Remote Work Digest: September 20, 2016

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

4 Life Hacks For Mompreneurs To Stay Happy and Healthy On The Go | Deborah Sweeney, Thriveglobal.com

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The gentle act of being present and focusing on wellness is a big part of ensuring that your family continues to grow up happy and healthy. No matter how old your children may be or which stage you’re at in your small business journey, I’ve found the following life hacks to be tremendously helpful for mompreneurs to stay centered on the go.

1. Cut down the screen time.
I like to think that when you cut screens out of the equation, it gives your brain less opportunities to go on autopilot and reply “fine” and really think about the day as a whole.

2. Eating and drinking right.
Consider doing weekly meal prep for the whole family that covers all of your nutritional bases. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, too! Swap out sugary drinks like soda for water and decaf instead of caffeinated coffee.

3. Use technology to stay on track.
If you’re struggling to make time to get in a workout, download the Sworkit app. This lets you choose from a few different types of circuit workouts. Other great options include the Studio Tone It Up app, which acts as an on-the-go fitness studio, and MyFitnessPal which helps track your caloric intake for the day.

4. Schedule in a family walk around the neighborhood.
It doesn’t have to be a long walk. A quick jaunt around the neighborhood works just fine. Make sure every member of the family is accounted for and use the time to get in some exercise and regroup as a unit together.

5 reasons why all teams need to work remotely | Fiona Adler, Thenextweb.com

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Remote working teams may be leading the way, but almost all teams need to learn to work together remotely. Even if you’re not hiring contractors in some far away country, your own team will benefit from the learnings we can take from remote teams.

Here’s why remote working styles are just as important for in-house teams.

In a sense, all teams are remote
Whether our colleagues are in another country or just down the hall, they’re not right with us so we need ways of working together online. The same systems and structures we need to work with an employee across the world will help up work with our team members sitting on another floor or in another office.

Embracing remote work keeps existing employees happy
Research shows that employees that work from home are happier and ‘massively more productive’ and companies that offer working from home options can reduce attrition by up to 50%.

If working from home seems scary, don’t worry — you don’t necessarily need to dive into a full-time working-from-home arrangement. A policy where employees can work from home one or two days a week often gives your team the flexibility they’re craving and keeps your company competitive.

Remote working styles help you focus on real productivity
Thinking of your team as a remote team is a great way to instigate a new approach like this. Productivity tracking also doesn’t need to be as complex as you might think. For instance, it could include simple team disciplines like:

  • Holding a 10 minute start-of-day call to share each person’s plan for the day
  • A structure where everyone sends an end-of-day email to share what they’ve accomplished
  • A weekly share-your-work demonstration where the team takes turns to showcase something they’re working on and seek feedback from the team

Putting these types of structures in place is gets your team ready to work remotely but more importantly, improves team performance.

A remote working capability allows you to build a better team
By broadening the talent pool, you can often attract someone of a much higher calibre. For businesses located in small towns or in areas that have a lot of competition for top talent, offering a remote position can give you a huge advantage.

Start building your remote working capability
Working with a distributed team has its challenges, but these also force disciplines that are beneficial to all teams. Creating a framework for teamwork online, before you actually need go remote, is a wise step for all teams to take.
Plus, learning to manage a team online is a skill all managers need to learn and embrace – whether that’s to increase the performance of your existing team or to prepare for pending remote work.

3 Pitfalls You’ll Encounter When You Run a Business Out of Your Home | Maurie Backman, Fool.com

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There are plenty of benefits to running a business out of your home — namely, the convenience factor. When you work from home, you don’t waste time or spend money commuting, and you have easy access to your office at all times. On the other hand, there are certain hiccups you might encounter when you attempt to run a business from home. Here are a few to be aware of.

1. Loneliness
Working from home can be an isolating experience whether you’re running your own business or are employed by an outside firm. Of course, being busy, which business owners tend to be, can help negate some of the loneliness factor, since it’s hard to harp on that solitude when you have endless tasks to complete in a given week. Still, over time, it can get to you, so to remedy that, make your home office your primary workspace, but venture out when you can.

You might also consider working from a public library if you’re starved for company but need a reasonably quiet atmosphere. Incorporating even a modest degree of human interaction into your schedule can go a long way toward making your setup work better for you.

2. Distractions
To avoid falling behind on work obligations, make sure you have a separate, dedicated space for business matters — ideally, a room with a door that closes. Physically separating yourself from the rest of your home will help your brain process the fact that you need to be working and not doing other things.

3. No work-life balance
The beauty of running a business from home is having constant access to your workspace. The downside, however, is having constant access to your workspace. When you manage a business out of your home, it’s difficult to maintain a solid work-life balance because you could technically be doing your job all the time.

Of course, working too much can negatively impact your health, damage your personal relationships, and put you in a position where you risk completely burning out. A better idea? Create a schedule that dictates when you’ll be working versus living your life, and stick to it. If you’re supposed to wrap things up at 6 p.m. on a given day, commit to closing up shop at that point and joining your friends or family for dinner if that’s what you have planned. While it’s a good thing to be dedicated to your business, if you cross the line into total workaholism, you won’t end up doing yourself any favors.

Running a business from home can save you time and money, but it can also backfire if you aren’t careful. Now that you know what pitfalls to avoid, you’ll be better positioned to manage your business from home while maintaining your productivity and sanity along the way.

A Few Disgruntled Employees Can Destroy Your Company Culture | Richard Trevino II, Entrepreneur.com

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Disgruntled employees can pose a risk to your company by providing poor service – thus turning customers off — and they can create a negative work environment by creating stress and disharmony within the work group. Some disgruntled employees may purposely set out to cause trouble with unethical behavior, ranging from spreading rumors to stealing money and equipment. Let’s look at how disgruntled employees impact your operation and how to approach their impact in a constructive manner:

Productivity decline, hostile work environment and misappropriation of resources.
Unhappy, disgruntled employees can create a tense, negative and stressful atmosphere in the workplace, which affects the overall productivity of the team. These same employees can cause a hostile work environment. They are a drain on managers because managers, in turn, have to waste their time dealing with and resolving the problems they cause. Disgruntled employees can destroy a company’s culture by the misappropriation of essential company resources as well.

Keep your employees actively engaged and productive
When employees are acknowledged and their good performances are rewarded financially and professionally, they will be predisposed to being gratified and productive. Also, work-life balance is important to today’s employees. They must have time for their career, family and social life. When friendships and goodwill between employees are established, the positive-minded employees can provide support and encouragement to disgruntled employees.

Determine the cause of their issues and address them.
Open a dialogue with the disgruntled employees and determine their true concern, what their issues are and how you can help them resolve or get a better handle on them. Disgruntlement among employees can stem from various reasons, including perceived disrespectful treatment, need for recognition, culture of favoritism, poor performance evaluations, negative office interactions with peers and management staff, sexual harassment, lack of financial opportunities, or even limited career growth opportunity and domestic and health issues.

Ensure that employees are a right-fit for their job.
Employees are hired to do a job, and you must ensure that the right person is hired to perform that job. Regardless of the efforts you make in recognizing your employees and providing them with incentives, if employees’ interests and goals don’t match the company’s mission and vision, they are a misfit for the job. The best way to avoid the effects of disgruntled employees is to ensure that employees fit the company culture during the hiring process. Given that people can change over time and experiences, once productive employees might eventually change their interests and goals to the point where they no longer fit the company culture. At that point, it is best to determine whether there is a way that the company can still fulfill the employee’s interests and goals; if not, the employee needs to find other opportunities.

