The Big Idea
You don’t have to be in an office to be productive.
Questions I Answer
- How can I be productive when working from home?
- How can I be more productive when working remotely?
- How can I eliminate distractions when working from home?
Key Topics in the Show
Using time more effectively by working away from the office
6 things to keep in mind to make sure you’re being productive when working remotely
Eliminating distractions and setting your own boundaries
Putting the proper communication channels in place
How to work productively while traveling or with children at home
Resources and Links
- Watch my latest TanyaTV episode: 5 Tips to Make Time for Reading
Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 127, how to work from anywhere. Now, as you know, this season is all about bending time, changing our relationship with time and how we feel about how we’re spending it. In today’s world, our time is spent in many different places. With technology, we’re really able to make time work for us. We can create lives that are centered on the places we want to be, maybe working from home instead of the office every day, or at a coffee shop, or a hotel. Part of bending time means that we make life happen outside of the normal nine to five, away from the
fluorescent lights, away from the cubicles.
Today, we’re going to talk about how you can be productive and effective, no matter where you’re working. I have lots of suggestions and strategies that you can use to make it easier to work from, well, just about anywhere.
Today’s episode has been brought to you by Green Chef. I’ll be sharing a little bit more about them later on in the episode,
Let’s talk about bending time. Bending time really is about changing that relationship we have with time and how we feel about it and really maximizing our days, so they feel good to us. There’s lots of advantages of working outside of the office. Maybe you want to work from home, for example. Sometimes that can make you feel like you’re squeezing in a few more hours out of your day, helping you feel a little bit better about how you’re spending your time. For example, maybe you’re cutting out any commute time, and that time could be banked up and used for work tasks, or even getting in a quick jog or a walk before you start your day, or maybe you have other projects you want to tackle during that time that would normally be spent
either in the car, or on the train, or in the bus.
The other benefit is, working from home can also help you kill two birds at the same time without having to take the day off, like those times where you have to wait from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM for the cable guy to show up and make some repairs or when you have to take your car to get maintenance done. These are tasks that have to be done, right? So, if you can work remotely, you can keep on working while the personal or home tasks are being done, as well. That’s using our time effectively, which you know I love.
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So, no matter where you want to set up and get some work done outside of the office, there are six things to keep in mind in order to make sure you’re being as productive and successful as possible. Let’s go through each of those right now.
The first thing is to dress the part. Nothing gets you into work mode more than dressing the part. So, try not to find yourself in bed with your cell phone starting your day in your pajamas sending emails from underneath the covers. Before you know it, it’s 11:00 AM, You’re still in your pajamas. Maybe you haven’t even brushed your teeth yet. So, get out of bed, get showered, get dressed, and get on with your day. You don’t have to wear a work suit or anything like that but getting out of your PJs really will set the tone that it’s time to work.
When I was a work-at-home mom, people were always asking if I wore my pajamas all day long all the time. Okay, I didn’t wear heels or anything like that, but I
did wear clothes that made me feel really confident every single day. I wanted to feel confident with my business, so therefore, I wanted to feel confident, too, which meant fixing my hair, maybe putting on a little bit of makeup, wearing things that felt good to me. I think that helped me feel more professional. Quite frankly, if you don’t treat yourself as a professional, how can you expect anyone else to? If your family or your friends don’t take your work-at-home job seriously, take a good look and make sure that you’re also taking it seriously. Part of that is treating yourself in the way that you want to be treated by others. So, get up, dress the part, and get started with your day.
The second thing is to create your own workspace. It’s important to have a space that you can call your own workspace, even if you live in a small place or even a studio apartment. You can probably find a little place to convert into a working environment. It doesn’t have to be a fancy office with a big leather chair, and you don’t necessarily have to rent a co-working space, either. My very first office when! started my first business was simply a desk that was literally shoved in a corner, two feet wide, and about maybe one foot deep, tiny. The work that I did there got me to where I am now. Before I had my desk, I worked in the dining room. I had a little basket of office supplies that I pulled out of the buffet and I set out, things like file folders and paperclips, not a lot, but enough to make me feel like it was an office space, not a dining room, and it cued my brain that I was in work mode.
