How to Maintain Punctuality as a Remote Worker
Onsite workers may jest that remote folks have an unfair advantage when it comes to being on time and the ability to maintain punctualtiy. Sure, life is quite a bit easier without a commute. There are no delays due to traffic or inclement weather, and pretty much no excuse for a later starting time aside from flaky Wi-Fi or a prearranged flexible schedule.
You’re simply firing up that laptop in your everyday work attire or pjs…heck, you might even start work early!
But there’s more to working remotely than simply showing up. Time management takes on a whole new context when you are the overseer of your day, and likely the scheduler of your workweek. Being successful in a flexible role requires great self-discipline.
Here are three steps to maintain punctuality and build a routine that works for you and your employer:
(If you’re self-employed, of course, the routine will need to be amenable to your client base.)
1. Create a real sense of urgency.
- Start by setting helpful notifications. No matter what scheduling mechanism you use—Calendly, Google Calendar or a good old fashioned planner—it’s critical that you make sure your calendar notifications are actually working for you. Input project due dates with three to four days of buffer time prior to the hard deadline. Parse your calendar out so that you set aside a minimum of 15 minutes between scheduled calls or video meetings. Use these brief bursts of time in your schedule to acclimate to the next strategic item or project that you’ll be discussing, honing in on the desired takeaways from that conversation.
- Next, chunk your meetings, as best you can, into blocks of two to three hours. Keep those 15 minute breaks for bathroom, coffee refills, or final preparation. Working with folks from a variety of time zones may make this especially challenging, but the point here is that you’ll have a set period of time available for stand-ups, ongoing meetings, and any ad hoc calls. Outside of that time, you’ll be able to focus on your tasks, rather than deal with cognitive switching from conversations to actual work.
2. Set reachable weekly goals.
- Establish your list of deliverables for the week and work backwards. Compare your monthly and quarterly goals with tasks that you’re able to tackle and cross off your list on a week-to-week basis. In doing so, you’ll be combatting one of the top fears of remote managers: that “unseen” employees will slack on the job. Seasoned remote workers know that nothing could be further from the truth, as those who are location-independent are fully aware that they’re being judged on the quality of their output, not the effort they put into the work. Remote work is a meritocracy. Propel yourself forward by setting—and meeting—your work commitments.
- Make your goals visible to others. Show your progress through a visible medium such as a project management tool or checklist. You’ll be more likely to work to move the needle forward. Why? When you make tasks and goals transparent to others, it serves as a powerful motivator. No one likes to feel as if they’re behind on delivering. Beyond that, you won’t actually be sprinting toward the finish line alone. Other team members, as well as your supervisor, can see what you’re up to, pose or answer questions, and remove any roadblocks. Goal setting doesn’t just prioritize your own work; it actually enables you to move farther, faster.
3. Share your schedule with others.
- Remember that “sharing is caring”—especially in remote work. Many virtual companies’ blogs espouse the benefit of going above and beyond, a term they’ve coined as “overcommunicating,” to ensure that team members in far-flung places are on the same page. Setting expectations with regard to your availability serves three purposes: you’ll be subjected to increasingly fewer ad hoc meeting requests, others will know when and how they can get ahold of you, and (last but certainly not least), you’ll build a reputation as a professional who highly values his or her time.
- Guard your time like an executive assistant. Be open about your scheduling preferences, and once you’ve established a consistent routine, set boundaries that protect it. There will be occasions when you may need to adjust, but otherwise, reserve instances of total flexibility for major organizational events or emergencies. Your colleagues and clients will understand and appreciate knowing when you’re typically available—and the next time you kick off a big project, you’ll breathe easier knowing that you’ve set aside plenty of uninterrupted time to make progress.
By Kristi DePaul | May 1, 2017 | Categories: Work Remotely