Company culture influences employee performance and customer perception, both affect the company’s reputation. Making sure that the company strives to maintain a positive culture diminishes disgruntlement among employees, but when it does happen, you should make sure to immediately address the issue so that it doesn’t destroy the inner workings and character of your company.

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Remote Work Digest: August 25, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

101 Time Management Tips to Boost Productivity Every Day | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

For most of us, time management and staying productive is a daily struggle. Sometimes that’s not the end of the world. But, if you don’t address this sooner then later, the things you were supposed to do today get pushed to tomorrow, then the next day. Eventually, you could end-up several weeks behind.

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Thankfully, you can prevent that from happening by using these 101 time management and productivity tips. Let’s start to gain yourself more time.

1. Just Breathe.
2. Measure twice, cut once.
My dad used to tell me, “Measure twice, cut once.” This is actually a famous proverb for anyone involved in carpentry or building since it advices to do things right the first time around.
3. Turn off the TV.
Instead of watching so much television, spend that time on higher-leverage tasks.
4. Eat the frog first.
“Your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.”
5. Schedule according to energy.
By creating a schedule based around your energy you can create a routine that ensures your as productive as possible.
6. Wake-up earlier
This way you have the time to read, exercise, respond to emails, and plan out your day properly.
7. Keep a time diary.
By recording how you spend your time for a month or two, you’ll see where you’re wasting time and what influences productivity.
8. Make use of waiting time.
Let’s say you have a doctor’s appointment. Have something with you to do. This could be reading a book, catching up on correspondence, or writing your upcoming eBook.
9. Make a list and get it out of your head.
Don’t let everything you have to do swirl around in your head. Jot them done so that it clears your brain and prevents you from getting overwhelmed.
10. Think “half-time.”
For example, if you’re cooking dinner, make the twice the amount and freeze half of it. This way you’re not spending that time again preparing and cleaning your meal on another night.
11. Ditch commitments that waste your time, energy and attention.
12. Be decisive.
Make a decision, live with it, and move on.
13. Cross something off.
This keeps your to-do lists from getting out of control. It also prevents you from over committing.
14. Lighten your cleaning standards.
Obviously you want your home and office to be clean and organized. But, settling on “dirt removal” instead of “spotless” will definitely save you a ton of time and energy in the end.
15. Establish “maintenance days.”
Group your cleaning, laundry, and errands on specific days. This way they’re not lingering over your head when working on more pressing matters.
16. Schedule your work in batches.
Speaking of grouping, start batching similar tasks together.
17. Combine efforts.
This way you’re cutting down on the time spend going back and forth all day.
18. Learn keyboard shortcuts.
19. Shorten your emails.
20. Delegate or outsource.
Instead of doing tasks yourself, delegate or outsource them to someone else so that you can focus on more important tasks.
21. Automate repetitive tasks.
22. Schedule less.
23. Work hours a day.
It’s all about focusing on your most important tasks when you’re most productive.
24. Stop multitasking.
Focus on one task at a time. Train your brain to slow down a little. It’s like running, the more you train your body, the faster you’ll become.
25. Don’t beat yourself up.
What happens if you spend a Saturday morning binge-watching Stranger Things? Stop wasting your time feeling guilty about it. Sometimes that happens. Do your best not to make that a habit and move-on instead of living in the past.

To make the most of your time, here are tips for implementing a productivity system.

26. The “Pomodoro Technique.”
The “Pomodoro Technique” is where you use a timer and schedule short breaks, usually five minutes, after 25 minutes of focused work.
27. Seinfeld’s “Don’t break the chain” method.
Jerry Seinfeld would use a wall calendar and red marker to stay focused. He would cross out the days on the calendar when he wrote.
28. David Allen’s “two-minute rule.”
According to David Allen, author of the best-selling Getting Things Done, if a task takes under two-minutes to complete — do it now — so that it’s out of the way.
29. Break your day into five-minute slots like Elon Musk.
Doing so keeps him productive since it ensues that he stays on-track and doesn’t waste his time.
30. Jay Shirley’s “Must, Should Want Method.”
Every morning start your day by answering three questions: What must your do to create the most impact today? What should your do to build a better future? What do you want to do so that you can enjoy today and life more completely?
31. The Eisenhower Matrix
“Eisenhower’s strategy for taking action and organizing your tasks is simple. Using the decision matrix below, you will separate your actions based on four possibilities.
1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).”

32. Airplane days.
If you plan ahead and organize your work before you leave for the airport, you can increase productivity by accomplishing an enormous amount while you are in the air.
33. Follow your ultradian rhythms.
It can get pretty complex, but the idea is that you should concentrate when your energy levels are highest, but to rest when you feel drained.
34. The “big rocks system.”
If you start with “big rocks,” and then put in sand or smaller rocks, all the gaps and cracks will get filled.
35. “No Meetings Wednesdays.”
Other companies have this rule for other days of the week, but the idea is the same. As opposed to wasting your time in a meeting, you can focus on important individual tasks.
36. The “anti to-do-list.”
Instead of composing just a to-do list, create a to-done list where you write down everything you’ve already accomplished.
37. Sunday check-ins.

What brings this altogether is focus and attention. The following tips can be a big help.

38. Get your environment right.
Work in an environment that has your auditory sweet spot (some prefer silence, others like background), organized, comfortable, free of distractions, and comfortable.
39. Turn off notifications.
40. Plan for interruptions.
41. Shrink your mental deadlines.
By shrinking your mental deadline you’ll work faster, as well as improve your focus.
42. Make a procrastination list.
This is a list of high-leverage activities that you can chip away at whenever you’re procrastinating or have down time.
43. Create a stop doing list.
This is a list of those bad habits that waste your time or hinder your productivity.
44. Use Brainwave Entrainment.
Brainwave entrainment isn’t a new development. In fact, it’s a 100+ year old science that uses special tones and sounds to influence an individual’s brainwave patterns.
45. Focus@Will.
Focus@Will is an app that not only removes distractions, it also increases productivity.
46. Use a password manager.
47. Hack your vision.
Blue wavelengths from fluorescent lights and electronic devices can fatigue your eyes and accelerate eye aging. To combat this start by taking a couple of small steps like blinking more and reducing your exposure before bed.
48. Actively listen.
Active listening is when you all of your attention and focus is at the conversation at-hand.
49. Have a cut-off time.
Set a specific time to completely check-out from work so that you can avoid further exposure to blue light and recharge your batteries.

The foundation of our productivity is our health, so here are physical productivity tips to simplify getting and staying in shape.

50. Exercise.
51. Fuel-up wisely.
Avoid sugar, simple carbohydrates like pasta and bread, and junk food — they can give you a temporary energy high, but then you may crash.
52. Drink caffeine intelligently and stay hydrated.
53. Get 7-9 hours of sleep.
54. Skip the nightcap.
Drinking alcohol before bed prevents your from getting a quality night’s rest. If you do have an alcoholic beverage, have one several hours before your hit the hay.
55. Stop and smell…the lemons.
Research from Ohio State University found that sniffing lemon improved people’s moods and raised levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical linked to executive decision-making and motivation.
56. Meditate.
57. Strike a power pose.
A ‘power pose’ actually can cause a burst of testosterone, that’s responsible for feelings of dominance.
58. Take a nap.
59. Set the right temperature.
60. Soak up the sun.
Natural light increases your energy levels, helps you focus, reduces stress, and assists in better sleep.
61. Smile!
Smiling makes you more productive because it boosts your immunity, makes your happier, handle stress better, and helps you focus on the big picture.
62. Bring your dog to work.
This isn’t a problem if you work from home, but what if you can’t bring your dog to work? Looking at pictures of animals can have similar effects.
63. Standing and walking meetings.
It’s not just better for your health, these types of meetings reduce distractions, promote collaboration, and saves time.

