In the last post I was talking about few biggest advantages of remote work. This post is dedicated for future or present remote workers. I present few guidelines, how to organise your work to be happy with remote job, create good habits and clean remote work hygiene.
Find right workplace
Well-chosen place is the core of work. All depends on your personality. Some people prefer quiet home office, where they are fully focused on tasks. Other people need to be in crowd and contact with people, so they can choose coffee shop or co-working centre. The important part is to have working space only for you: you, your computer, your tasks. Resting area should be somewhere else. You need to set boundary between this 2 parts of your life.
Adjust your workplace to your needs.
Take care about your health and buy ergonomic, good quality furnitures. It can save you from big stress and big medical bills, because of back/ wrist /eye issues. Choose tools, which help you to be productive: create your own personal scrum board, visualise your goals and progress, use yellow sticky notes etc… Limit distractions and temptations: ask your family to not bother you during work time, remove games from your work computer, block social networks/ Youtube / news/ Hulu and all websites, which distract you. Buy good headphones, remove all not necessary things from your desk. Finally keep this place constantly clean and well organized.
Plan your life.
Calendar/ organizer is your best friend. Every day should contain planned time for work, pleasures, sport, hobbies, home duties and what is very important meetings with other people every day, with friends and family. You need to know yourself better, observe your life, efficiency, productivity and create your own habits and routine. Maybe you need 5km run or you need to clean your space before work start? Get used to that – you are adult and mature person, so you don’t need supervisor above your head to get things done. Do whatever you need to be productive and happy at work.
Manage your work time.
Work time can be grouped by: serious work (in our case software development), learning, collaboration with coworkers, other internal stuff. After small observation you can tell when you like to programming and when you need to call or respond to emails. Keep this in one context to not lose focus and not waste your valuable time. Try to follow your habits and listen to your body and mind. Add this work blocks to your calendar as constant events.
Manage your tasks.
Use some software to track your todo lists and manage projects. You need to always know what you have to do today. Try to avoid being stuck, bored or feeling useless. I can recommend you pomodoro technique as time management method. Rules are very easy, but helpful in the same time: * Select takes to work with * Estimate how much “pomodoro cycles” it should take * Set timer on 25 minutes * Get 5 minutes break * After four pomodoro cycles get longer break * Verify your estimates In the next post, I will share with you more information about useful software.
Motivation is your fuel.
Sometimes your day looks like battlefield: too much on your mind, deadlines, some unexpected situations, stress and.. your perfect plan is smashed into small pieces. Status on the end of the day could be: no task done. Don’t worry, talk honestly with your boss, take a day off to resolve your problems if this is possible. Clean your mind and stick to the plan next day. Work hard and be happy about your good productive work day. Say yourself “good job”. Visualise your progress to feel better on scrum board or by checking on your to do list.
Checking in everyday.
We need to feel as part of community, as part of company. Spend some time everyday to interact with your coworkers on chat/irc or on scrum calls. Be open to help other people, listen to them, learn from them. However you need to be careful to stay balanced. Your goal is make things done not cheap chat about nothing whole day.
Pay attention to communication.
It’s crucial part of remote work and one of the most challenging. Words are very strong. Raw text can be interpreted differently by each person, when they don’t see your mimic, body and eyes. You need to learn, how to communicate with your team. Try to be always clear and describe all details. Use full sentences and pay attention to your language. Avoid comments connected personally to other people. Don’t resolve conflicts via text, it’s better to call. If you are not sure what someone has in mind, just call or chat.
Another subject connected with the quality of communication. Set a time window on responding on emails, chat messages, calls, other notes. I recommend 12 for email, 4 hour for chat and calls. However remember that your attitude in responses is important. Take your time and full attention to respond, so sometimes is better write short note “I will respond tomorrow” and prepare more details or just calm down after long and stressful day. Healthy relationships in your team are more important than time of reaction. Of course You can’t be bottleneck for other coworkers, so you need to prioritize smartly and responsibly.
Spend your rest time out of your personal office. Change computer, for example from iMac to iPad. Focus on your family during your family time, on jogging focused on your run. Try to make work time and rest time different even at home. Set a boundary between work and rest time. Be committed to both those parts of your life. Again be careful, you need to keep balance, because you are long-distance person. Each day creates your happy and successful life.
Remote work is not easy career path, but you can take a risk and win happy and successful life in this challenge. In the next few post I will share with you more about helpful software, common traps and management sites for working remotely.