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By far one of the biggest benefits of remote working is the ability to have a flexible schedule. If you can do the work whenever you want—as long as it gets done—this brings an immense amount of freedom. However, freedom comes with responsibility, and since you’re flexible, you can easily start slacking and never really get any work done.

Reduce time spent on emails

In the average workweek, you’ll spend as much as 28% of your time on emails, or about 11 hours. When you add that on a monthly and annual level, it turns out that email eats a huge chunk of our time at work. Clearly, we can’t just stop reading and writing emails, but there’s another way to reduce the time spent on them.

The first step you can take is to declutter your inbox. You can use a service such as Unroll.me which will show you all the newsletters you’re subscribed to so you can unsubscribe from multiple ones with ease.

The second thing you can do is to allocate a specific time slot for reading and responding to emails. You can make it a 1-hour time period at the beginning or end of each day where you handle all emails. We constantly check our inboxes, which interrupts our flow of thoughts and our work, making it hard to regain focus. This is an excellent method to prevent distractions if you practice it diligently.

Finally, you can move to another platform to take away the time spent on reading emails. Team chat apps can be a more suitable solution. They allow instant communication and go far beyond exchanging messages. You can integrate them with other apps such as Google Drive and your favorite project management tool, as well as use them for audio and video calls and screen sharing. In other words, they may as well replace email in the near future—at least for office use.

Set up an actual office

One of the biggest productivity killers with flexible working is the work area. If you simply use your living room (or even worse, bedroom) as the place you work, it’s no wonder you have a hard time getting stuff done. The key to productivity is making sure your work area at home looks and feels like an office.

First tip – no beds and pajamas. Make sure you actually have a dedicated work area, whether it’s a desk or a dedicated room. Make sure to actually get dressed, despite the temptation to work in your underwear all day long. By making it look and feel like an office, your productivity will skyrocket. No more temptations to watch Netflix or play with your dog with your task list piling up!

It doesn’t have to be fancy or high-tech, there is only one thing that matters – your “office” has to be physically separated from the place where you rest. I’ve found that when you work from your living room, you have a hard time switching off even after work is done – there is always a temptation to turn your laptop on and do a little bit more work.

Set your own hours

If you have truly flexible working hours, that means that you can work whenever you want, as long as you get the work done. For most people, this can be troubling, because you’re one click away from watching old episodes of Seinfeld, and you end up doing the majority of work as the deadline approaches.

Instead of having no schedule at all, choose a certain time frame where you get most of your work done. Whether it’s as boring as a traditional 9 to 5 or something as crazy as starting work at 2 AM, it’s your choice, as long as you stick to it. You can get by with the help of dedicated project management apps.

Having spent a few years as a remote worker, I noticed that the opposite of what everyone believes is true. Most people think that remote workers actually do fewer hours every day, but the truth is that the majority of people who work remotely end up working for much more than 8 hours every day. Since there are no boundaries, it becomes very difficult to switch off and stop working.

If you’re having trouble focusing, you can try using a dedicated Pomodoro timer for work. These apps, such as PomoDone, help you measure 25-minute intervals of work, followed by 5-minute breaks. That way, you can measure how much you’ve actually worked and get yourself to take regular breaks.

The challenges of flexible and remote work are not that different from what you can encounter in the office. However, if you apply these bits of advice, you are sure to be even more productive than someone doing the same job within regular hours from their office.

About the author

Mile Živković is a content writer and work-life balance expert at Chanty – a simple and AI-powered Slack alternative. When Mile isn’t busy writing epic posts on productivity, work-life balance and time management for Chanty blog, he’s probably driving somewhere. His hobbies include cars (huge fan of Alfa Romeo), photography and collecting pocket knives. You can catch him on LinkedIn.

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