Success requires being equally fit physically and mentally. Try these mental productivity tips:

64. Have a plan.
Start by identifying a daily mantra, your short-term goal, and your long-term goal.
65. Take five.
This isn’t taking a five-minute break. It’s actually taking five minutes before any call or task to determine what you want to attain.
66. Develop a growth mindset.
67. Regularly review the past week.
68. Write in your happiness journal.
69. Get an easy win.
It’s a simple way to feel accomplished and build momentum for the rest of the day.
70. Learn to say ‘no’ effectively.
71. Find your groove.
A flow state is where you’re completely absorbed in what you’re doing at the moment. To get into this flow state, you should work on activities that are challenging, but also equal to the skills you possess.
72. Schedule breaks throughout the day.
“The best way to take breaks is to schedule them throughout your day. That way you can truly control the flow of work.”
73. Disconnect.
74. Rehearse situations.
75. Bargain with yourself.
“If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it,” says Instagram founder Kevin Systrom. “After five minutes, you’ll end up doing the whole thing.”
76. Identify you keystone habits.
Examples include planning out your days, exercising, and having strong willpower.
77. Establish S.M.A.R.T. Goals.
Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based. This makes it easier to define and achieve them.
78. Stop tracking your progress on goals.
View your actions as evidence that you are committed to your goal” and remind yourself why you want to reach your goal.
79. Set “process goals.”
A process goal is what you actually need to achieve in order to achieve a larger goal. For example, if you want to increase sales by 25%, then your process goal would be to call 5 potential clients daily.
80. Anticipate obstacles.
This way you can have a contingency plan so that you can keep going forward no matter what.
81. Own your mistakes, then move on.
82. End your day on a high-note.
Ending your day on a high note encourages you to do the same the next day.

Success always is a team sport, so here are organization and prioritization tips:

83. Schedule your entire day.
84. Keep your desk clear.
When you have a cluttered desk that sends a visual cue to your brain that causes stress.
85. Use an online calendar and calendar tool.
With an online calendar you can access it from multiple devices, schedule meetings/appointments, set up reminders, block time, and set up recurring events.
86. Declutter your calendar.
Clear the clutter from your calendar by only adding priorities that are date-specific. Don’t fill it with minute activities or events that no longer fit into your lifestyle.
87. Consolidate your tools and apps.
Having too many of these tools and apps are counter-productive. Limit yourself to the essentials.
88. Share your calendar.
Share your calendar with clients and colleagues so that you can schedule productive meetings and be aware of deadlines without the back-and-forth emails. You can also share your calendar with your family so that they know where you are and that you can delegate household chores.
89. Set a maximum of three priority tasks per day.
90. Define three daily outcomes every morning.
91. Jot down “forgettables”.
What happens when something pops in your mind while you’re working on an important task? Have a pen and paper nearby so that you can jot it down. This gets the thought out of your head, without doing much damage to your flow.
92. Schedule buffer and travel time.
Don’t jump directly from task-to-task or meeting-to-meeting. You need time to recharge, refocus, and/or commute.
93. Break larger projects into bite-sized pieces.
94. Set deadlines.
95. Tap into the power of visualization.
“Mental practice can get you closer to where you want to be in life, and it can prepare you for success!,” writes AJ Adams, MAPP in Psychology Today.
96. Set-out visual reminders.
97. Find a mentor.
98. Enhance or develop skills.
99. Take one step at a time.
Baby steps. It’s probably one of the easiest and most powerful time management and productivity tips. Instead of focusing on the task, focus on what you’re doing now.
100. Don’t worry about perfection.
Stop worrying about something being “perfect.” It doesn’t exist. It’s only a figment of your imagination that can never become a reality.
101. Reward yourself.
It’s no secret that rewarding yourself when you’ve reached a goal or milestone is an effective way to keep you motivated and productive. The trick is being smart with your rewards.

 
Ask these 4 questions before hiring a remote worker | Alexis Bruemmer, Fastcompany.com

To reap the benefits, companies need to be prepared to adjust their systems and practices and set up remote workers for success. Asking these four questions before you hire a remote employee can go a long way.

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1. IS THIS POSITION WELL-SUITED TO REMOTE WORK?
If you’re hiring an office manager or administrator, they should probably be present in the office. You need to ask yourself this before you even start considering candidates–because if it turns out that being remote is a hindrance to their role, you’ll probably face expensive and time-consuming problems down the line.

2. CAN THIS CANDIDATE BE EFFECTIVE IN A REMOTE SETTING?
Not everyone can be a remote worker. For starters, someone who isn’t a proactive communicator or needs constant social interaction to thrive can really struggle in this kind of setup. When you’re evaluating candidates, you need to understand if their work habits fit the needs of a remote role. This is a little tricky, but having a consistent interview plan can make all the difference, mainly when hiring for a technical remote position.

3. HOW CAN I HOLD MY REMOTE TEAM (AND MYSELF) ACCOUNTABLE?
As a manager, I tend to share what’s happening at the leadership level during our daily standup, and as much as I can, I communicate how our team’s work ties back to larger strategic goals for the company.

You don’t necessarily have to use this method–but it’s vital that you have a single, shared system for tracking progress on team deliverables. That way, everyone is clear on what they need to accomplish, and they can have something to refer to anytime they’re unsure of their priorities.

4. HOW CAN I KEEP MY REMOTE TEAM MOTIVATED?
It’s a challenge for any manager to keep their team motivated, and remote work adds another layer of complexity to the mix. Loneliness is a huge problem among remote workers and the lack of in-office face time might also lead to higher anxiety around job security.

In addition to keeping your team on track, it’s equally crucial to keep them connected so you can combat those potentially negative feelings. I try to schedule planned face-to-face time at least three times a year with my remote team, and I put extra effort into recognizing and (visibly) rewarding great work. After all, saying “good job” while I pass them in the hallway isn’t an option for me.

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Working with a Virtual Assistant | Yoshitaka Shiotsu, Business2community.com

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Virtual assistants (VA) are remote office assistants. They provide administrative, clerical, and support services that can range from scheduling conference calls and sending invoices to more complex tasks regarding PR, marketing, and project management. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid when working with Vas.

1. Hiring for tasks instead of filling roles
When you hire people to perform tasks you’re not taking advantage of this phenomenal human trait. When outsourcing tasks, once each is complete you must then spend time to delegate a new one. When you hire someone to fill a role, he or she can be trained to perform all the tasks associated with that role, keeping management time to a minimum.

2. Micromanaging a VA
When you micromanage, you become an operational bottleneck within your organization. VAs are supposed to free up your time, but if you micromanage you’ll end up spending more time delegating specific tasks than you gain from their help.

3. Not Using a System
By creating clear step-by-step procedures for how certain tasks should be performed, you can remove the guesswork and confusion that usually prevent teams working under micromanagers from being proactive and productive.

