Beginner’s Guide: The Galaxy of Remote Work

2 July 2015

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When the time comes, you may find yourself working halfway across the country from co-workers, some previous collaborators, and others with whom you may never share the same room, maybe only a conference line. While remote work isn’t for everyone, this guide can be a good starting point for many on this journey.

Let’s put the autonomy allowed by your job to good use.

 

Different Time zones

Some work scenarios might find employers trying to communicate with you from beyond the average work hours, due to other time zones or night owl schedules.

To ensure you don’t fall into this habit there are plenty of email plug-ins that will allow you to schedule mail to go out on a co-worker’s timeline. Don’t let your emails get buried overnight.

Emails should be concise and communicate effectively if you think the chance of them being able to respond immediately isn’t feasible. Make sure to highlight when projects will be delivered, and what’s being done to get them there on time.

Should you need to schedule meetings, it is also important that times zones are factored in, and reiterate that with the other party as a reminder.

 

Goal Setting and Preparation:

The most effective way to get work done is to set goals with a check and balance system. Anyone can work ten hours, but what actually was accomplished? If you’re not reviewing your labor, not only will you find time out of your day being lost to the confusion, but the appearance of improvement becomes faded too.

If improvement and betterment of your job is a priority then set up a system to review work. It is suggested that a fifteen-minute period at the beginning of each day and at the end is implemented. This time is strictly devoted to goal setting and review.

Once you have reviewed your work, make a task list. This should be a simple outline of your entire day and everything that needs to be accomplished. Be sure to set realistic goals and avoid going overboard.

With task list in hand, make sure it is communicated with your superior, and start the day with no distractions.

 

Work methods

 You need to stay productive, or you will find your evenings filled with the tasks you should have finished during the day.

One popular and effective technique makes use of the average kitchen timer. The Pomodoro Technique is used to get you through that task list you have created at the start of the day. It allows you to simplify your day and get bulks of work done faster and distraction free.

The technique simply takes twenty-five minute increments of focused work on the kitchen time, and then a five-minute break follows. By repeating this, it has been found that distractions disappear and a more focused work day arises.

 

Inevitable Interruptions

Let’s just face the fact that we interrupt ourselves. What better time than now to find a cat picture to send on Facebook or call our grandparents. The fact of the matter is interruptions will occur. In the heat of the moment, simply try this: Jot down your thoughts and save it for later.

 

Workplace:

It’s obvious that the office isn’t where work will be done. Some remedy this by creating a home office, but even if this isn’t an option then you may find it best to be a minimalist in this case.

 

The checklist for a bare minimum home office:

  • Notepad
  • Computer
  • Phone
  • Pens and pencils
  • Internet connection
  • Kitchen timer

That’s it. The other prerequisites involve getting some silence, and if you have a family, it may be best to shut yourself out of site for work-centric hours.

 

Tools to help you along the way:

  • For searching for a place to stay while away from the home office.
  • Trello – Great for task building and communication
  • Pomello (combining Trello with Pomodoro)
  • Finance tracking QuickBooks
  • Skype: you’ll need a fast internet connection for this one.
  • Coffee

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the job is two hours away or ten. You’re on your own and there’s work to be done.

 

Ryan De La Rosa is a practitioner of the Pomodoro technique. He works from his RV with his two dogs, and they are quite the distraction. You can see pictures of them on twitter: @fernsandmoss