How do you work alone effectively?


I am like most of you. I work alone in my room because that is my job as a creator. It has been a huge step for me. From experience, I got numerous tips that I got through the years on working alone effectively. I will share them with you because I think that the future for working alone is becoming more clear.

If you’re not developing your skills in working alone, then you’re going to be left out in the near future. A recent survey said that 80% of Company leaders would permit their employees to work remotely in the near future. Also, 47% of HR, legal and compliance, finance, and real estate professionals intend to make their employees work remotely on a full-time basis.

More and more companies are allowing their employees to work alone or remotely. The reason is fairly simple. It saves them money because they need less rent space, and a study from Stanford University found out that working alone or remotely increased productivity by 13%.

Thus, working alone or at home is now becoming the norm. As more and more companies see the benefits of working alone, you will be left out if you’re not productive in working remotely or at home. That’s what this article is about. With my 3 years of experience in working at home for my website, I am going to share with you tips so that you can als0 work alone effectively.

Here are the tips to help you work alone effectively:

  1. Proper Scheduling of Tasks
  2. Use Technology To Block Websites and Apps
  3. Go Outside for a Walk
  4. Set Deadlines
  5. Time block Your Work
  6. Divide Your Work Into Tasks
  7. Go Out With Friends
  8. Make the Right Habits
  9. Sticky Notes Even Digital Ones Can Work
  10. Working Outside Can Be a Break
  11. Minimize Distractions
  12. Take Advantage of Your Surroundings
  13. Try To Work on a Co-Working Space
  14. Don’t Multitask

I will explain each of these and how these 14 tips help in working alone effectively.

You need these tips in order to succeed in being productive in your work.

The reason is fairly simple. Working at home or remotely is the future. However, working alone has a big disadvantage. The disadvantage is that nobody watches you personally. That’s why it is really hard to stay productive. Plus, it would be hard to separate work and life balance.

But do not worry because the purpose of this article is not just to help you become effective in your work, but also to cope up with working alone since working alone can be tough at times.

If you’re doubting yourself if you can get better at working alone, then I suggest you read this article where I gave some motivation on the benefits you can have when you start working alone. Is it possible to work alone?

1. Proper Scheduling of Tasks

Proper scheduling of tasks is key if you want to start working alone effectively. What you have to do is properly schedule what you need to do for the day, and then do your very best to follow that schedule no matter what. This would prevent procrastination which is a big enemy of remotely working.

One of my biggest problems, when I started to work alone, is that I had no boss watching over me.

It might not be the case for you but for creators like us, we don’t really have a boss, to begin with. And that’s really one of the biggest problems we face.

We can wake up at 12 noon and nobody would yell at us. We could not do our work for today and nobody will know about that.

With too much freedom we have working at home, it is hard to force ourselves into working.

That’s why we are more prone to deadlines. The reason is procrastination is so much easier when we are talking about working alone.

Enter proper scheduling of tasks.

I’ve made an article that would really fit in this planning, actually, it is also very good if you want to improve your efficiency in working. It is an article about how to be better at time management. I suggest you read this after this. It is a good one to check out. Here is the link: How to avoid poor time management

Scheduling is a big part of time management. The problem with people working alone for the first time is that they usually don’t have any work schedule to follow.

Scheduling is really important.

You need to make sure that these things are included in your schedule if you want to work effectively

  • How many tasks do you have for today?
  • What is your the most important task for the day?
  • What time are your going to work on your important tasks?
  • Schedule your other tasks at different times

When you schedule, it is important to find out those things listed. The purpose of scheduling is to make sure that you have something to do.

I can’t count how many times I stayed in bed just because I don’t have a to-do list for the day.

It is also perfect to make that to-do list at night before sleeping so that you won’t have any excuse that you don’t have a to-do list for the day.

This tip alone is good enough to make you work effectively.

2. Use Technology To Block Websites and Apps

Distractions are one of the biggest enemies once you start working alone. The reason is that they fragment our attention. Using our current technology can help us work more efficiently by block these distractions which could make us more productive.

Distractions are one of the biggest problems when we talk about working alone. Examples of these distractions are social media applications and just watching some TV.

It’s so easy for us to just browse social media feeds rather than working.

Furthermore, distractions fragment our attention which is very important for productivity. I talked more about this in a separate article where I talked about multitasking. You can find about it here: How to multitask without breaking your brain

While I believe that multitasking is good in small amounts, you should only include multitasking tasks that are important.

If browsing social media feeds is not part of your job, then don’t include that in your work. As simple as that.

However, as humans, we always slip. That’s why app or website blockers are gold.

As an example, I blocked numerous websites and apps on my phone and laptop right now. I would only let myself use them when I’m finished with this article.

To make things better, most of these have free versions. For example, I use the BlockSite extension on my laptop so I can’t visit these sites when I try. I have an Applocker on my phone to eliminate those distractions.

I recommend you to try this. Try to remove distractions in your work for only about 3 hours. I promise you’ll immediately see the difference in your work efficiency.

3. Go Outside for a Walk

Your work efficiency can greatly benefit you by having a walk from time to time. Going outside for a walk not only wakes you up but helps you think. Walking can help us get brilliant ideas for our work. This is especially useful if you work on a job that requires creativity.

Walking outside can prevent us from feeling sleepy which is quite common when you start working alone.

The reason is fairly simple, working remotely is prone to making your surroundings extremely quiet. The environment might be extremely useful for your productivity, but combine that with let’s say working after lunch then you can easily feel that afternoon sleepiness.

