By Erica Duran
You may think that traveling to a peaceful and quiet location to focus on writing or other projects would be very productive. Getting away to a new environment can spark your creativity, get you out of a procrastination rut and can give you the space to focus completely on a big project.
But working remotely can be very distracting. There is new scenery to get used to, unpredictable wi-fi connections, and being out of your normal routine that can kill your focus and productivity. There are also all kinds of fun experiences beckoning you to just get your work finished and start exploring whatever town you are in.
So with working remotely, there is an extra layer of focus and discipline needed to get the job done.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but you will experience more freedom than you ever imagined by having discipline and incorporating systems into your business.
Don’t worry! Even if you never plan on working remotely, these tips will work for you! You can be a “stay put” type of entrepreneur or still in a job. When you have the consistency of a “normal”, predictable and comfortable environment, you know what you can expect each day, so these tips will serve you even better than a remote worker.
Here are my 9 tips for staying productive while working remotely or if you are just generally distracted:
1. You Are Going to Wake Up Somewhere
Traveling or not, you are going to wake up somewhere. Create a productive morning routine that sets your day up for success, maximizes productivity and packs in as many new experiences as possible.
Your morning routine (no matter where you wake up) may look something like this:
- Make your bed and get your exercise gear on
- Get cleaned up and dress appropriately for your business day (or a day of exploring)
- Drink green juice
- Tackle the 3-5 main tasks you set up the night before
It can also include things that you will NOT do in the morning:
- Check email
- Check social media accounts
- Read or watch the news
- Eat poor quality food
2. Do your work offline and then load it up when online
While working from your regular home or office, you can be connected online all day with no interruptions. This is both a luxury and a detriment to your productivity. It is often too tempting to check email or your social media accounts when you are connected 24/7.
There have been days where I can’t get on the internet at all and those have been some of my most focused and productive days.
Even though at times I feel unconnected and like I am missing opportunities when offline, I’ve seen firsthand that you don’t really miss anything and you can get so much more done with long periods of being offline. You can batch online relationship-building and engagements when you are back online later, and it will be much more efficient and strategic than just poking around on the internet randomly.
So to boost your productivity, schedule time to work completely offline. Then when you are connected again, load up your work online and check in with social media and email.
If you do not have enough self-discipline now, you can install a few productivity tools to your laptop like this one called Freedom (even though their site is called MacFreedom, it works on all devices).
3. Plan your free time
This goes for anyone! Location independent worker or not – you need to plan what you will do with your free time. Have you ever noticed that when you don’t plan your fun or recreational activities with your free time, work and chores seem to creep in?
Planning what you will do in your free time also inspires you to stay focused during designated work time so you can get to the fun faster. Think back to a time when you were clearing all pending to-dos because you were about to go on vacation. I’ll bet those are some of your most productive and high energy days.
4. Batch your work by tools needed to get the job done
Have a long, boring drive ahead where you can catch up on hands-free phone calls? Let your calls build up so you can batch them all on the drive.
Need a fast wi-fi connection to update your website? Then don’t waste time trying to do it when you have a slow connection. Instead, fill that time with something that doesn’t take an Internet connection.
Have a long flight? That is a great time to get several articles written without interruptions.
In between errands and appointments, you can knock out most email responses on your phone so you don’t have to do it during your focused work time.
Keep a running list of everything you’d like to research online, then look everything up in one “batched” session instead of mixing research in with writing and other tasks.
5. Automate and delegate as much as possible
You’ve probably read a lot on this topic before from me and other location independent workers, but it seems there is always one more thing I can either automate or delegate when I look through my to-do list.
Take another look at what types of tasks you are doing just because you think it is quicker or easier to do them yourself than it is to get help or automate them. It takes a little work upfront to set up the system, but over time, all this leads to greater productivity and more freedom in your life.
6. Don’t answer the phone
Unless it is a scheduled call with a clear goal or answering the phone is part of your j-o-b, just don’t do it. Any call is an interruption when it is not scheduled and you are reacting to someone else’s timeline and requests. You can call them back later (or better yet, email them the answer they needed).
