How To Be Productive When You’re Working Flexibly
Flexible work is all the rage these days — and for a million good reasons. In many ways, working flexibly and being able to adapt work around your life (instead of the other way around) has always been the dream.
And yet, if you don’t pay attention, your flexible work dream can easily turn into a nightmare made of missed deadlines, piling tasks, and seemingly endless stress.
How to be productive when you’re working flexibly?
Here are some tips for you:
Set a Schedule (and Stick to It)
Working flexibly doesn’t mean that you can just work whenever you feel like it. In fact, one of the best ways to stay productive when working flexibly is to set a schedule for yourself and then make sure that you stick to it.
This means blocking out specific times of the day for your work, so you can actually remove all distractions within those time slots, sit down, and… work.
Get Dressed Up
This might feel a bit weird at first, but it… works. If you’re working from home, getting dressed for work and setting up a dedicated workspace can put you in the right mindset and help you be more productive.
Set Clear Boundaries
When you’re working flexibly, it can be easy for work to start creeping into every aspect of your life — which is not good for your productivity, or your mental health. If you allow your work to take over your (private) life, you’ll end up burned out, anxious, and stressed — maybe even more so than if you were working on a 9-5 schedule.
That’s why it’s important to set clear boundaries between work and the rest of your life. No matter where you choose to work from (at home, in a coffee shop, or in a coworking space), make sure you draw the line when it needs to be drawn — don’t let bosses, managers, or your own ambition push you into burnout and exhaustion.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy that can be used for pretty much anything — including flexible work.
The idea behind it is simple: you break down your work into 25-minute blocks (with five-minute breaks in between). After every four work sessions, you take a longer, 20-minute break.
This technique can help you stay focused, avoid burnout, and get more done in less time.
Use Async and Communication Tools
Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Notion, Jira, or Asana can be a completely life-saver in any context — but even more so if you work remotely and flexibly.
Software like this helps you keep track of deadlines, assigned tasks, and progress reports. They also make it easier to communicate with your team members, even when you don’t work around the same schedule.
Avoid the Caffeine Overload
Coffee is great. We all know that (cough, cough, we know it very well.)
But if you’re not careful, caffeine can quickly turn from your best friend to your biggest foe. Too much caffeine can have the exact opposite effect of what you’re looking for: it can de-focus you, generate more anxiety, and make it harder for you to actually get things done.
That’s why, if you want to be productive when working flexibly, you should avoid having too much coffee.
Pro tip from a long-time caffeinated person? Black tea is an excellent replacement, particularly English Breakfast or Earl Grey. It has just enough caffeine to give you a gentle boost, without making you feel like you’re about to jump out of your chair and do the Conga dance during that important meeting.
Last but not least, make sure to take regular breaks. Even if you’re super productive and manage to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time, it’s important to step away from your screen every now and then.
Stand up, move around, get a bit of sunlight, and have a snack. Do whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries — and then get back to work, refreshed and ready to go.
Flexible work is not for everyone — but it can definitely have its perks. If you want to be productive when working flexibly, make sure you build your workday around your natural rhythms, take regular breaks, and use async communication tools to stay on top of things.