Isn’t it great to work from home? You set your schedule, you do not waste time on the go, you have no bosses or superiors, you can control distractions and interruptions and you can reconcile your work, personal and family life. Is it really as pretty as they paint it? Can you get ahead with your work and the house, the children, take care of your relationship, and have time for yourself?
In this post, I am not going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of being a freelancer and working outside the office. Today I present some strategies that have worked for me to increase personal productivity if you are a freelancer or working remotely.
Remote working or work from home has not finished starting in most of the countries and people are already talking about “smart working”. You can call it remote work, telecommuting, or work from home, but do you have productivity strategies to help you get ahead with your work and your personal life?
When you start an activity from home you realize that the context is totally different from what you can find in the office of a company or corporation. In a company or organization, you spend most of your time in a work or professional atmosphere. However, at home other scenarios are mixed. You must work and, sometimes, you must combine it with housework, family, and your relationship with your partner.
So how can you get ahead with your job if you have to put washing machines, take your children to extracurricular activities, and want to do a little sport every day? I am going to present Some Employee Engagement Ideas for Remote Working Team that are working for me in my day today. They are personal productivity techniques very similar to those applied in companies but adapted to the freelancer, self-employed, or entrepreneurial world. In short, how to increase the personal productivity of “smart workers”.
1. Make a strategy for your free time
Have I surprised you? You are right. The first thing I do is plan my Free time. In other words, what are the long weekends that I am going to take, vacations, what days I am going to train, etc?
In this way, planning in advance, I manage my time dedicated to working around breaks and not the other way around. Having free time makes you more relaxed, rested, and more productive afterward. That’s how I let everyone else know in advance and I try to fulfill my tasks to get to those moments of Free time. When the holidays approach, what do you usually speed up to close pending matters? Having an off time commitment on the horizon helps you be more effective.
It was one of my main goals when starting my solo career. Work less and have more free time. It’s re-creative time
2. Make a strategy for your working days
Once the leisure moments are blocked, we go to the next planning unit: workdays. I tell you about my weekly workday. I already know that it is difficult to apply, especially if you work with deadlines for your projects, but it is for you to get an idea and adapt it to your circumstances.
When I do my planning for the week I spread the workload over 4 days. Yes really. I plan as if I only have four days available. In fact, on Wednesday I take it more relaxed or I don’t work. And, of course, on weekends I try not to go near the computer.
Just because you plan it doesn’t mean it always works out the way I intended. But it is not the same to have 16 hours a week in your schedule than 20 hours a week. Later I will tell you why I speak 20 hours a week and not 40 or more, which is the normal working day.
3. Chop off your daily routine into a small blocks
In the previous point, I have told you that I use it as a strategy to plan 4 days a week. Of each day I usually plan 4 hours to work. No more no less. That makes a total of 16 hours a week. If you realize I tell you about planned hours. Of course, I work a few more hours. Being realistic I can’t count 8 hours a day. At some point in the day, I have to go shopping, cook, put in, or pick up a washing machine, take a family phone call, take the children to train… Therefore, it would not make sense to plan my day with 8 hours available. In principle, it only has 4 hours or less. And if you then have more, the better.
4. Make deadlined for your task
So with these 16 planned hours, I have to organize my workload. I mean, I have to carry out everything important. What is essential is that you set a deadline or due date for each of the tasks and projects. In this way, you will make the most of your time by not expanding tasks to infinity and beyond.
We already have our programming done. Remember that you must defend these times. These 16 hours are “armored”. In those 16 hours, nothing and nobody can distract us. We cannot get up from the chair. Or chat with friends. Forget about looking at social media. Those hours are our “protected”. Nothing can alter those hours of work. This is where we concentrate all our energy and creativity.
If you want to go from programming 16 to 20 hours I leave it to your account and risk. I do not recommend it because it is already difficult to control those 16 hours, so if I had to protect 20 hours of my week I do not know if I would do it well.
In this planning, we must take into account our list of pending tasks. We must do a daily review of the list of pending tasks to adjust the schedule if necessary and also a weekly review to incorporate new projects and tasks.
5. Divide your task into small portions and take actions accordingly
Writing a post requires several actions. Choose the central theme, think the main ideas, search for related images, prepare a draft, check the hyperlinks, review the draft, edit a post on the website, publish a post and spread on social networks.
I guess with this example it will be clear to you that a task can be broken down into several actions. Well, that is going to be our work unit. Not the tasks, the actions.
At the time of transferring to my agenda the planning of my 4 hours of work, I would not say: “Write a post on personal productivity for freelancers” 4 hours.
What I do is spend 30 minutes to choose the central theme and the title, 30 minutes to think the main ideas. 1 hour for related images. 2 hours for the draft. Total, 4 hours.
This makes it more difficult to interrupt tasks. Then I will show you the Pomodoro technique that allows me to stay focused and protect those blocks of time.
6. Make a to-do list
I’ve already told you in a previous post about the power of the list of pending tasks / actions.
Once I have the tasks divided into actions, the next step is to store everything in a single list. That central list will contain all of our pending work. EVERYTHING. I refer to those ideas, projects, tasks, or actions that are not finalized or that are generated. From any field. Not only from the professional sphere.
If I have to change the wheels to the car, I put it on the list. That I have to take my son to a birthday, I put it on the list. That you have to call a customer, to the list. An invoice pending transfer to the agency? Exactly, to the list. I think you already caught the mechanism.
I try to get everything out of my head. My memory is very fragile and I don’t want, while preparing a productivity audit for a client, to be thinking that I have to change the wheels before the summer holidays. So it all goes to my to-do list. I need the head to be creative, not to store. I don’t want to take up RAM.
7. Eliminate Distractions
This is what works. If you want to be productive working from home, you should avoid everything that takes you away from your focus. In an office in a company, distractions can come from colleagues, unforeseen meetings, emergencies assigned by the boss, etc.
At home it is different. The thieves of time are others. For example, a household chore, going out to manage a job time, caring for a family member, etc.
8. Manage pending tasks
Basically it’s managing your to-do list based on criteria. Does that pending task require action on your part or not? It is important to know if you can delegate it. You don’t need to be in the “Do It Yourself” mode at all times. You also don’t need subordinates to delegate. Look for collaborators or specialists. Most of us have an agency or advisory to take us tax issues. In my case, I have the support of the web with Ants in the Cloud. At first, I designed and managed the page myself, but every time there was a technical difficulty, I wasted up to a week of my time solving it. So I went to web design specialists.
Once I have removed the actions that I can delegate, I group those actions by context. This strategy is very important to be more effective.
If throughout your workday (which I remind you is 4 hours or less) you have to make calls, send emails and write a budget. Don’t do it by improvising and jumping from one to the other. Group them.
For example, if I have to call several clients and suppliers, what I do is allocate half an hour (of those 4 that I have scheduled) to make the calls. This allows me not to interrupt other tasks, to be in “flow” or “in the zone” and avoids multitasking.
Once the calls are finished, I will allocate another block of time to do work on the computer. For example, over the next hour, I’m going to write a new blog post.
Anyways, these are the most effective work from home techniques which I follow to increase productivity when working from home, and it really helped me out. Hope it will really help you like it did wonders for me.