometimes be tricky if you have a house that’s busy, but just find the quietest corner you can!
You’ll also want to add several things to your workspace to make it both a place you enjoy being and a space that is set up for ultimate productivity. There are twelve essential points to cover here to pull this all together. I put together a guide that covers them all and includes a handy dandy checklist for you as well. You can download the guide for free with the link below.
Once you’ve addressed everything on that list, you’ll have a workspace that gives you joy every time you see it and is fun to work in! Enjoy it!
Truth #2: Use Tools That Increase Productivity
I’ve tried a lot of different productivity tools and methods over the years. (I’m kinda in love with them.) Here are a few things that I highly recommend for remote work. The first is…hear me yelling this…if you’re working on a laptop, get a large monitor and wireless keyboard/mouse set. You’re gonna have to trust me on this. It is life-changing. You’ll be shocked at how much more you can get done and it’s just better on your body not to be staring down at a laptop all.day.long. Most companies will supply you with a laptop, but if they don’t offer a monitor just go get one. Trust me.
The second thing I’d recommend is using a tool called FancyZones. FancyZones allows you to create separate windows on your monitor and reduces the need for multiple monitors if you don’t have or don’t want two monitors. To get FancyZones, you’ll need to download an app called PowerToys. It’s completely free. Just do a search for PowerToys and you’ll find it. Once you’ve downloaded and launched PowerToys, you’ll see FancyZones in the app. It’s super easy and walks you through the setup. Highly recommend!
I also love Microsoft OneNote. If you aren’t using it already, you may have it and not even know it. It normally comes with the Microsoft Office suite of applications. It is so cool. It basically allows you to create digital notebooks with tabs inside and then pages inside each tab. If you’re an old school lover of school supplies like me, you’ll love this tool! It keeps me from printing mountains of pages that I then have to file in mountains of file folders…you get it. Now, I print directly to OneNote for all the things I need to file for handy reference and it’s much, much handier than the old paper/file folder method! Try it out and see what you think! The things you can do within the app are almost limitless.
Truth #3: Be the Boss of Your Time
When you work remotely (which most often means from home), you are faced with new challenges. Let’s call them competitors for your time. For example, it’s super easy to put on a load of laundry to do its thing while you work. It takes less than a minute to throw in the clothes and start it rolling. Then back to work you go. Win! I’m all about that.
Anything we can do that allows us to tackle the bajillion jobs we all have is great…as long as it doesn’t pull you away from your work for too long. If you can do it in 5 minutes or under, go for it! Here’s why we need to put a limit on that. When you are working from home it is so easy to blur the line between work life and home life. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up working at all hours of the day (and maybe night) because it’s just “there” and you can.
You need to give yourself a break from work, even if your desk is sitting in your living room, just as you would if you packed up and left your office to drive home for the day. Trust me, I’ve fallen into the trap of that a few times over my remote career and it will lead to burnout faster than you can shake a stick at it. Mmhmm that’s some Texas talk for ya right there!
I love to use all the Google Calendar integrations to keep my work and personal calendars together all in one spot. I also highly recommend Google Keep for creating digital post-it notes (gone are the days I had multi-colored post-its all over the edges of my monitor!), and Google Tasks is an amazing tool for jotting down all the to-dos that are running through your head. Get them out of your head, add them to your Google Task List and you can even pull them over from the task list to your calendar with one smooth click and drag! Just choose some calendaring tools that you like and use them. Oh, also try not to eat lunch at your computer. Get up and away for a few minutes. Pssst…I’m still working on that one.
There you have it. My top three truths (rules) about working remotely. Remote work is great and truly makes me happier than…hmmm boy could I insert a few Texas phrases right there, but I’ll save you from it! Anyway, it’s great and I hope you take advantage of it if you’re given the opportunity. Just mind the rules!
Here’s the link again to Download the Setting Up Your Workspace Guide.