How to get the discipline to telecommute

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You are pukes! You are the lowest form of life on Earth!

This article belongs to the telecommuting and geographical independence series.

The most obvious and fundamental aspect of telecommuting is the act of being productive with other people, in a non-working related environment.

If you are a freelancer or self-employed, most likely you’re already used to working in unusual places. But, what about the rest of us, the ones that have always worked in cubicle jungles?

You see, in an office discipline is a fact –or almost a fact: you get there on time because otherwise your boss will fire you, and then you sit on your desk because there’s nothing else to do. But, if you decide to make a living outside the office, you’ll soon discover that the temptations to do anything else than sitting down to work, are many. So, if you wish to earn some cash working remotely, you’ll need to develop a new set of skills.

Whether you’re at home in your city, or at a riad where far beyond the minarets, you catch a glimpse of snow on the Atlas mountains, your priority is finding a space where you can be productive.

When I say space, I don’t mean just the physical aspect but also, a moment in time and a place in our minds.


Physical Space

This is simple: you need to find a place that helps you focus. If you don’t have it where you sleep, maybe you can access a library nearby, or a coffee shop where you can use your laptop. Personally, I can’t be in a coffee shop without getting distracted, so I prefer silent lonely places. However, in order to be productive some people need activity and interaction. An idea incubator such as the co-working spaces that I mentioned in a previous article.

But, if you decide to stay at home, you need to further develop the following aspects:

 

Space in time

People who fantasize with the idea of working from home think that the best aspect of telecommuting is having a shorter work schedule.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. At first, you’ll end up working 14 or 16 hours, because three main reasons:

  1. You don’t need to “arrive to the office” at a set time.
  2. You have less visual cues of when’s time to start or stop.
  3. You wish to show your boss, your colleagues, or your clients that, you are truly working.

Or, the opposite situation can happen: the first two weeks you’ll work four hours tops, and everything will fall behind.

So, whether you work a lot, or very little, you’ll soon notice that you need to optimize your time management. For this, you’ll need to:

  1. Establish a work schedule. This will be the time where you’ll be “at the office”. You need to communicate this to your closest friends and family. Not only so they know that they cannot interrupt you, but also so they help you achieve it! If you have children, and decide to stay at home, and you want to work, you need to do this.
    If you don’t establish a schedule, believe me, you’ll be yearning for that time when you used to go to the office, got some work done, got paid, and your life had structure and meaning.
  2. Use some method or tool to manage time and projects. By not having your colleagues or your boss near, you need to create your own reminders, in order to combine the autonomy of telecommuting with the discipline of an office. Like I mention in this post.

 

Mental space

This is the most important advice that you’ll be reading here: even if you’re staying at home to work, you need to dress as if you were at the office.

This way, when you take off your pajamas, you play a mind trick. I’m not suggesting you wear a tie or a suit, but clothing that convinces you that it’s time to be productive.

Staying in your pajamas or leisurewear will eventually lead you to think that there’s nothing wrong with lying down to watch TV with a bag of chips, or sleeping for 16 hours.

Manufacturing these spaces demands the collaboration of your closest family and friends. You need to notify your significant other and your family that you’re not lazing around the house, but instead that your office is very, very close to home –or in a riad with a view of the Atlas. The creation and strengthening of a routine, such as the one you had when you worked at an office, will be your main instrument to be productive while working remotely.

 

I'm a software architect and I help people solve their problems with technology. In this site, I write about how to seize the opportunities that a hyperconnected world offers us. How to live simpler and more productive lives. I invite you to check the "Best of" section. If you want to contact me, or work with me, you can use the social links below.

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