Whether you're sick, have car trouble, or just became a full-time remote employee, you may find yourself working from home some day. But while simply plopping down on the couch or kitchen table with a laptop might seem like a good idea, a lack of structure could seriously cramp your productivity, or, could even stress you out. Here's how to stay on top of your game when working remotely.
A. Recognize Your Distractions, Then Eliminate Them
When working remotely, start the day by addressing distractions and eliminating them. Enticed by the TV? Work in a room without one. Your phone? Set it on loud, but in a different room. Removing these triggers allows you to hunker down and focus on your outputs for the day. Additionally, remember to take breaks, just like you would in the office, to keep fatigue from setting in. - Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
A. Prepare an Outline of Priorities
When an employee notifies you that they will be working remotely for the day, have a set of guidelines for them to follow. This way, they’re aware of the expectations that are set for them. This guideline will keep them focused while they work remotely, and help to decrease any distractions. - Stanley Meytin, True Film Production
A. Decide Ahead of Time What Needs to Be Done
Clarify what tasks need to get done when you first start your workday. I like to write them down on a Post-It and stick it to my laptop, so it’s always a visible reminder. Plus, I can cross them off when they’re done, which feels great. You can also share them with a colleague or your manager, so they can help hold you accountable. - Mamie Kanfer Stewart, Meeteor
A. Be Punctual and Responsive
Working remotely requires extreme punctuality with meetings and deadlines because of the stop-and-start nature of virtual work. Lack of timeliness or quick responses from a remote colleague can be frustrating and unproductive, since you can't just go over and ask for something in person. The worst thing is to be stuck waiting for something with no sense of how long you'll be waiting. - Roger Lee, Captain401
A. Dress for the Day Anyway
When working from home, I've found it's better to get started by going through my morning routine all the way up to dressing for the day as if I was spending time in the office. It helps me get and stay in the mood to work, and I'm appropriately dressed for any facetime events that might happen throughout the day. - Matt Doyle, Excel Builders
A. Keep a Distraction List
It's easier to procrastinate when working from home, so I keep a distraction list. If I feel distracted or an irrelevant thought comes to mind, I write it down, and go right back to what I was doing. Writing it down helps get it out of my head, and allows me to focus on work. When I'm done with work, I can tackle what I've written on my distraction list if it's important, which is usually isn't. - Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.
A. Make Meals Ahead of Time
A lot of people who work from home are used to bringing lunches or going out. When you work from home, you may actually forget to eat, so plan and make meals ahead that you can just heat up. It may seem silly, but it's important: Not eating can really slow the brain and body down, creating sluggishness that works against productivity. - Peter Daisyme, Due
A. Take Time to Get Out of the 'Office' When at Home
It's when you step away from your work and do something completely different — even a boring chore — that's when the most brilliant ideas often emerge. Plus, as a human, you can only hold your attention span for so long. That's why it's vital to take breaks and enjoy the outside world during the workday. Especially when you're in the comfort of your own home, you have to make an effort to do this. - Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital
A. Keep Your Office Work Schedule
Do your best to mimic your normal work environment and schedule at home. This is the easiest way to ensure a similar level of productivity. From morning routines to breaks and lunchtime, you should pretend that you are at the office. Without a clear-cut schedule, it's very difficult to stay on task and not get sidetracked by the many distractions that exist at home. - Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck
A. Keep Daily Deadlines the Same
Working remotely isn't an invitation to flex time in all cases. If something is usually done by noon, you should still do it by noon for the sake of people who are taking it to its next stage. Everything that should be done for the day should be finished already when closing time comes for the rest of us. - Adam Steele, Loganix
A. Silence Your Phone
It’s easy to get distracted when your phone keeps beeping or buzzing. Checking a quick text can lead to checking social media, reading the news, and before you know it, an hour has gone by. Avoid distractions and set your phone to silent. - Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.