Here’s the deal. Your workspace doesn’t need to be Pinterest-worthy. It just needs to be yours. We can get really caught up when we’re scrolling through social media or looking through Pinterest, seeing these amazing and beautiful offices. I just have to tell you, that’s not really realistic. Those offices don’t really look like that on the days they’re not shooting photographs. So, let that go. Choose an office space that works for you, and it might just be that you’re in the corner of the dining room like I once was, as well. That’s okay. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do amazing work.
What you need to do, though, is you need to create a space for yourself to work because it does set the tone for your brain. You sit down in that area and you
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think, okay, it’s time for work mode. We’ve talked before about that importance of creating work and home compartments for ourselves. Having that dedicated workspace really helps create those compartments. Not only does it set the tone for
your brain, it sets the tone for people that you live with, too. When you’re in that space, they know that you’re working, and that helps to communicate to them that you’re not to be disturbed. It really does help you set a boundary, and that brings me to number three.
Set boundaries. Just because you’re not working in an office doesn’t mean you can’t set boundaries and have working hours, just like you would if you were in an office building. Don’t make the mistake of working around the clock just because you think you need to prove that you’re really working, even though you’re not physically in the office. Be sure to set some boundaries so that others, whether it’s co-workers or clients, so that they know when you’re available and when you’re done for the day. Having set hours of availability versus hours of business is a key part of these boundaries.
Listen. It’s okay to work at 11:00 at night. We’ve all done that before, but it’s not okay for clients, or your boss, to expect you to jump on an email thread or a phone call. Just because you’re working doesn’t mean that you have to be available to everyone else. The key is to set up those boundaries ahead of time and then communicate them in your emails, in your voicemails, or even in your contracts if you’re a freelancer or a service provider. Setting those boundaries ahead of time really allows people to respect them.
My fourth tip is to avoid distractions. When you’re not in a normal working environment, it is crucial that you limit the distractions that pull you away from what you need to do. So, whether that’s the TV with those unwatched episodes calling out at you, or your family, or that pile of laundry, be sure to set parameters with anything that will distract you. This includes social media, the guitar sitting in the corner staring at you, good morning talk shows, all of that. You need to get into the work zone and make time for those personal things when you take breaks, just like you would if you were in an office.
If you want to take a mid-morning break to throw in a load of laundry and take the pooch for a walk, do it. That’s just as reasonable as walking to the break room and making coffee or grabbing a snack. Hey, it’s okay if you want to strum the guitar for
20-30 minutes as your break because you’re at home, something you can’t do at the office. There’s benefits to being at home. Just make sure that when you are in work mode, those things are not distractions for you. Save those distractions for break
times so that you can be productive in between those breaks.
The fifth thing is, communication is key. You’ve probably heard me talk about communication a thousand times on this podcast because it really is important, figuring out the best way to communicate with co–workers that you need to interact with, or your boss, if you’re working remotely. Some companies use group chat services to communicate with each other, so make sure that you have the right
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platforms installed on your computer or tablet if that’s how your team communicates. Also, don’t forget to communicate when you’re available or away from your desk. So, if you do decide to take a break and walk your dog or if you have to deal with a maintenance guy, be sure to set your group chat status to away, or in a meeting, or whatever signals your co-workers you’re temporarily unavailable. The same thing goes with some set appointments, like your dentist appointment at one o’clock. Make sure you’re communicating that with your co-workers.
The sixth thing is, make sure your technology is set up. If you work for a company and you have a work computer, make sure you have everything you need at home, or wherever you are, to function remotely. Some companies require a virtual private network to connect with the company’s internal systems, so be sure to get the details from your IT department. Make sure you’re ready to work remotely. There’s nothing worse than planning to work away from the office only to find out you don’t have the tools you need to connect and get your work done. And, if you’re a freelancer or if you own your own business, you still got to make sure your tech is ready for you whenever you need it. It’s always good to have a contingency plan if your internet goes out. Know where the nearest coffee shop is with reliable WiFi.
Now, if your work does require conference calls or a lot of phone interactions, you might want to consider investing in a good headset to reduce some of that ambient noise, which will make the phone call seem a little less chaotic and a little more professional to the person on the other end. Good earpieces can really tone
down the distractions around you, like lawnmowers, the garbage guys, the barking dogs, screaming kids, all of that fun stuff.
