By Amour Setter, Digital Nomad/Entrepreneur
People seem to think that remote workers have an easy work life. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's a fact that remote workers actually tend to work longer than regular office workers. To juggle a heavy schedule one has to be able to manage your time effectively. This blog shares valuable insights about effective time management and why remote workers need to perfect this skill.
If you are smart you would have negotiated a set number of daily working hours with your employer. If you're hired on a project basis then your hours are your own to determine. Either way, you need to manage your time effectively so that you can find a healthy balance between work and personal life. This is usually the most difficult thing for any remote worker to accomplish.
Finding a balance means making the time for exercise, travel, getting out into the sunshine whenever possible, networking & socializing and pursuing a hobby or passion interest. These are the things that bring balance into your life. If you find yourself working around the clock to meet deadlines and severely neglecting your personal life in the process, it's time to make a drastic change. I'd rather earn a lower income and have more time off to enjoy the things that money cannot buy than kill myself to have a higher bank balance. If you're chasing the dollars but burning out, it's time to seriously re-evaluate your job and what it's taking out of you.
Effective time management does require that you structure your life in a way that allows you to pursue the things that bring balance. That means following a set routine where possible. Let's take a look at some essential points that will help you manage your time more effectively:
1. Set goals and make sure your time management supports your goals
We all have goals in both our careers and our personal lives. As a remote worker you may have daily responsibilities in the home like taking care of a young family, running errands or studying part-time. This makes it all the more important to set clear goals and do what needs to be done to help you reach those goals. Setting goals helps you focus on your work in a more constructive manner.
For example, if you want to brush up on your career skills, doing an online course may mean you have to set aside a few hours a day for studying. If you want to remain fit and healthy then making the time for exercise should become part of your daily or weekly schedule.
2. Do the important stuff first
Learning how to prioritize your day is one of the biggest challenges in time management. When I was much younger and raising a young family as a single mom, I literally lived from crises to crises and my life was just one big crisis management nightmare. I have since learned to do the most important stuff first. Determining what is most important will allow you to focus on the things that also align with your ultimate goals. For me it's vitally important to attend to my health first and foremost, so I set aside time each day to exercise before I even begin working. Eating healthy meals means having meal breaks that are worked into my daily schedule. I try never to eat in front of my computer, but instead I take a break and enjoy my meals. Studying is another important goal for me, as I believe it's vitally important for your career to always be sharpening your sword. Therefore I make time twice a week for an hour or two of online studying. If you work those important priorities into your weekly schedule you will find that you reach your goals with less effort and stress.
3. Find ways to help motivate yourself on your off-days
Working remotely means you need to have high levels of self-motivation. You are going to experience days where you feel flat, bored, demotivated or just plain worn out. If you are self-aware and able to identify the source of your lack of motivation, you can take appropriate action. I find if I am even slightly over-worked and not taking enough breaks to recharge my batteries, I'm inclined to feel a lack of motivation.
Of course, there are times when it is necessary to burn the candles at both ends, so to speak. A looming deadline that requires extra hours at your desk may result in fatigue. If you are sensitive to your physical and emotional needs you'll be inclined to take some time off to recharge your batteries and balance the scales appropriately. Sometimes you need a kick to get you going. Watching motivational videos always seems to help me get going on my flat days. Getting out into nature may also help.
4. Focus on your work by switching off all distractions
Social media can be a huge source of distraction. When I start working I usually close all social media tabs on my laptop while also switching my cell phone to silent. That allows me to focus exclusively on my very long to-do list. If noise distracts you, you may want to wear earplugs so you are less affected by noise. Working alone can sometimes bore me to tears and so I tend to step into a nearby cafe for some stimulation once in a while. I generally can't work effectively with too much noise but for some strange reason the noise in a busy cafe doesn't seem to distract me too much. Find what works for you and try to get rid of anything that distracts you from focusing all your attention on your tasks at hand.
5. Make a to-do list or use an app
I am very goal-driven and to that end I need to have daily tasks broken down so I can systematically work through them. My day is very structured with the most important tasks scheduled first. I find if I work in this way I get far more done. I am always surprised when I come across people who don't make to-do lists or have their tasks scheduled out. I also feel more productive if I know what tasks need to be tackled each day and the sense of satisfaction I get at the end of the day after completing the scheduled tasks is very rewarding. There are loads of smart apps around that help you increase productivity.
Check out these free Task Setting Apps:
6. Rest well so you have enough energy to work effectively
It goes without saying that rest allows you to recharge so you have the necessary energy to keep going at a solid pace. In my crazy youth I was insanely driven to achieve and I often neglected my health and well-being in the process. After suffering from burn-out a few times I learned to pace myself and get enough sleep. Nowadays I'll spend the weekend catching up on sleep, if necessary because I've come to realize how important rest and downtime is in maintaining a good work pace.
Also, there is a new solution that attracted our interest.
Nick Timms, the founder of Drag said that ''On average, the U.S. worker spends 6.3 hours a day checking their email. This insight is where the idea of Drag came from.''
Drag transforms your Gmail into organized Task Lists. It's a free Chrome extension that turns your inbox into a manageable workspace (just like Trello, but for Gmail).
This post was originally published here.