4. Neglecting to define a clear role or scope
Make a list of the specific tasks—social media posts, booking travel arrangements, scheduling meetings, etc.—of the role you’d like to outsource. Create a picture of the responsibilities, skills, and experience required of that role. Clarify whether this is a long-term hire or a one-time gig. Transparency will save you headaches and unmet expectations in the future.

5. Thinking you can 100% set it and forget it
How else is your VA supposed to learn how to better meet your business needs? Fortunately, plenty of project management tools are out there to help you better manage your VA and other members of the team. There are even freelancer management systems especially geared toward helping you work with VAs and other remote freelancers.

6. Failing to build trust
Trust has to be built; it’s a two-way street. You have to first ascertain whether you’re actually ready to delegate responsibilities to a VA. Then you have to be able to screen your short list and judge intangibles such as personality fit and attitude. Consider using test projects in your hiring process to help you select the right VA for your team.

7. NOT REALIZING VAs ARE MORE THAN COSTS ON A SPREADSHEET

Yes, it’s important to factor in the cost of hiring a VA; budgets must be balanced. However, it’s even more important to remember that when you hire a VA you’re really investing in a person, a new member of the team who can help take your business to new heights. Congratulate your VA on his or her successes. Keep your criticisms constructive. The VA you bring onto the team today could grow into a full-fledged project manager tomorrow. Nurture your investments and they’ll pay dividends in the future.

5 Signs You Desperately Need a Productivity Tool

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Image from Acclux.com

What does productivity mean to you? How do you manage to handle the tight deadlines and appointments that keep coming up? We are all terrible at maintaining a consistent level of productivity. You may find yourself juggling lots of responsibilities, workday spinning uncontrollably, feeling distracted, and simply procrastinating.

The best thing that can happen to anyone is being productive. In the words of Shawn Achor, “Happiness inspires productivity”. According to the Bureau of labor statistics, productivity in the business sector since 2007 has been consistently dropping.

We need productivity tools to streamline everything that needs to be done. How do you know if you need a tool?

Here are some signs that show you should start investing in a productivity tool to manage your productivity.

1. Your tasks are not running efficiently

There are some tasks of your job that are dull, repetitive and boring. You have to push yourself doing these tasks. When it comes to doing the work amazingly, you have to make sure you meet deadlines, reply to emails, and spend the right time in meetings. All of these things and more can be easily done, thanks to productivity software. If you don’t have productivity software and you are facing a steep fall in your efficient performance, it’s time to get one. You will be able to create tasks on your own efficiently and avoid an extra leg work on your already busy day!

2. No one knows what anyone else is doing

How do you know what you and your team is working on day in and day out? How do you know if they are overloaded or sitting idle browsing social media. It is required to have a quick glance over the workload to make the process of assigning tasks much simpler. If so, using a productivity tool will allow project managers to know who is working on which tasks, and if everyone is in loop. The tasks will be distributed equally, avoiding overloading and missing deadlines. In addition, it will also prevent employee burnout.

3. There are a lot of status-related questions

Often, it becomes frustrating for project managers to daily ask for updates on the status of the tasks. If you have to hold meetings just for checking the status of the project then you really need to get a software that displays the status of every ongoing and completed task. Everyone in the team, project manager and clients can have a quick look at the ongoing status of every task and know who is responsible for what. It saves a lot of time, effort and misunderstanding to have a check on which tasks are running late and who is not on track.

4. You are just cranking through

Today, more and more people are over occupied with various tasks that keeps them switching between tasks in order to complete faster. And in this process they lose focus and productivity. You get very little done and will mostly postpone doing some important things. This is why you need to have a project management tool where you can assign tasks based on priority to avoid multitasking. Whether working remotely or in the office, you will know when you need to focus.

Tip: Productivity tools come in a wide range of software to reduce the time you spend and increase the productivity.

5. You are using too many tools

There are countless number of tools coming up in the market, but it makes no sense to use more than one for your work. It just creates confusion and clutter. A project management tool will keep up all your needs of productivity, time tracking, maintaining a task list and everything you may need. Switch to one tool so you don’t waste your time hopping from one tool to other and get solutions at your fingertips.

Productivity is your duty

Pick a tool that fits your needs and you will be amazed to see the outcome when you combine productivity with technology. The true benefits of productivity tools will be visible the more you incorporate it into your workflow. Realize the full power of tool to make it possible for you to complete more projects in less time.

How do you increase your work efficiency without increasing your hours? Leave us a comment and let us know.

 

Vartika Kashyap is the Marketing Manager at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2017. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.

Remote Work Digest: July 18, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

The Rising Digital Workforce: Six Tips for Small Business Owners Managing Remote Workers | Chanell Turner, Myasbn.com

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Allowing employees to work from home is proven to lower the turnover rate and decrease real estate and overhead costs, two things from which small business owners can benefit. So, how do you help your employees manage this perk? Read on for six tips for working with and managing workers who work at home.

Establish Expectations

If done correctly, remote work can increase productivity and the overall employee performance. However, you have to be clear about what you are looking for from these workers. Is there a specified period during the day that they need to be accessible for calls? Are there specific programs you need them to use to track time worked? Whom do they need to contact if they need to take time off? It is crucial to be upfront about what you are looking for from them to ensure everything runs smoothly from the beginning.

Set-Up Regular Meetings and Short Check-Ins

It helps to carve out at least five to ten minutes a day for remote workers to ask questions and reveal what their projects are throughout the day. It also helps to meet with the entire staff at least once a week and involve remote workers through video or conference call. This act can help everyone feel they are on the same page.

Utilize the Right Tools

One of the best ways to do this is to invest in project management and virtual communication systems. Project management software programs allow you to delegate tasks, monitor progress and even project how long a job would take to complete. Many of these can be integrated with virtual communication systems that enable workers to talk with each other as they complete tasks. These programs allow remote workers to stay in the loop and reveal their progress throughout the week.

Be Wary of Time Zones

Communication is probably the most crucial part of ensuring a smooth and well-run work environment, and time plays a considerable role in this.

Make Sure They Feel as If They Are a Part of The Team

It is easy for remote workers to feel invisible, so take as many moments as possible to let them know you see how they are assets to the company. Also, make a point to include them in fun office activities creatively.

Final Thoughts

While sometimes challenging, the process of managing employees who work from home does not have to bring chaos. By setting clear expectations, putting communication front and center, and ensuring they feel like a part of the team you can set remote workers up to thrive in your company.

5 Foolproof Strategies To Find And Land Your Next Remote Gig | Abdullahi Muhammed, Forbes.com

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Before you can enjoy the benefits of being a gig worker, you have to get some of those gigs lined up. Quantity isn’t the issue. There are plenty of low-paying gigs out there. What can be challenging is finding jobs that are consistent and that pay a decent wage.

Then there’s the matter of competition. Predictions are that the freelance workforce will increase to 43% by 2020, and you can be sure a good number of those workers will be remote workers. To find good positions, you have to be savvy. Here are five foolproof strategies to help you get started.

1. Conduct a skills inventory first
The most effective way for a freelancer to land remote work is to think of herself as a small business and focus on marketability,” said Nancy Van Brunt, Director of Freelancer and Agency Success at Upwork. “The skills needed today are constantly evolving so those who are proactive about skill-related education and development are more likely to possess the skills businesses are seeking today.”

2. Browse both job search boards and communities
Don’t ignore the potential of niche online communities and organizations to help in your job search either. Many of these are a great source of advice and insights about the job search. Some even have job listings for members. You can also find recommendations from more seasoned gig workers. There are multiple subreddits dedicated to remote/freelance work on Reddit as well.