So, there’s lots of ways that you can really make working wherever you want to work for you. Working from home definitely has benefits, and it has challenges, but working in the combines of a hotel while traveling sometimes has more challenges
than anything else. I want to talk about that next. But first, let’s give a quick word to today’s sponsor.
This episode has been brought to you by Green Chef, a USDA certified organic company. Their meal plans include paleo, plant-powered, vegan, and vegetarian, pescatarian, keto, gluten-free, and omnivore. As you can see, there’s something for you no matter what your diet or lifestyle, and they make cooking really easy. Recipes include pre-made measured sauces, dressings, and spices so you can get a little more flavor in a lot less time. You know I love cooking, but sometimes the prep work can take a little long, and they make it really easy to get a delicious meal without all that prep work, and I love that you can switch up your meal plan whenever you’re ready to try a new way to eat. In my last Green Chef box, my family enjoyed roasted Parmesan Dijon salmon, delicious and ready in less than 30 minutes.
Now right now, Green Chef has a special offer for my listeners. You can get $25 off each of your first three boxes for a total of $75 off. Just go to GreenChef.US/paradox75. I’ll be sure to post this link in my show notes, so make sure to check out Green Chef.
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Now, a lot of those tips that I shared before the break apply no matter where you’re working, a coffee shop, a co-working space, at your house, but let’s talk about working somewhere a little more confining, a hotel. Traveling for work isn’t nearly as glamorous as it looks. It’s fairly exhausting and living out of a suitcase in a hotel room definitely has its challenges, so let’s quickly go over a few ways to make it work when you’re traveling, and you need to work from a hotel.
First thing is, schedule your work day. Don’t let yourself get caught snoozing if you’re supposed to be working remotely, although no one says you have to get up at the same time that you get up at home to go to the office. You’re in a hotel. Snooze an extra hour. It’s okay, but decide when you want to get up, and decide what time you want to work ahead of time. Set your alarm and get up just like you would any other day, and don’t forget to put that do not disturb sign on the door if you want to work uninterrupted.
Don’t forget, too, to set up designated office areas in your hotel room. Working from the bed isn’t productive, so be sure to set up a working area jus about at the house. It could be a hotel desk. Sometimes they don’t have them, so you could use a dresser, especially if you prefer that standing work environment. Regardless, be sure to set up your space with everything you’ll need for the day. This means getting out your chargers, your files you’ll need, your notepads and pens.
Spend just a few minutes to prepare a temporary workspace to save yourself from having to stop multiple times to look for the things you need. You might find it easier to take away some of that hotel clutter, the takeout menus and brochures, and all the other hotel items, and put them away in a drawer so you only have out what you need for your work, and that helps you get into that work mode we talked about earlier.
The third thing to remember is, a change of scenery is good. Just like an office setting, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re taking breaks. It’s hard when you’re in a hotel room because everything is in that one room. So, make sure you’re getting out of the room. Maybe take time to walk down to the lobby to get a breath of fresh air or grab a snack as a break. Instead of doing room service for lunch, go somewhere else. It’ll help you come back feeling refreshed. You might even consider taking your phone or your tablet with you in case there’s a park nearby. After all, sending emails from a park is a lot more invigorating than being cooped up in that hotel room all day long. So, there’s lots of ways you can make it work for you while you’re traveling. You just have to take a little bit of time to plan it out.
Now, for those of you who are working from home with your kids around, the idea of working from a hotel room with no one else around sounds just the side of glorious, right? Yeah. I feel you because I started my first business with small kids playing at my feet, so I totally remember what that was like having little, tiny kids around who are constantly distracting me, constantly interrupting, but there’s ways you can take care of that. Kids definitely can provide an even more challenging environment. I mean, think about it. Every time the phone rings, they’re like magnets. The second you’re on the phone for a work call, somehow, that’s when they get hurt or they need your immediate attention. It’s like they know you’re on an important call
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and it’s their life’s mission to have their tantrum at that very moment that your boss picks up on the other end, but there’s a few little tricks you can use to help get your work done even with the kids at home.
