In 2020 companies around the globe rolled out mandatory remote working or work from home policies in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. And now many people want to keep remote working for the foreseeable future.
Welcome to the digital workplace life, rest of the world!
Are you concerned with being efficient and effective while traveling and remote working for the next year or even decade? Worried about work-life balance doing remote work?
Don’t worry, we’ve already made all the mistakes for you!
Read on to see our three tips on remote working from full time digital nomads.
Our Experience with Working from Home and Remote Working
We basically work from ‘home’ full time.
When we became full-time digital nomads a lot of our friends thought we were crazy. Travel full time? Work remote from our laptops full time?
Today we live in AirBnbs and other short term rentals at least 11 months out of the year.
We’ve learned a lot about working from home as digital nomads. And are happy to share our wisdom and experience.
Here are our three tips on remote working to stay focused, productive and healthy:
- Tip #1: Set Boundaries
- Tip #2: Establish a Routine and Stick to It
- Tip #3: Work Toward Deliverables to Stay Focused
Remote Work Tip #1: Set Boundaries
Even with a traditional job, for most people finding work-life balance is a struggle.
But working from home completely blurs the line between work and life!
That’s why the most important thing to do when you work from home is set boundaries.
If you don’t define the boundaries between work and life you may go a little crazy.
But how do you set work-life boundaries while working from home?
Be Hyper Aware of What is an Appropriate Work-Life Balance
When I first started working from home, I definitely blew up my work-life balance.
I would wake up in the morning and start working. Then get lunch. Then work some more in the afternoon. Then have dinner. Then work some more.
Six or seven days a week!
I told myself it was fine. That there would be some days where I barely worked at all, so it would all balance out. But that’s not how it works.
I soon found that I was working all the time but not accomplishing as much as I should be given all the hours I was putting in. The reason behind my diminishing productivity was the effort-recovery model. This model emphasizes that recovery is essential after a period of extended effort. Insufficient recovery can result in diminished performance. Rest provides the fuel necessary for hard work.
Plus I was working all the time and that made both me and Lisa grumpy.
Other people have the opposite problem. They find it hard to focus on work when there is dirty laundry in the hamper or a dog who would love to take a walk. They feel totally unable to focus on work for very long while working from home.
Be Mindful and Take Care of Your Mind, Body and Spirit
As for me, I was getting so burned out that I felt compelled to take a work detox (4 straight days with no work at all). And then I took a far more mindful approach to working from home.
I thought about what it is about working so hard that makes me happy. In my case, a sense of accomplishment, hitting a goal or rocking a KPI. And then I thought hard about what else makes me truly happy in life but also lifts my spirit. For me, travel, exploring new places and meeting and interacting with people.
Then I made a commitment to balance those two so that I could feed both my mind and my spirit.
And I also made a commitment to keep my body well fed and cared for. We recommitted to our travel keto diet, started taking long walks and we took up swimming laps.
The key here is finding your own work-life balance and then staying hyper-aware of it so it doesn’t get out of kilter!
Set Other Boundaries and Expectations
Taking care of yourself means setting yourself up for success. Here are a few more way to set boundaries and expectations for working from home:
- Carve out your virtual office. For Lisa and me it’s a spot on the couch. For you it might be the spare bedroom, a den or the dining room table. Whatever is most comfortable for you, make that your ‘work spot’ and get in the habit of leaving your work stuff there. Co-workings are also a great option – just don’t show up in a t-shirt and underwear!
- Set expectations with others in your space. If you have children around while you’re working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during work time. And divide up domestic labor like taking care of pets needs. Save things like dishes and laundry for the evening or the weekend.
- Get outside at least once a day. Office workers almost always leave the building at least once during the workday. You should too!
- Be social! Collaboration is important for work. Chatting is good for the soul. Use online collaboration and social media to maintain socialization during your work from home adventure. Video conferencing is wonderful for seeing friendly faces. If you’re feeling REALLY collaborative (and non-Millennial) you could even call your coworker or boss to chat or work through an issue.
It wasn’t easy to find work-life balance working from anywhere as a digital nomad. Hopefully these suggestions help.