3. Develop you CV and portofolio
Your portfolio should include detailed information and images of your best work. Remember to keep it up to date. Don’t forget to optimize your portfolio for relevant search phrases as you’ll want it to be findable by potential clients. You’ll also want to create a great CV that lets potential employers know exactly what you can do for their business. The key here is to ensure that the most important elements stand out.

4. Research a company before signing on
Before you accept a gig, always research the entity behind the offer. If you’re going through a gig worker platform, check the poster’s profile. This is often easy as most gig worker platforms, which exist to match, create trust between and protect parties to a gig project, make it easy to see the track record of the job poster.

5. Plan and work for sustainability
There are two categories of gig workers. First, there are those who are happiest picking up one short term job after another and doing one off assignments. If this is you, chances are you don’t need to sweat the interview process. Just build your reputation and you’ll be in business for the long term. Then there are those gig workers who seek long term relationships with companies who hire remote workers. If you want to pick up longer term work with companies that hire remote workers, you should expect the recruiting and hiring process to work just as it does with regular employment. This includes being interviewed.

Be prepared to work the gig you land

It does no good to land that next gig if you aren’t prepared to work it. Make sure you have the following taken care of:

  • A workspace that allows you to be productive. Consider a home office, coffee shop, or coworking space.
  • An internet connection that you can count on. It may be time to upgrade to a business package if you plan to work from home.
  • The tools that you need. Is your computer up for the job? Do you have the right productivity apps, word processing software or video conferencing app?

Follow these tips, then ensure you are prepared to be effective and productive.

Wasted Employee Time Adds Up: Here’s How to Fix it | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

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This guide is for everyone else. While occasional breaks are great for the mind, excessive time waste leads to lost productivity, lower morale and decreased employee retention. Even employees who would otherwise be high performers can get caught in time-wasting traps, so leaders need to step in before things get out of hand.

To avoid low productivity and improve employee time management, follow these tips.

1. Set specific productivity goals.
People who don’t feel like they have the support of their managers are more likely to feel stressed than they are to feel motivated. Give workers the tools they need, and make yourself available for questions and feedback; then, step back and let employees work toward the goals you helped them set.

2. Schedule tasks in chunks.
The same type of work should take about the same amount of time to complete. Help employees create timelines for different types of projects so they know how quickly things should move across their desks.

When employees understand how long projects take and how long it takes to complete each piece, they don’t have to scramble at the last minute. This steady stream of effort prevents workers from falling into a cycle of working overtime to compensate for earlier procrastination.

3. Show employees how their work affects the whole.
Employees who waste time typically do so because they don’t see the point in working faster. To them, the company and their co-workers do just fine, no matter how well they do their job.

In this case, the issue isn’t about time management — it’s about employee engagement. Keep employees in the loop about what the company is accomplishing, and tie their work to those achievements. Recognize the contributions of outstanding employees and departments. Constantly communicate the mission of the company and how employees help further that mission.

Financial bonuses for a job well done are nice, but people respond even more positively to personal praise. Write handwritten thank-you notes to employees who go above and beyond. Include employees on customer communications when they solve a problem or provide great service. The more employees see the effects of their work in action, the more motivated they become to work hard.

Employee time management has a cumulative effect. Engaged employees who get things done inspire others to follow suit. Those who have little to do (and those who don’t do what they should) bring others down. Use this advice to develop an office filled with productive, time-conscious teammates.

11 helpful tips on how to balance working from home + #momlife | Danielle Braff, Mother.ly

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If you dream of being a working mom and stay-at-home mom, take some tips from these mothers who’ve made the most of flexible work options (and a whole lot of inner drive).

1. Be honest with your clients
If you’re working from home, be transparent about that from the get go. That way, if a child does burst into your office or the dog starts barking while you’re taking a call, you can just keep going without having to explain away the background noise.

2. Get a gym membership
A gym with on-site childcare is essentially an on-call babysitter, says Traci Kantowski, communications director with Trust Transparency Center. “I regularly take advantage of gym childcare when I need to be able to focus, or have an important call because I know my kids are cared for,” Kantowski says. Bonus: You can also actually just hit the gym.

3. Designate an area of your home for work
Kantowski’s children know they need to knock before entering her office, but not every family can devote an entire room to mom’s workspace. If all your bedrooms are full, you can still carve out a designated area just for your work, even in small spaces. Closets can make great compact work spaces, thanks to DIY ideas and products like this closet-to-office conversion kit from the Container Store.

4. Get a hotspot plan
For many mamas, working from home is appealing because it also allows us to be away from our desks. Ballet practice, carpool duty, library time—these are all things you can make time for when you’re not commuting, but you might have to squeeze in some work while chauffeuring the kids around.

Make sure your cell phone plan includes hotspot access, so you’ll be able to sneak in work time from the carpool line, the pool and the indoor playspace, Kantowski says.

5. Use electronics in case of emergency
Screen time guidelines suggest parents keep video time to a minimum, but, one work-at-home mom, Julianne Robicheau says sometimes a little screen time goes a long way to helping mama get her work done. Robicheau started her skin care company, Robi Luxury Skin Care, when her child was a year old, and says that, in a pinch, Ryder and his team of pups have come to save the day.

6. Let them help
Robicheau often lets her 4-year-old help her when it comes to photoshoots and putting together shipments. “I’m raising them to just roll with it,” she says, explaining that she even brings her kids to most business meetings. “I shot a marketing video with a videographer from home with both kids around,” Robicheau says.

7. Reserve special toys for key work moments
When her children outgrew napping, Stephanie Woodson, who writes sewing and craft tutorials for her web site, Swoodson Says, transitioned them to quiet time with audio books and puzzles in their room so she still had a chunk of the day to herself. “Reserving special toys or crafts for busy days is key: A sensory bin or magazine collage activity can keep them happy for a long time,” she says.

8. Share childcare with other work-from-home parents
If you know of other work-at-home-parents, you can swap children with them, giving each parent a day to work while the other parent watches everyone’s kids, says Swoodson, who did this many times.

9. Wake up early
Allison Carter, creator of Confetti Party Plans, wakes up an hour earlier than her children to set her daily goals, check her email and plan her social media so that when her children wake up, she gets to focus on breakfast knowing that she already accomplished something before she actually started her day.

10. It doesn’t matter where you’re working from
Sonja Thompkins is a homeschooling mother of a 5 1/2 -year-old and an online business coach for brick and mortar boutique owners. She says she uses her gym, the library, fast food restaurants or even the car to work—as long as her child is entertained, and even takes video calls.

11. Batch work when you can
Thompkins’ husband is an army reservist and a firefighter who works in 48-hour shifts. But when he’s home, he takes over so she can crank out as much work as possible. “I use a project management app to keep me focused on the tasks I need to accomplish, which is great for my productivity,” she explains.

If you’re just starting out as a work-at-home parent, you’ll soon figure out that you’ll need to adjust your expectations, your technique and your methods as your family grows.

In the end, it’s all about flexibility. And isn’t that what working from home is all about?

Remote Work Digest: May 9, 2017

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

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Image from https://www.pgi.com/blog/2017/07/why-remote-work-policies-fail-some-employers/

These 10 tips will help you enjoy working from home | Joshua Trudell, Rare.us

Having a home office and working from home can be a blessing and a curse. Here are 10 tips that’ll help you enjoy working in your own space.

