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Remote Work - How I Organize Time and Tasks

In this text, you will learn about my personal experiences working from home, how I manage to organize my time and different obligations, and whether the remote job suits me or not.

Apr 22nd, 2024


Original date: Apr 22nd, 2024

Remote Work - How I Organize Time and Tasks

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For the previous three or four years, working from home was not only a matter of personal choice but also an obligation due to the horrible epidemiological situation around the world. However, this way of working became extremely popular and continued to "live" even after the coronavirus era. Of course, whether someone works from home or not is influenced by the objective circumstances under which the job is done, if the person works in an international or domestic team, whether it's easier (not to mention more profitable) for the employer not to pay office fees and contributions, whether the working hours are fixed or flexible and similar.

I have been personally familiar with this concept of work since 2019, in that happy time when we couldn't even imagine what would happen to all of us just one round around the Sun later. Two years before that, when I started my career in digital marketing, I only worked from offices, and I didn't hope that one day I would be able to work from my own workspace. But then, at one point during the spring of 2019, a good opportunity opened up for me to start working for a company from the USA, and that's when my remote story began, and it continues to this day.

Although I knew several people who successfully worked from home even before I stepped into the world of remote workers myself, to be completely honest, at first, I was a bit scared and worried about many details. I had doubts about how I would organize my time while working from home, whether I would be focused and productive enough, and whether my equipment was good; I also wondered what to do if the neighbors made noise during my working hours, and I tortured myself with many other dilemmas. On the other hand, I liked the idea that I could sleep longer, avoid the morning rush hours in Belgrade, and not have to go outside in the rain and snow.

Over time, I began realizing more and more that this way of working is the best possible option for me because I feel the most comfortable in it, and I manage it much better than a classic office job. Although I had some difficulties at the very beginning and didn't do everything in the right way, once I found a method to organize myself as quality as possible and put things on the right foundations, my experience of remote work started to change drastically, and I became much more satisfied with everyday workflow.

Good Organization as a Key to Success

Like most other things in life, working from home has pros and cons, and it's just a question of how one manages in this kind of working environment. As I mentioned, at first, I was filled with anxiety, worry, and doubt. Still, they quickly turned into gratitude that I can organize my workdays how I want and see fit and that I don't have to depend on other people's moods and the atmosphere that can often be unpleasant/toxic in offices.

The keyword related to practical work from home is a good organization. When working from a company's office, many things are prepared and arranged in advance, so it's unnecessary to think about certain aspects, like when working from your apartment or home. Working from home is generally done in a similar interval as working from the office, i.e., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so this means that you need to plan how early it's enough to wake up, when to drink coffee, when to take lunch breaks, and so on. In addition, you should arrange your own workspace, get a high-quality desk, chair, and work equipment, and generally create a pleasant business environment as possible.

Remote workers must take into account several different aspects in order to be truly effective. I have found it quite challenging to find the best methods for creating the perfect home working atmosphere, and along the way, I have encountered some mistakes and blunders. However, after five years since I started working this way, I've come up with a reliable recipe that suits my needs and habits.

Getting Ready for the Work

From my own experience, as well as from the experiences of my colleagues who work similarly, I know that one of the biggest challenges when it comes to working from home is that it's not always easy to motivate yourself to prepare, dress up and do work at your desk the way it's usually done in the office itself. As a result, many are tempted to work from bed, in their pajamas, and completely disorganized, which can negatively affect focus and productivity. Even if no one calls you during working hours, or if you don't have meetings every day and don't have to leave the house while working, this is in no way an excuse to act like it's the weekend and not encourage yourself to create a professional work environment for yourself.

Some people are even surprised when I say that every morning before starting work, I put on makeup (at least a little) and perfume and dress professionally, at least to a certain extent. Of course, this isn't something that is expected and required of me, but it helps me start the working day in a healthy way and allows me to feel much better, which ultimately affects my efficiency at work.

Setting up a Professional Workpace

Another thing I did during my long-term experience in remote work, which also meant a lot to me, is converting an entire room in the apartment into a home office that serves only that purpose and where I stay full-time during my working hours. Every morning, when I step into the office, I feel I am in a real and serious workplace, allowing me to focus more easily on work and finish my current work duties faster.