But maintaining that work-life balance is even harder.
We learned that there is only one way to keep our work and life in balance while working from home: establish a routine…and stick to it!
Remote Working Tip #2: Establish a Routine…and Stick to It
This is so obvious I kind of kicked myself for not realizing it from day one of working from home.
Without a routine that you stick to, you’ll either never stop working or, worse, never start.
After all, when I worked in an office I had a routine: wake up, shower, commute, arrive at work all stressed out from my commute, chat with coworkers while getting a cup of caffeine, sit down and check emails and then dive into my projects. Take a walk to get lunch around 1pm. Spend afternoons in meetings or on calls.
A work from home routine is different. First of all, on the upside, there’s not necessarily a morning shower and definitely no stressful commute to work. On the downside there is no friendly chat with coworkers over caffeine. But after that you still need a routine.
Otherwise you’ll fall into the trap I did: work all the time, lose productivity, feel like you need to work more, get even less productive.
Or you’ll find a million reasons to not get your work done. Laundry, walking the dog, The Price is Right, staring out the window, starting to cook dinner at 3pm. With no boss staring at you from across the room you may need a routine just to stay productive!
Either way, the simple solution is to create a daily routine…and stick to it.
You can click on that link for more details but it looked like this:
- 10am: Wake up and have a travel keto breakfast
- 10:30am-2pm: Heads down work drinking bulletproof coffee or tea
- 2pm: Lunch, collaboration and conversation
- 3pm-5pm: Heads down work
- 5pm: Work out and relax at the pool
- 7pm: Dinner, evening activities
- 9 or 10pm: Chill time: watch TV, drink wine, read a book or sometimes sneak in a little work
- 1am: Go to bed
We worked, we collaborated, we relaxed and we exercised and we ate healthy. Every day.
And we’ve established a similar routine everywhere we have traveled. It really keeps us both balanced in mind, body and spirit and helps us achieve a sustainable work-life balance while working from home.
Now…you may have noticed that we don’t work typical 9-5 hours. And we almost never work a full 8 hours in any given day anymore.
Which raises an important question: how do you know if you are getting as much done as you should be while working from home?
Remote Working Tip #3: Work Toward Deliverables to Stay Focused
That leads us to tip 3: work toward deliverable goals rather than hourly goals in order to stay focused and make sure you are providing value as work from home employee.
Value is created by the things we accomplish, not the amount of time we spend on them.
The best thing you can do while working from home is setting clear expectations with your boss (even if your boss is yourself) about what you are going to accomplish.
If your boss wants 10 TPS reports done a day, then it really doesn’t matter if you get those done in 6 or 10 hours. You just need to get 10 TPS reports done a day!
And that applies to any task, however simple or complicated.
So if your boss wants you to work 8 hours a day filling out TPS reports, ask her how many you need to do a day. If she answers ‘as many as you can’ then see how many you can do in a day for a few days. Average that then make that your goal each day.
That way no matter how much or little you FEEL like you need to work from home, you’ll have a number you need to hit each day. And that number takes precedence over watching The Price is Right, feeling like you need to work all night, or anything in between.
This may seem like an oversimplification, but it can translate to just about any task.
For me, I set a goal of writing two blog posts per week. Then I started doing some consulting and reduced that to one blog post every other week. On the consulting side I set firm expectations with clients and provide flat-rate deliverables-based pricing so that I’m not a slave to the clock.
The bottom line is that when you work from home it’s easy to lose track of the amount of time you’ve worked, procrastinated or both. So you want to focus on deliverables so you don’t overwork nor underwork.
Thinking about starting a side hustle while working from home? How about starting a blog!? We strongly recommend you check out the Blogging Fast Lane Accelerator course! Using it, we turned Ready Jet Roam into a great side hustle!
Bottom Line – 3 Recommendations on Working from Home
The idea of working from home can be a little scary.
And it does take some effort to maintain work-life balance in a work from home situation.
But by following these recommendations you’ll find that you can be productive but not over-work. You can take care of your work responsibilities without falling into the trap of working all the time.
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