Month: August 2016

5 tips to make working from a coffee shop more productive

OrganizationTelecommutingWork From HomeWorking Remotely

When you work from home you’re bound to get stir-crazy every now and then. You’re in the same space, all day, every day. You’re there before, during, and after you login and logout; Monday – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You sleep, eat, and relax there. You get the point. Yes, while it’s certainly nice to be in your own space, when you’re there all the time it can take a toll.

The good news is if you’re a remote employee you likely have the option to take your work on the go and get out of the house at times. Shared workspaces are popping up more and more which are a great option but if you’re not keen on paying for a place to work (or don’t want to be in an office) there’s nothing like a bustling coffee shop for a change of pace and to get your creative juices flowing. But since coffee shops are not your own space and because they’re all a little different, there are a few things you should take into consideration before planning to tackle a whole, or part of an, 8 hour workday at one.

Here are 5 tips to have the most productive day possible when you work from your local caffeine watering hole:

  1. Don’t do it when you have a ton of calls. Coffee shops are great. They have freshly brewed specialty drinks and make drip better than you probably do at home, you can get your sugar fix with a tasty pastry (if you’re lucky maybe they have good Quiche), plus they’re loaded with personality and energy, and have people watching–great, great people watching. They also have the noises and chaos of coffee beans being ground, lattes and smoothies being made, and people in the middle of conversations. If you have a long block of phone calls it might be best to find a more suitable, quiet location; the participants on the call you’re leading will thank you.
  2. Scope it out, and specifically test out the wifi. Again, coffee shops are great. They have all of the above plus free wifi. But not all wifi is created equal. And for the remote employee who relies on a strong internet connection, connectivity problems can ruin an otherwise productive day. Whenever possible test out the wifi with your work device(s) before you plan to camp out somewhere. Pro-tip: go even further and test out logging into your VPN if you have it. You want to be sure that you don’t have any issues connecting to a specific network, especially if it’s non-secured. If you have any problems inquire with your IT department; spare your baristas from your complaints and request to reset the router, it’s likely not the coffee shop but rather your machine/restrictions and can often be solved with a few tweaks to your VPN login settings (I couldn’t tell you what exactly since I contacted my IT team 🙂 )
  3. Be sure the space will suit you. When you’re checking out the wifi and Quiche situation also spend a moment taking in the general lay of the land. What’s the atmosphere like? Specifically what are the workspaces like that you’ll have access to? Will you be able to have your own counter or does the shop have a shared space culture so even if you arrive first and score the big table in the back there’s a chance college students will come join you and have a study group a foot away? Does this even matter to you? Only you know what you need to work/function best. Consider this before you change your work environment even just for a morning.
  4. Come prepared….with snacks. Paying for a few cups of Joe a day can add up. Not to mention that specialty drink, a bottle of water, the banana that was perfectly ripe, a single pack of cashews during your mid-afternoon slump, and the artisan avocado toast you had to have after seeing the guy next to you devour his. Just like you might plan to bring snacks and a lunch to an office plan for meals while working from a coffee shop. It’s poor form to bring your own coffee but bringing a sandwich and some light fare is completely acceptable and will keep you (and your wallet) fueled and full.
  5. Don’t forget your juice. Along with a spotty internet connection one thing that can really put a damper in your attempt to work away from your desk is when you’re in a groove on a project only to get an alert that your battery is low. No problem, right? Simply dig into your bag to grab your charger but, boom! Not there. Do yourself a favor and always double check that you have all your power cords. Don’t think that you’re going to be out of the house long enough to need to re-charge? Bring it anyway. Yes, bring your phone charger too.

What are your go-to ways to make working from a coffee shop work for you? Am I the only one who takes all of this into consideration before deciding to work from somewhere other than my home office for the day? Share tips, tricks, and thoughts in the comments below!

Managing the urge to do housework while working remotely

BalanceStress ManagementTelecommutingTime ManagementWork From HomeWorking Remotely

When you work from home it’s common to want to tackle a few chores around the house. And it’s easy to see why: When you’re working down the hall from the laundry room why not throw in a load in between calls or vacuum the living room during your lunch break rather than on Sunday afternoon? You do one small chore here and there, which seems harmless enough but overtime your lunch break to-do list might comprise things that could take an entire Saturday! This can leave you feeling strapped for time, stressed, and if you share a living space with a partner, family, or friends even a bit resentful. Oh and on top of this your work may suffer!

So how do you find the right balance between your work and housework, while working from home? What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by the large list of chores you’ve put made for yourself as a WFH employee? Here are a few tips:

  1. Remember that before you were remote you got all (or most!) of your housework done. When you were heading into the office or worked in a more “traditional” I’m assuming you found time to wash the sheets. You found time outside of your workday then and can do so now.
  2. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you should be focused on the home. Sure it can seem really appealing to get some housework or errands done so you have more free time to yourself on the weekend but there’s something to be said about not cramming 10 different tasks into your already packed workday. On top of this it’s really important to remember that you’re still working. A real-life job. That pays you. So, that work needs to get done.
  3. Remember that real breaks are important. Your body needs time in between meetings and large blocks of work. Popping outside to mow the lawn doesn’t count. If you’re constantly finding things to do during breaks it’s not really a break since your mind isn’t being given the spare to clear. Allow yourself 15 minutes for a coffee without wiping down the kitchen counters. Trust me.
  4. Cut yourself some slack and make sure others do as well. I live alone so if the sink is full of dirty dishes at 6 pm because I had a day full of meetings and I’m tired after work I’m okay with it. Give yourself this wiggle room and if you share a living space be sure your partner, family, or roommates do as well. Have a conversation about expectations with those you share a space with; it always surprises me that even the most well-intentioned and empathetic of people can forget that you’re working a job and can’t just do all the housework during your 9-5.
  5. When you get overwhelmed just stop. You may have noticed that I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus these past few weeks. During July and early August I had a lot going on in my full-time job, my career coaching side business, oh and I relocated from Atlanta to Chicago (more on the move as a remote employee another time!) I was stressed, tired, and overwhelmed. I had to prioritize and I decided to pull back in blogging for a bit while I got through the move. When you sense yourself getting overwhelmed and taking on too much hit pause, regroup, and prioritize. Don’t let your flexibility make you become inflexible.

Does this ring true for anyone else? Do you find yourself taking on housework here and there while teleworking? Is this a problem for you or does it work? Share in the comments below!