I arranged the office by getting a special desk that has enough length and width for all my needs, and in such a way that I can work with two screens, from which one is a classic monitor, and the other belongs to a laptop that serves me as well for separation of the tools I work with and a more efficient tasks distribution in general. About a year and a half ago, I had a bad habit of not always working at a desk but often sitting in an armchair with a laptop on my lap, which was quite harmful to my work performance and back. :) Over time, as the volume of work increased, I realized that it was necessary to change something in my daily work habits, which soon gave me results and helped me progress in what I do.

Limitation of Interfering Factors

An additional and essential aspect of working from home is the art of preventing or at least limiting, everything that could interfere with work and make it difficult to concentrate. By these factors, I mean a wide variety of things, such as neighbors who renovate their apartment and make noise, pets who live with you and are often louder than they should be, other housemates who can enter your room while you are having an important meeting, and similar. When working from the office, many things are already "under control," and apart from colleagues who work in the same space and can hinder your productivity, there aren't many other circumstances that could be a problem.

Working from home, in addition to all the benefits, also brings that one obligation and responsibility that you will be the one who will take care of that, as few things as possible, threaten your personal way of working and privacy. This is also the most challenging part of remote work precisely because only some things are in your (our) hands, and it's impossible to organize everything in an ideal way. For example, sometimes it happens to me that a neighbor decides to fix a broken lock on the bathroom at 1 pm or that the neighbor's dog barks continuously for several hours, and these are really aspects that I don't have much influence over (apart from occasional requests and complaints). On the other hand, what I can influence is that while I have business conversations and pre-scheduled meetings, no one suddenly enters the office room, and I don't encounter any additional distractions that can disturb me. I can't (and I don't want to) get nervous about things I can't change and control, and I save my nerves for what I can do to help me obtain and give the best possible business results.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Working from Home - Summarized

Now that I have listed several important points related to working from home and explained how I try to organize myself during remote work, I can briefly summarize everything that I consider to be the biggest advantages and disadvantages of this type of business.

As some of the most significant advantages I would highlight:

  • Work from your own home and an environment that is created according to personal measurements.
  • The opportunity to work from your office where there are fewer distractions.
  • Work on a personal computer and, in most cases, more advanced technology that can be outdated in offices.
  • The chance to eat healthier, because you can cook something during working hours.
  • Easier and faster organization of work duties.
  • The possibility to do non-work-related things during working hours (for example, waiting for package delivery, bill payment, etc.).
  • A greater level of independence and responsibility in everyday work.

Aspects i can mention as potential flaws:

  • Lack of contact with other people.
  • Occasional difficulties working with other team members at a distance (different time zones, long waits for feedback, and similar).
  • Difficulty in setting a precise limit between working and free time.
  • Getting used to a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical movement.
  • Diminished sense of teamwork and potential issues in connecting with colleagues.
  • Reduced productivity.

Is Remote Work Ideal for Everyone?

From the many things I wrote about in this text, it could be easily concluded that I think how working from home is the absolute best possible business option and that everyone should work precisely this way. The reality, however, is different, so even though this working method is entirely suitable for me, it doesn't mean it's ideal for everyone's needs. I know many people who function much better at working from the office, and remote work somehow suffocates and limits them.

I can also feel certain shortcomings that I have listed before, but I am aware that one should accept the fact that nothing in life can be perfect, including work. The essence is only to find the most optimal way of working that corresponds to individual characters, personalities, needs, and habits.

My opinion about remote work, based on many years of experience, is that it can perfectly suit only those who are ready to work independently, make their own decisions, and know how to organize well, as well as for those who function more quickly when they work without other people and outside the big team. On the other hand, those who want to collaborate with colleagues while working on different projects, who are hyperactive and need daily physical activity, as well as those who find it easier to do their work if they get quick answers and instructions, would probably not like this way of working a lot.

To be sincere and to bring this text to an end, after trying to work from the office in both a small and a large company, as well as with the extensive experience I have in working from home, I could say that, if it were possible, I would opt for some kind of hybrid work. In this way, the best of both worlds would be obtained, and independent work would be ideally combined with occasional social contact, which is perhaps the most lacking thing in remote work. But, considering that "business heaven" doesn't exist, we have to make the most of what we have and what is currently available to us, so I hope that I will successfully continue finding the recipe for good organization and efficient work-from-home for a time to come. And whether I will work this way for the rest of my career remains to be seen. :)