1. Figure out tax repercussions

To write off home-office costs, you must use the area for work only and on a regular basis. You should be able to write off 100 percent of costs associated exclusively with your home office — everything from buying a work computer to office supplies.

2. Create a daily work schedule

If you work for one company, try to set well-defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without boundaries on your personal time. If you are a well organized self-starter with time management skills, you’ll be better off.

3. Keep your visibility high

People who work from home are often saddled with an unfair label that they can’t really manage others while working from home.  To help ward that off, make an effort to show-up on a regular basis for meetings and other office gatherings.

4. Be an extrovert

Co-workers can also be envious of your freedom, so make the effort to get out of the house and get in an out-of-the-office lunch or coffee with them to avoid the hard feelings.

5. Network electronically

Look into judicious use of social media – particularly those outlets that can relate to your profession, such as LinkedIn. Comment on posts and contribute your own to display your expertise and get that connected feeling.

6. Get dressed (or not)

If you’re going to be more comfortable and can stay focused on work while in jeans and a T-shirt – that’s one of the benefits of working at home. if you are going to be meeting or videoconferencing with co-workers or clients, you should dress appropriately.

7. Be prepared to be your own IT department

If you’re an employee, try to butter up someone in the IT department, who you can reach out to in a pinch. If not, invest in some training – possibly an inexpensive class at a community college or know the quickest route to the Apple store in your neighborhood.

8. Become familiar with web-based applications

Know the cloud, love the cloud – it’s your friend.

9. Don’t forget about insurance

Most home-business owners have little or no coverage from their homeowner’s policy. What’s more, if you file a homeowner’s (or renter’s) claim for losses that stemmed from an undisclosed home-based business, your insurer may not cover it.

10. Set up your computer so you don’t waste time online

Try setting up two user accounts – one for work, which allows the apps and sites you need to get work done, and another for personal use. If you continue to have issues, try getting a laptop for personal use and put it somewhere inconvenient during the day.

Make Your Workforce Smarter By Letting Them Work Remotely | Boris Dzhingarov, TgDaily.com

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In a society that has mostly valued hard work in the form of manual labor over the creativity and problem-solving of the mind, it’s rough being creative when your skillsets and talents don’t function on the typical work cycle of Monday through Friday from the crack of dawn until sunset. Thankfully, many tech industry employers are catching on to the need to allow their workers more freedom both inside and outside of the office. Companies like eBay, Facebook, Google, and even Apple – with their relaxed environments and remote work forces – are all setting an example of what it looks like to prepare for a future of absolute genius.

Problems are solved unconsciously

If you’re like most businesses, you probably have creative team members functioning in various roles who need to solve problems as part of their jobs. The dilemma is that solutions are not likely to come while they’re sitting at their desk looking busy. Solutions are found when the mind is not engaged in rational or deep thought. These solutions come at times when the conscious mind is free – in the car, in the shower, while taking a walk, or upon arising from a nap.

Getting the conscious mind out of the way

When the conscious mind is running the show, the prefrontal cortex is in charge. The prefrontal cortex provides the ability to focus and meet deadlines; however, it also kills creativity because when logical and rational thought are engaged, the brain brushes off creative solutions before the conscious mind picks up on them.

How freedom affects productivity 

Remote workers have been proven to be happier and more productive than those who work the traditional 9-5 schedule. Statistics show that the average 9-5 office worker only gets about 3 hours of work done per day. That’s a huge difference!

Traditional schedules don’t work for all-around

If you want to see better results in your business, before you buy the next best system for success, try allowing your staff to work from home a couple days out of the week. You’ll probably be surprised to see your staff’s happiness and productivity rise at the same time.

3 Ways Virtual Workers Make Organizations More Effective | Munira Rangwala, Yourstory.com

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Technology has made it possible for startups to hire the best talent from all across the world at sensible rates. Startups are recognizing the importance of creating and managing virtual teams and the big billion dollar companies are soon following suit. One survey reports that 73 percent of employees believe that the challenges that virtual teams pose are overshadowed by the benefits. Today, entrepreneurs are readily outsourcing duties that are not within the main scope of their business to virtual employees.

Here are three ways in which virtual workers make organizations more efficient.

Best talent available

If companies begin to feel that managing a virtual team is creating more work for them, they are bound to give up on the idea of remote working. The solution to this is to create a common framework so that managers as well as virtual employees can work together effectively once they have found each other. Virtual assistant companies do just that. They add an important layer of management to the freelance economy which benefits the companies that hire them and the talent that works for them.

Effective administration

Virtual employees are often better at operating social tools that help streamline teamwork and collaboration. This allows virtual workers to be effective at tasks that generate maximum value for their company.

Allotment of resources

By reducing the number of on-site employees, a lot of small and mid-size organizations are reconsidering the traditional office expenditures. However, virtual talent doesn’t come cheap. If companies want to hire the best, they should be open to shelling out larger paychecks.

If you still aren’t sure about outsourcing work, look at your motivations and see if they align with the benefits of outsourcing. Consider the amount of time, money, and management efforts outsourcing will save your company and only then go ahead with the decision.

How to Make an Awesome Remote Team | Kirsten Helvey, Fortune.com

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Here are some strategies for helping your own team work effectively, wherever its members may be:

Use the best collaboration tools

It can be easy for people to begin to feel disconnected and thus disengaged, so make sure you utilize the best technology to enhance your remote workplace.

Foster team spirit

The office should be a social place where relationships are built. Although it can feel awkward at first, video conferencing can really help remote teams get to know each other. Also, try to partake in employee celebrations for major milestones, such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and big accomplishments.

Flex your work schedule
Remote workers should have the freedom to choose not just when they work, but how they spend their work hours.

Engage with your manager

Regular check-ins with managers are foundation to successful remote working relationships. The more a manager understands your day-to-day activities, the better. I find that documenting tasks and goals for both the near term (weekly and monthly) and the long term (quarterly and annually) is crucial to staying on track.

Working remotely requires strong communication, established goals, and clear expectations. If you can stick to these guidelines, you’ll end up a happier and more engaged employee.

41 Things You Should Say “No” To To Become The Person You Want To Be In Life And Business

This article was written by Danny Forest, founder of Power Level Studios, an Ontario-based independent video game development company. With him (and his team) being full-time, remote workers currently creating the studio’s flagship game titled “Soul Reaper: Rise of the Unreaps” and “Soul Reaper: Unreap Commander,” he has seen his fair share of productivity and motivational issues. Find out how he combats these problems and how you can too with these tips.

Bonus: Say “No” to scrolling through photos of cute puppies on the internet.


A lot of people think “success” is about saying “yes” to the right stuff. Well, that’s one side of a coin. There are many things we say “yes” to that we really should be saying “no” to.

I do many things in life, and all that started with the 3 skills I learn every month. If you read the story, you would think I’m a “yes” man, but truth be told, I’m a professional “no” man.


Personality

1. Mediocrity

You’re almost always better than you think you are.

“I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocracy” — https://boldomatic.com/p/SRmdTA/i-d-rather-choke-on-greatness-than-nibble-on-mediocracy

2. Procrastination

Stop thinking, start doing.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” — Marcus Aurelius

3. Talking Shit About Yourself

Be positive. Don’t seek loathing, seek improvement.

