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One of the biggest questions I get asked when I tell people that I work remotely, is how do you stay disciplined and focused! Although my main answer will always because I am passionate and love what I do, there are definitely some tips and tricks that I’ve learned on the way to keep me looking in the right direction.

For those of you wondering, remote work is a now popular work cultural shift that allows professionals to work outside of a traditional office environment. It is based on the concept that work does not need to be done in a specific place to be executed successfully.

Think of it this way: instead of commuting to an office each day to work from a designated desk, remote employees can execute their projects and surpass their goals wherever they please. People have the flexibility to design their days so that their professional and personal lives can be experienced to their fullest potential and coexist peacefully. (Remote Year)

I am definitely lucky that the startup that I work for, Kashoo, allows me this flexibility. We typically have our team meetings together in the office on Mondays, but other than that, I have the flexibility to work where I want the rest of the week.

As amazing as it seems, there are definitely some downfalls to remote working (but that’s a whole other article on it’s own). Today I am sharing my 5 best tips on staying on track and staying motivated when working remotely.

Create a Great Work Space

Although I do spend a lot of my time in and out of coffee shops, I still make sure that I have a proper workspace at home. For me this is a desk in my room with my secondary monitor, documents holder, some sticky pads, and some things that inspire me. I find that having a dedicated space helps me get in the zone. When I am seated at my desk, agenda open, laptop at the ready… I know it’s time to work.

Use an Agenda

I use a variety of different tools for keeping my task lists organized, but the most important weapon in my arsenal is definitely my agenda. I use the STIL Classics 2019 Skim Agenda. I love how this agenda is laid out—it gives you an area to write down your daily to-do list, as well as provides you space to track time specific appointments and events.

The to-do list portion of my agenda is what makes it my favourite tool when it comes to time management. With countless tasks to complete both for my 9-5 as well as my side hustle, I would absolutely lose my mind if I had to keep track of everything on the top of my head.

See Related: YouTube Video: How I Manage My Time + My Favourite Agenda

Set a Schedule For Yourself

Yes, the biggest benefit of working remotely is that you get a lot of flexibility with your schedule, but that doesn’t mean you can negate one all together! I personally find that the most structured and defined my personal schedule is, the more productive I am throughout the day. If I know exactly what I should be doing at each point in my day, it is way easier to stay on track and focused during your “work hours”.

For me personally, my days are a mix of both side-hustle work as well as “work work”. I use the Calendar Blocking method to plan my days. When I am planning out my day, I make sure to always plan out my “work work” tasks first. That way, I know that no matter what, those tasks will for sure get finished within the day. After I schedule my work tasks, I then go in and schedule all the other tasks that need to be done that day, from most important to least. This is also a great practice to execute even if you are super on top of your scheduling because it gives you the opportunity to decide which tasks are “mission critical” and which ones are “nice to haves”.

Plan breaks for yourself

It’s easy for work to pile up when you’re running your own business or remote working. And sometimes you may be tempted to just work through lunch or dinner to get it done.

Often, when I get in the zone, I find myself neglecting other aspects or needs in my life, sometimes skipping meals or canceling on plans just to get my work done. But there is actually plenty of scientific research to back up the claim that productivity increases when you take breaks. Like did you know that breaks, even just mental breaks to daydream, can help you make connections and improve brain function (Science Daily). So as a part of your calendar blocking and scheduling, make sure to leave time throughout the day to just look away from your work or even step away to go for a walk.

If you’re like me, and likes to be ALWAYS doing something (you freak… but jk, I am too), then opt for a little time to read throughout the day. That way you’re not feeling like you’re wasting any of your precious waking hours.

Get Dressed For Work

The last tip may seem pretty ridiculous to some because why in the world would you get dressed for work if you’re just going to be working from home? Yes, working in your pyjamas definitely deserves some bragging rights at times, I find that I am actually more mentally prepared to have a productive day when I actually get out of my PJs and into some “work clothes”. Studies have shown that those that ditch the sweat pants for some nicer clothes when they are working remotely, typically are more productive. Wearing nicer clothes can help boost your confidence and can help trigger the right emotions in your brain to help you power through your work more effectively.

Not only that, when I am in nicer clothes, I typically feel less tempted to sit on the couch and be lazy with my day. It’s a win-win situation for me because I can then also go out and take photos of my outfit for the blog!

I hope this article was helpful for those of you who might be considering remote working or are just starting out. It’s been nearly 2 years since I’ve started to work remotely, and I’ve absolutely loved every moment of it. It’s gotten to the point where I just can’t see myself heading to an office everyday from 9-5 and wasting a portion of my day sitting in traffic. I’m definitely blessed to have found a job that allows for remote work, so early on in my career, and it has given me not only more flexibility in my schedule, but also the opportunity to grow my side business. So thanks Kashoo!

If you’re looking for remote work, make sure you check out We Work Remotely. Buffer also wrote an amazing article about remote working where they listed several companies that are known to have great remote working teams. Good luck!

Angel Zheng