Some will argue that just taking care of the phone call at the time it happens is faster and there is no phone tag. But those who feel that taking care of calls as they come in is more productive don’t take into account the time it takes to refocus after the call. It often takes our brains up to 20 minutes to refocus again after an interruption.
To help “train” callers on how you’d like to work, ask them to leave a very detailed message with all their questions in their voicemail, along with their email address ,for a quicker reply.
You could also inform the caller in your outgoing message instructions on how to call your virtual assistant if it is an urgent situation. Don’t worry, hardly anyone will actually do this.
7. Limit your options/choices
When I had a large home with a big walk-in closet, I wore about 20% of the clothes in it.
Then, when I pared it down to just a suitcase, I found that I was still wearing only 20%!
When you are looking to be more streamlined, focused and productive, you may want to take a look at limiting your options or choices, especially if you are in the middle of launching a new business, product or service.
Every minute counts. You probably don’t even realize that you eat the same foods every day and wear the same 8-10 outfits. Why not decide right now that for the next 90 days, when you are really pushing to start your business and get all your ducks in a row, that you will have the same menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and pick 8-10 outfits that you will wear, wash, and wear again in a cycle.
Having less clothing to choose from makes getting dressed and out the door quick and easy. Everything you have is functional and fits the personality and size you are right now.
For meal planning, you can have little variations day-to-day so you won’t get bored. But remember, this is only for 60-90 days while you are launching and need to save all the time and mental clutter you can from routine and unimportant decisions like “What’s for dinner?”
Try it and see just how much freedom you experience from making fewer unimportant decisions every day.
8. Use headphones
I’ve mentioned this before, but there is nothing like wearing headphones, even if there is no music playing, to boost your productivity.
Wearing headphones has become the universal sign for “Don’t bother me!” on an airplane or in a bustling office.
Headphones, of course, block out noise and help you concentrate. They also seem to “anchor” you to your workspace so you are less tempted to get up and wander around doing less important household tasks.
9. Let yourself off the hook, or “Strategic Procrastination”
Sometimes there are just too many distractions, experiences to have or your work just isn’t “flowing”. Let yourself off the hook! You are not working at your best anyway if it is being forced. Take the time off to do something you enjoy and I’ll guarantee that when you return to your work, it will be effortless and you’ll get so much more done in less time.
American Express Small Business Open Forum has dubbed Erica Duran as the “The Productivity Expert for Entrepreneurs”.
Erica Duran is a Freedom Based Lifestyle Design Coach and a Published Business Productivity Expert. She has a strong background in sales, marketing, technology and has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years.
At Erica Duran International she mentors both new and established entrepreneurs and C-level executives from around the globe on how to escape the 9 to 5 society dictated lifestyle into one that is authentic to their dreams and goals and totally freedom based. Whatever freedom means to them.
For Erica, freedom meant selling her home and all her belonging except for her MacBook Air, iPhone, juicer, some clothes and her dogs to take off on a life of traveling on long term “workcations” – working virtually from anywhere, exploring the world and being in total control of her time.
Erica Duran teaches her clients all her secrets of productivity and time mastery. She also works with them to simplify, organize, automate and virtualize every area of their business and life so they too can have the freedom they crave and the lifestyle they’ve always wanted.
You will be amazed at how you can tweak your current business model to make it a virtual one. Or, maybe it is time to take that leap and explore a completely new industry!
Erica has over 100 published articles and is an expert contributor for AMEX Small Business Open Forum, Under 30 CEO, Ladies Home Journal, Moms In Charge, Marmalade Magazine, Secret Entourage, GoFireYourself.com, JenningsWire.com and more.
She has been awarded with “The Top 5% of all Viewed Profiles” on LinkedIn.
Join thousands of “Escape Artist” lifestyle entrepreneurs and claim your free “7 Steps to Lifestyle Freedom Guidebook” at www.EricaDuran.co
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