“Don’t wish it was easier wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom.” — Jim Rohn

“Just remember; someone loves everything you hate about yourself” — Frank Ocean

4. Selfishness

Be a giver. Be happier.

“Selfish people end up having only their self.” — http://www.lovequotesmessages.com/selfish-quotes/

5. Perfection

Don’t waste time on perfection. Great is good enough.

6. Excuses

Ask why three times and you’ll know the real reason.

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses” — George Washington Carver

7. Always Comparing To Others

Spend time on self-improvement over fascination over competitors.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

8. Impulsive Decisions

Think deeper.

“Impulsiveness is the enemy of deep thinking” — https://www.askideas.com/60-best-thinking-quotes-and-sayings/


Health & Sleep

9. Unhealthy Food

The more you eat healthy, the tastier the food gets.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” — http://www.quotesofdaily.com/quote-on-eating-healthy/quote-on-eating-healthy-nice-and-funny-food-quotes/

10. Skipping A Meal

Your brain needs all the good nutrients it can get to function optimally. Eat better, not less.

11. Taking The Car

The grocery store is 15 minutes walk away? Walk to it!

12. The Snooze Button

Be so focused on achieving your goals and set tight deadlines and you won’t ever think about snoozing anymore!

“You Snooze, You Lose” — smart people

13. Partying Every Night

Enjoy a party, but don’t forget your goals, and resting of course!

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” — Oscar Wilde

14. Stimulants Before Bed

Don’t get in the way of a good sleep.

“Sleep is the best meditation” — Dalai Lama


Productivity

15. Long Commute

Waste as little time as possible on non-productive activities.

16. Distractions

When comes time to be productive. Shut any distractions down.

“You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things” — http://www.picturequotes.com/distraction-quotes

17. Blockers Of Personal Progress

Bad friend? Block. Netflix? Block. Video Games? Block. Unblock when comes time to unwind.

18. Reading Things You Don’t Enjoy

Seriously. You don’t have to finish everything you start! The author won’t know. Stop reading shit things, there’s too much great stuff out there!

19. Completing Useless Things

Plan things. Organize priorities. Do the ones that matter.

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” ~ Peter Drucker

20. Planning Things That Don’t Need Planning

Planning is great and all, but don’t forget to execute!

“Just do it!” — Nike


Relationships

21. Takers

Say “yes” to givers. Give yourself.

“Know the difference between those who stay to feed the soil and those who come to grab the fruit.” — https://www.pinterest.com/explore/takers-quotes/

22. Social Media

Uninstall the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps from your phone. BAM! I gave you back an hour of your day!

23. Talking Shit About Others

Always be honest. Don’t be a hater.

“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” — unknown

24. Listening To Complaints About Others

Gossiping is poisonous. Avoid people who spread it.

“Who gossips to you will gossip of you” — Turkish Proverb

25. Naysayers

If someone doesn’t have time for you, don’t find time for them. Relationships are mutual.


Work-Life Balance

26. Bad Routines

Don’t get stuck in a non-productive routine. You can change things around.

27. Meetings Without An Agenda

These tend to last too long and have no focus. No sense of direction. Avoid them.

28. Overly Long Team Meetings

Bring people back on track or leave. Seems rude, but in the long run, people will thank you for it.

29. Bad Clients

To hell with the good money. If a client is not good to you, focus your energy on the good clients.

“It is better to starve than get a bad client.” — Massimo Vignelli

30. Good

Say “yes” to great.

“Good is the enemy of great” — Jim Collins

31. Cluttered Environment

Have a clean workspace, both physically, mentally and on your computer.

32. Responding To Messages Ad-hoc

As much as possible set blocks of times to answer messages.

33. Doing Life Stuff At Work

Give your full attention to your work, it won’t go unnoticed.

34. Doing Work Stuff At Home

Give you full attention to your family, it won’t go unnoticed.

“When you work, work. When you play, play. Don’t mix the two.” — Jim Rohn

35. Doing Things You Can Delegate

Find your superpower, delegate the stuff that’s outside of it.

36. A Bad Business Partner

Communication is key. Work things out or walk away.

“I can’t control your behavior; nor do I want that burden… but I will not apologize for refusing to be disrespected, to be lied to, or to be mistreated. I have standards; step up or step out.” — Steve Maraboli


Other

37. Your TV And Couch

Make your environment uncomfortable so you can focus on the things that matter.

38. Waiting For Things You Don’t Need To

Coffee machine? A traffic light when there are other options? A file upload? Just do something else!

39. Things That Don’t Work Towards Your Goals

Question the things you do. Better yet, question it before you start it.

“If it’s not a Hell Yeah!, it’s a no” — Derek Sivers

40. Comparing Apples To Oranges

Don’t waste time comparing things that don’t compare. It’s it’s quantified or qualified using a different set of attributes, it’s not the same thing!

41. Your Cellphone

Top productive people set their phones on Airplane mode for most of the day. For me, it has become a brick of sorts.

“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.” — Steven Spielberg


Conclusion

Feel like saying “no” now?

You can start right away!

Learning to say “no” is a skill. Practice it. Master it. Become who you want to become.

You can do this!

Remote Work Digest: April 24, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

How to Transition Your Business from an Office-Based Company to a Remote One | Russell Smith, Business.com

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Remote working is becoming increasingly popular in business. It can drive down costs and improve employee happiness. But how do you make your company remote?

The desire for employees to work remotely is on the rise. Workers value the flexibility, and employers can save thousands on operational costs. If your employees all work from home, that means no office space to rent, no bills for food, no more electric bills to power your office equipment. It can also open you up to new avenues of online business.

Can you actually make your business remote?

Companies considering a move to remote operation need to perform an analysis of their brand and establish whether or not it is actually beneficial, or even realistic.

Considerations to make include:

  • Efficiency and practicalities. How will remote working impact your ability to complete the tasks you and your workforce normally perform? Will it speed things up, slow them down or maintain similar output levels?
  • Consumer satisfaction. Is an office or storefront part of your core service delivery process? If so, moving remotely may impact how your customers perceive the value of your company.
  • Investment. Going remote may require investment into staff, equipment and work tools.
  • Growth opportunities. Could going remote hinder your ability to grow? While it could be beneficial in some circumstances, operating a physical location within vibrant, industry-leading areas can be important to attracting investors and building relationships.

Consider your transitional strategy.

How should you go about doing this?

  • Identify goals. What are your goals for going remote?
  • How will you achieve those goals? Establish how you will use remote working to achieve the goals you’ve set.
  • Timeframes and deadlines. Set broad deadlines for establishing your remote business. Then set firm schedules and timelines for specific steps of the transition within those deadlines.
  • Announcement. Inform clients and employees of the change. Allow enough time for questions to be asked and decisions to be made. Some employees and clients may be against the shift. They must be given time either to adjust to the change or to move on from your business, allowing you to fill gaps now. This is beneficial to both them and your company.

Establish your software platforms.

Software exists to manage all facets of remote working life, covering everything already in place in your typical workplace headquarters.

  • Work connectivity. Cloud-based software allows you to connect your business to any location in the world. Many applications provide helpful tools for maintaining long-distance workplace connectivity.
  • Industry-specific software. Most industries have specifically tailored cloud-based software that supports remote work. You just have to do your research and find what works for your brand.
  • Task management. Task management apps enable management to establish task lists, set deadlines and monitor progress for both themselves and their team.
  • Time management. Time management apps exist to track everything from work logs to activity levels.
  • Client and team communication. There are many apps that work well for online workplaces, enabling multiple channels of conversation that range from direct messaging to large chatrooms with hundreds of individuals. You can also use video conferencing to add that personal face-to-face touch when chatting with clients or engaging in important internal conversations and meetings.

