Advances in technology have created something of a worker's revolution. Email, smartphones, online workspaces, and more connect us in a way that was once unimaginable. Changing attitudes about where and when work should get done have resulted in newfound freedom for workers.

No longer are they chained to the same drab office day in and day out. The confluence of factors has created a remote worker who can get the job done anywhere. That is, if they can stay focused long enough to remain productive.

It turns out freedom and technology are a double-edged sword. There're a plethora of pitfalls that can kill workflow faster than Usain Bolt could run the 100-meter dash. This guide will provide some strategies for cutting through distractions and staying on target as a remote employee.



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Working From Home

Perhaps one of the most popular options for many workers. Wake up, throw on some sweatpants, and start working. There's no commute and only minimal oversight at best. Staying on target requires discipline, which is why the work from home crew should:

Stick To A Schedule — Sure, there's an opportunity to wake up at noon and ease into work at a snail's pace. A more effective strategy, though, is to wake up early, exercise, take care of the "home stuff," then get on the ball. This will eliminate the temptation to try and juggle too much when it's time to work. Exercise primes the body and mind for peak functionality. A balanced breakfast can provide the fuel to kickstart early-morning activity. Those more productive at night can adjust this routine to prepare for a focused session of night work.

Get Dressed — The clothes make the man (or woman). As part of the routine, it's important to shower and dress as if one were heading into work. It's a psychological effect. People will tend to adopt the characteristics of the clothing they're wearing. Sweats or track pants lend themselves to laying down on the couch. Business attire lends itself to productivity.

Set Your Own Goals — There may be some broad goals set by the boss. Specific goals, though, are often at the discretion of the remote worker. As such, they should commit to what they want to achieve, make a list of daily benchmarks, and try to hit as many as possible.

Have A Dedicated Workspace — It doesn't necessarily have to be an office. It does, however, need to facilitate work. A good computer, natural lighting, low noise level. The home workspace should be comfortable, but professional at the same time.

Get Out The House For a Moment — Sitting at the workspace all day is a great way to lose track of time and sanity. Schedule time to make contact with the outside world. Popular mid-day break spots include the store, park, and anywhere else that isn't home.

Set Boundaries — Distractions can appear in the form of the spouse, the kids, or even the pets. They need to understand that work time should rarely, if ever, be interrupted.

Hold The Calls — Not the whole day, but for part of the day. There should be a solid block of time for zero contact to improve focus. This advice applies to checking email as well. Forbes recommends only checking it a few times throughout the day.


Working From A Cafe

Another popular work spot. The cafe provides an opportunity to mingle with other remote workers while siphoning the free WiFi. In this location, it is best to:

Become Familiar With The Surroundings — This means getting to know the layout of the shop. It's also helpful to have a chat with the owner and staff to develop a rapport.

Not Drink Too Much Coffee — Too much will result in frequent bathroom breaks and no work getting done.

But Still Order Enough — Not ordering enough will give one the appearance of a cheapskate coming to steal WiFi.

Choose A Quiet Table — It will allow for greater focus on work.

Set A Timeline — It's tempting to come into a shop and sit down all day. Instead, set goals for when things should get done and when it's time to leave. To add a sense of urgency, leave the computer charger at home. Tracking time with a timeclock online can help maintain honesty.

Be Polite — There are probably other people working in the shop. Being polite isn't just common sense, it's a chance to scope out new business opportunities as well.

Clean Up When It's Time To Go — The alternative is developing a reputation as a messy patron. No one wants to be a messy patron.


Working On The Commute

Not exactly the ideal space for productivity. Still, there are ways to maximize time spent on the road.

Prepare For Sparse Connectivity — There's little WiFi on the commute. Activities here should be mostly offline.

Concentrate On The Small Stuff —Organizing files, tightening up a document or two. Things that might get left undone during the day but could add some polish to a project.

Plan Some Moves — Alternatively, the commute is a nice time to make a list of everything that needs to get done.

Build Some Skills — The commute offers time to work on courses, do some training, etc.

Network — For public transport commuters, there are plenty of other workers on the bus/train who could become associates in the future.

Have Some Fun — It's a very good time to catch up on reading, listening to an album, or just clearing the mind for the day ahead.

Keep It Paperless — Shuffling through papers is messy. Anything done during the commute should be strictly electronic.


Working At A Shared Workspace

These are one of the most interesting developments of the past few years. The co-working space allows for independent workers to collaborate in a shared location. The theory is that like minds can achieve more in each other's presence. Tips for making the most of these areas include:

Trying Out Different Spots — Not every shared space is the same. Some fit certain personality types better than others.

Seeing What Work Gets Done Where — As a result, some spaces will lend themselves towards completing certain tasks. Taking time to discover which spots are conducive for what work is critical.

Developing A Routine — When frequenting a particular co-working spot, try to arrive at a set time, get the same desk, and stick to a somewhat rigid work schedule.

Interacting With Others — With the number of people using shared spaces, interaction is inevitable. A savvy worker plans on this, and dedicates part of their time spent working, and another portion socializing.

Learning To Filter Distraction — Shared spaces can get noisy. Being able to work in spite of the chatter is a must.

Respecting The Common Areas — These include the kitchens, bathrooms, etc. Getting along with the others in a shared space means not making a mess.

Know When To Book — There are peak hours where things will be the most active, and off hours where the space is more relaxed. Find out when these are and plan accordingly.


Working At The Office

Sometimes, the office will come-a-calling. These strategies will help in avoiding the dreariness of the conventional workplace:

Take Some Time To Get Going — Instead of jumping right into the cesspool that is the email inbox, take a moment to get situated and plan the day.

Organize Tasks — Things tend to go much smoother when goals are clearly defined in a visual form.

Prioritize The Hardest Tasks — This will free up the latter part of the day for cooling down and preparing to leave on time. This one's particularly important and will help you get more done than you previously thought possible. Probably why it consistently appears on productivity tip lists, including this one from Entrepreneur:

"By scheduling your most important task of the day first, you set the tone for the rest of the day, and your business will move forward with incredible speed."

Do One Thing At A Time — Trying to multi-task in an office environment is next to impossible.

Take Time For Small Talk — Building bonds with co-workers is important.

But Learn When To Ignore People — Sometimes, though, they need to be put on the back burner so more important tasks can be completed.

Move Around — Staying in one spot all day is not conducive to productivity. Get up, change the scenery, and reset to maximize work output.


Working From Anywhere

These tips can enhance any workspace:

Don't Lollygag — It's easy to get distracted by social media and the like. Turn it off, at least during work time.

Set The Mood — The workspace affects output. It should reflect personal tastes and lend itself to calm and focus. Customizing it with some pictures, plants, or collectibles are just a few ways to make a workspace more welcoming.

Drown Out The Noise — In any environment, a set of headphones and a good playlist can go a long way in improving concentration.

Take Care Of Your Body — It's easy to overlook, but a poorly maintained body does sloppier work, in general. Exercise, nutrition, and sleep can provide more energy to tackle important projects.

Stay Up On Current Technology — There's always a new app or gadget that can aid in the completion of a task. Knowing what's out there and making use of it can boost workflow immensely.

Stay Positive — Never underestimate the power of a good mood. Staying positive helps block distractions that could put a damper on getting things done.

Know When To Fold 'Em — Setting limits can be difficult, but it's essential to avoid overwork. Trying t do too much can cause burnout, a surefire way to stop any and all work in its tracks.