Transitioning from a traditional office-based job, to becoming a home-based digital entrepreneur and working remotely, is many people’s idea of a dream come true.
When you are able to earn your living from home – or from whatever other location works for you – you are able to free yourself from the cycle of office politics, the annoyance of the daily commute, and the sometimes seemingly arbitrary whims of your boss or supervisor.
It’s for exactly this reason that so many people who are transitioning to the remote-working lifestyle often “overindulge” in their newfound freedom, and “throw the baby out with the bathwater” so to speak.
It’s not uncommon for people in this situation to begin working and sleeping at incredibly irregular hours, procrastinating during the day to an extent previously undreamed of, and just living like they don’t have a single care in the world.
The issue is that this approach to work and life inevitably backfires – often dramatically, and usually sooner rather than later. Structure and routine are necessary if you’re going to be productive in your job, and if you want to have any hope of achieving your full potential.
Structure can be difficult to manage when you’re working from home – so here are some tips that might help.
Use Tools and Strategies to Cut as Many Corners as You Can Without Sacrificing Quality
“Cutting corners” Isn’t a flattering or positive concept as rule, because it usually associated with people who are unwilling to do the work required to turn out a high quality product or service, and who are instead happy to slack off in order to enjoy a more leisurely pace of life.
Obviously, you should by no means sacrifice quality in your work – not in any significant way, at least. But you should certainly “cut corners” in the sense of getting rid of redundant and inefficient tasks and routines, so that you can use your time as effectively as possible.
A major part of the reason why so many people find it hard to maintain structure when working from home, is because they have too many ideas floating around in their heads, and simply have no idea what the best course of action is at any given moment.
There are plenty of tools and strategies available for helping you to increase efficiency and focus on the most important tasks at any given moment. These range from strategies for optimizing your accounts payable, to tools that help you to largely automate processes like invoicing.
Take full advantage of these tools and strategies, so that you’re left with only the most important actions to focus your attention on.
Make Your Sleep and Wake Times Consistent
There’s a good argument to be made that all structure and routine is essentially built around regular sleep and wake cycles. Partly, this is because maintaining a regular sleep and wake cycles helps to condition our circadian rhythms, regulate our hormones, and balance our energy levels.
On a psychological level, however, it’s simply much easier to add other elements of structure and routine to your day, when your day is already “book-ended” by a set and consistent waking up time, and a set and consistent bedtime.
Once you’ve chosen set wake and sleep times, stick with them both throughout the week, and the weekend, to the best of your ability. This appears to be especially important for your waking up time – your bedtime can be slightly more flexible.
Schedule Your Days out on a Calendar
Many of the most productive entrepreneurs in the world enthusiastically tout the benefits of planning their days out on a calendar, regardless of what it is they aim to achieve in a given 24-hour period.
You should also use a to-do list and task management system of sorts, but instead of just haphazardly attacking your tasks and obligations at random, you should “book” then on your calendar.
This helps to ensure that you’re not “overbooking” yourself, and it also goes a long way towards holding you accountable, and giving you a clear sense of what you should be doing at any given moment.
Ease into this process if you’re not used to it. Allow substantial “buffer” periods between activities, and generous break times. But don’t just “wing it.”
Work in Focused “Sprints”
The Pomodoro technique is a system for engaging in productive work “sprints,” of about 25 minutes, Followed by breaks of about five minutes.
Many people report that this method works wonders in helping them to stay on task, and preventing them from feeling disheartened, or overly distracted.
Working for a period of 25 minutes at a time is manageable, and is likely to keep you more consistent in your structure and routine. Telling yourself “I’m going to work flat out for six hours,” on the other hand, is generally unsustainable.