Test your remote work structure.

Plans on paper rarely translate perfectly to real-world scenarios. Therefore, to ensure your shift in direction doesn’t lead to calamity, a trial period is recommended. During this time, partial remote work should be exercised.

Depending on your business, this will take different forms:

  • If you have a large roster of clients and employees, split them up. Assign some clients and employees to continue working under the current office-based structure while others are moved to a remote work structure and practices.
  • For smaller companies, instead of transitioning some individuals to the new system, make a switch to part-time remote work and monitor the difference in processes.

Any issues that come up you can then evaluate and decide to either scrap the project or revisit the planning process, assessing better avenues based on feedback and performance. For example, you may find your software choices are ineffective in practice or that clients who initially responded positively to the idea are making the transition more challenging.

If you find remote working to be a triumph, now is the time to make the full commitment.

The 15 most surprising flexible jobs, according to Flexjobs | Kathleen Lavine and Rebecca Troyer, Bizjournals.com

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Not the 9-to-5 grind, these flexible jobs may surprise you.

Listed by Boulder-based Flexjobs, these varied positions — which go far beyond general office work or data entry — could involve telecommuting, freelance gigs or part-time work.

Here are 15 of the most surprising flexible jobs:

  1. Senior Food Stylist. Responsible for styling food and kitchenware products for photo shoots.
  2. Music Researcher. Handles responsibilities including recording music performances, conducting in-person research in businesses, photographing locations, and completing detailed reports.
  3. Gameplay tester. Responsibilities include helping discover creative approaches to various game features, identifying bugs, creating & executing test cases for specified features, and communicating issues & risks.
  4. Medical illustrator. Develops editorial imagery required for new products.
  5. Senior voice recording transcriber. Transcribe 30 to 60 minute audio files into transcripts that are near verbatim, differentiation between interviewer and participants’ remarks.
  6. Animal behavior counselor. Handles tasks such as providing on-scene behavioral trauma documentation, conducting behavior evaluations, reviewing and editing forensic behavior reports, participating in media interviews, and other assigned duties.
  7. Archivist. Lead projects, convert data and work to engage audiences.
  8. Mammalogist. Develop survey and research projects, identify informational needs, communicate information, and assist land managers.
  9. Opioid program specialist. Assists with developing or revising contracts, grant applications, and/or state and federal reports.
  10. Investigator – Civil rights. Responsible for completing investigative and mediation activities.
  11. Oceanographer. Lead, analyze, interpret, portray and input technical data, prepare environmental impact statements, serve as program lead.
  12. Organic certification specialist. Performs technical reviews of crop, wild crop, livestock, or processor applications.
  13. Pig idea and policy officer and stakeholder coordinator. Manages and supports implementation initiatives and queries that arise from users.
  14. Role player, assessment practice. Conducts phone-based role-play exercises and rates participants at a virtual assessment center.
  15. Construction control representative (civil). Responsible for overseeing dam modifications and civil construction projects.

Flexjobs also maintains a list of 50 current “surprising” flexible jobs as well as a database of the 50 most surprising jobs based on 10 years of aggregated research. Here’s the full report.

How To Tune Out Distractions & Get Things Done With These 6 Simple Tricks | Caroline Burke, Elitedaily.com

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When you work in an office, there are plenty of distractions that can get in the way of you doing your literal job, from noisy co-workers, to blasting music, to that “open workspace” vibe, which basically invites everyone to come talk to you at your desk every five minutes. But even if you work from home, there are distractions you have to avoid there, too, like playing with your pet floof, or toggling over to Netflix for 10 minutes or so for a “quick” break.

Here are six quick tips for drowning out the daily noise of your life and getting sh*t done faster.

  1. Invest In Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Sometimes the easiest way to get rid of distractions is to literally block them out. Investing in a clutch pair of headphones that block out the external noise of your life doesn’t have to bankrupt you, either; there are plenty of noise-cancelling headphones under $100 for you to consider.

  1. Schedule A Work-From-Home Day When Things Get Really Hectic

Working from home ensures you can actually run your day the way you want to, without dealing with unexpected meetings or co-workers who drop by “for a second” just to talk. You probably won’t be able to work from home all the time, depending on what you do, but taking that day for yourself every once in a while can definitely help you get back on track with your productivity.

  1. Use Your Calendar To Block Out Time On Your Schedule

Even if it’s purely for the visual aspect of it all, blocking out time on your calendar could be enough to a) keep people at work from bothering you, and b) organize your time in a way that ensures you get everything done, distraction-free.

  1. Map Out Exactly What You Need To Do Before You Do It

Consider taking time each evening to write down a set of notes about what you need to get done the next day. That way, you won’t have to waste time scrolling through calendars or asking your co-workers what they need from you.

  1. Organize Your Workspace With A Minimalist Vibe

Unless your brain only works via a series of sticky notes, try keeping your desk as minimalist as possible, allowing you to move through your workday without feeling totally overwhelmed by the clutter. Or keep it totally messy, if that’s what makes you feel better! It’s all about finding the environment that makes you feel best as you work.

  1. Be Honest With Friends and Co-Workers

Although it might feel awkward to tell someone to go away, everyone understands the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to get done, and for that reason alone, it might be best to be totally honest with your co-workers and friends about needing that distraction-free time.

Consider telling them you need an especially quiet day to get through all of the bullets on your to-do list, or opting to work during lunch to take advantage of the quiet and taking your break when everyone else comes back.

Tips to manage remote employees | Chris Smith, Knowtechie.com

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Remote work and freelancing is not all guts and glory and can become quite stressful for people. While this is rarely the case, there are ways to fix these issues and improve the relationship between managers and remote employees. Let’s explore some strategies.

Optimize Your On-Boarding Process

With proper expectations in place, remote employees are equipped with the skills and knowledge they require to succeed at a job. Create goals and timelines for projects and run new remote employees through the ropes to see how well they handle it and how on time each task comes in.

Create a Unified Culture

With a unified company culture, you can immediately weed out the weeds who don’t fit into your organization and don’t believe in its mission.People are motivated to work for companies they feel are larger than themselves. Create a sense of pride and direction for each employee, regardless of their status, to motivate them to do more. Loyalty and community lead to leadership and increased collaboration.

Leverage the Right Telecommunication Tools

There are so many tools out there to keep up with remote employees and communicate in real-time. Skype is an obvious one, but Slack is another great alternative that many companies now leverage. 43% of the nation’s richest 100 companies use Slack. For companies that rely on remote crews, crew trackers and attendance management systems allow managers to keep track of employees by location and project status.

Communicate Emotion in Chats

When you can’t communicate in real time, try to keep communication light and fun. It may sound stupid, but use gifs and emojis to convey emotion to freelancers and remote workers to make them feel a part of the team. Be sure to give praise when earned through emojis and announcements on Slack.

Be Flexible, But Keep a Backbone

Finally, it’s important to set schedules and deadlines for remote workers to adhere to. But you mustn’t forget the purpose of remote work, which is the ability to complete assignments freely and on your own timeline. Offer remote workers the freedom they need to work a night shift busting out content instead on the 9-5 grind. Of course, don’t let that mean remote workers are too free to give you the work months behind because they finally got to it.