The first thing is, clearly communicate work time with your kids. I’ve talked a lot about using a physical paper sign when I’m working at the office, so I’m not disrupted or disturbed, but I use one at home, too. If my work sign is up, my kids know not to disturb me unless it’s a true emergency, and not the kind of emergency where two kids are battling over who gets the remote and they need mom to decide. This is the key to working, is that I make sure and I communicate with my kids before the sign goes up. I call out to them and I give them fair warning. “Mom is about to go into work mode. If you need anything at all from me, ask me now because I’m getting ready to
get started, and whatever you ask for when I’m in work mode is an automatic no.” Yep, that’s what my kids have learned.
“Anything you ask from me, when my sign is up, you’re absolutely positively guaranteed to get a no, no matter what it is.” Because no is my default when that sign is up, you know what’s happened? They stopped interrupting me. They stopped asking me for things because, just like you and me, they don’t like the word, no. But because it’s consistent, they don’t even ask anymore. Instead, they know they have to ask ahead of time. Also, key is that I don’t leave the sign up all day long. I take it down so there are other times of the day where they know it’s okay to come in and chat. I save that sign for my deeper work times. Communicating with your kids really can make a difference.
Speaking of those deeper work times, that’s the next tip. Create some deeper work times. Actively carve out time in your schedule where your kids are less likely to be a distraction. This is not the time where I’m talking about you’re answering emails or checking in on Twitter. Choose some times that you can max it out and focus on something that’s a priority. I know for me, nap time always was power hour for me. As I mentioned, my first business, I started when my kids were playing at my feet. So, when they were young enough to nap, I would schedule a deeper work time during that nap time.
Now, Jack was amazing at napping. Kate, not so much. So, instead of fighting her on the napping and stopping every five minutes to try to get her to sleep, she had quiet room time. She had some special toys and some things in her room that we pulled out for her during room time, and she had a special timer that she would ring when it was time to come out. And so to make her feel even more like she had a say, she would be the one to turn on the timer. She would announce it was her special time. You see with kids, it’s all in how you frame it up. I had Kate thinking this was her special grown-up time, just like mommy, so that definitely helped, and we practiced. We didn’t start with a full hour. We started with 15 minutes, and then 25 minutes, and
Another work-at-home mom that I know schedules her important phone calls from three o’clock to five o’clock. That way, she can really batch those together. She
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pays a mother’s helper, basically a babysitter, to come and entertain her kids for those two hours each day. So, she’s getting a little extra help when she needs it most, but because it’s not full-time, it’s only a few hours a day, it’s not really breaking the bank, but it allows her to have some uninterrupted phone time with her clients. If you communicate those phone times clearly with others, that your window for returning calls is, let’s say like this mom, three o’clock to five o’clock, most people will expect it and they won’t really complain. The key is to communicate it.
You might even find that a good deep work time for you is getting up early before the kids are up. That way, you can really squeeze in a few more productive hours in your day before the rooster crows and everything turns chaotic. Right now, I’m recording this podcast mid-afternoon, but as I worked on my notes for this podcast this morning, it was 5:00 AM. I got to jump on my podcast notes before the kids were up, and then I started my day with a solid win, knowing I was going to record this in the afternoon. It’s all about planning. That’s the thing. The key to work from anywhere comes down to three things: Preparation, communication, and then the execution. You really can make time work for you and allow you to work wherever you want. Really create that life that you want. If that life looks to you like working from home or working from a coffee shop on a regular basis, it really is possible. We can bend time and make it so our lives really reflect, ultimately, what we want.
So, what I’m really excited about is next week’s guest is Tiffany Soria. She
with families with unconventional lifestyles, so she’s going to be sharing some tips and ideas on how you can pursue your passion and still get your work done. So, she really ties in this whole idea of bending time to make it work for you.
We will, of course, be talking about this and all the different topics on the podcast in my Facebook group. I would love to see you in there. Simply go to inKWELLpress.com/group to request an invitation to join.
All right. Until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
**This transcript was created using AI
Tanya Dalton is a woman with a purpose: She wants to redefine productivity for women. Tanya is considered a top inspirational female keynote speaker. Her talks about productivity, time management, finding balance and finding meaning in your work are inspirational and actionable.