A good way to counter is to just get yourself a break and go out walk for a while.

What’s interesting is that we could usually get incredible ideas when we start walking. The reason is that walking creates a state of mindfulness where our brain would usually start generating great ideas for our work.

For example, you could come up with a good solution if you got stuck on your work. Or I could come up with a topic for a video I’ll be uploading on YouTube. Check out my YouTube Channel here: YouTube.

I find walking extremely useful after lunch because I would feel that immense sleepiness at that time. It’s also better for people who have a low tolerance for caffeine like me since drinking coffee after 12noon prevents me from sleeping.

4. Set Deadlines

Setting deadlines is one of the effective ways to combat procrastination. Working alone is very prone to procrastination because nobody can personally watch you working. This makes it hard to reach daily goals which harm our productivity at work.

As mentioned, procrastination can be your biggest enemy when working alone. Nobody is watching you so it is easy to just be relaxed and do nothing.

It is very hard to combat procrastination. Even people who are very productive just have days where they procrastinate.

In fact, there is just 1 proven thing to combat procrastination. It’s what wakes our brains up to work. That one thing is deadlines.

How many times have you postpone a project until doing it 3 days or overnight before submission? How many times have you studied just a night before an exam? It’s the deadlines that keep us going.

Deadlines are what keeps us working hard when we have a race against time. It is what makes people who work and students work overnight just to finish the task.

By the way, I am not a fan of studying or working all night. It is not effective at all and would harm your body. I have an article explaining that in more detail: Is It Okay to Study all Night?

So, keep a deadline. If you want you can use the SMART Goal Settings to make a good goal for a deadline.

If you follow the Smart Guidelines, it would make your deadlines more reasonable. This is because we are prone to overestimate ourselves when we do deadlines. Make sure that your deadlines are doable or attainable.

Make sure your deadlines follow these criteria:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainbale
  • Relevant
  • Timebound

You can get more information regarding the SMART guidelines in this article: Why do people struggle to set their goals?

You can make effective deadlines if you followed the SMART guidelines. Remember that these deadlines are effective if we are talking about results and being productive in your work.

Also, in setting your goals or deadlines, I recommend you to do it daily if you want the most result and do it weekly if you want it to be more balanced.

Yearly goals are most likely not productive because we usually underestimate the things we can do in a year.

If you are interested in finding out the difference between daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goal setting, then I have an article just for that: How often should you set goals?

But what I recommend is to set daily for small goals, and weekly for bigger goals.

5. Time block Your Work

Blocking your time is very important to be more effective in your work. Time blocking removes distractions and makes you focus on your work much easier. Doing this can help you do more things in as little time as possible which is the hallmark of working effectively.

The next level of scheduling is time blocking. It is great that you’ve already scheduled your tasks, but it is another to completely eliminate distractions to just focus on your work.

Time blocking is very simple. Remove any distractions you can have while working.

For example, I don’t need my phone so not only does it have an app blocker in case I forget, but I also put my phone away from me when working.

This makes sure that this time period is completely dedicated to writing and nothing more.

I recommend you to also do time blocking is especially on your most important task so you can finish it as early as possible.

Furthermore, most people who work at home can easily time block since there are no people who can bother you while doing so.

6. Divide Your Work Into Tasks

Most people stop working because they are overwhelmed by their work. The key to being effective in your work is to divide your work into smaller tasks. This makes it easier to finish your work because it gives you direction on how to do your work efficiently.

As an example, my goal is to publish 90 articles this quarter. That might seem very daunting when you look at it, and it truly looks daunting.

But, I made it is very easy. I just need to publish 7-8 articles every week. That makes it very simple for me to follow.

If you look at my goal of 90 articles for the quarter, then you will be extremely surprised how I can write that much as a goal. Most people freeze because their goals seem so large.

While there are goals that are very big, that’s why I said to follow the SMART guidelines, there are goals that just look big.

These are goals that can be divided into smaller tasks that would help you become more effective in working.

7. Go Out With Friends

Going out with friends helps us cope up with the loneliness of working alone. Remember that working alone can be stressing especially for extroverts. The quality of our work is usually affected by our mood. That’s why it is also important to enjoy.

Remember that your work would be extremely different when you are in the mood and not in the mood.

That’s why it is important to just go out if really necessary.

You can hang out with friends to cope up with the time you’ve spent alone.

Furthermore, much like walking outside, going out and talking to friends can bring us a new perspective when it comes to our work.

While I’m not a fan of talking about work with my friends, I still know that they can give numerous advice on how to do things more efficiently especially if they are experts on the project you’re doing.

Thus, it is also a good idea to go out once in a while when you feel lonely. Lift your mood up to make the quality of your work better.

8. Make the Right Habits

Habits are very important for people who work alone for the reason that it helps us cope with procrastination. When we have the correct habits to work effectively, it would be significantly easier to work. Acquiring bad habits on the other hand would produce unwanted results.

Remember that when we are working alone, it is very easy to fall into bad habits. The reason is that nobody is watching you.

For example, since you might not have a boss, you can start building a habit of playing during work hours which is not ideal for your work, and yourself.

Habits are things that we do automatically. That’s why it is hard to break.

So that is the same with good habits. If we build the right habits, then it would be very easy to work very efficiently.

For example, you could build the habit of waking up early and work early. Thus, you can also finish your work early and do a lot of things in a single day.

So make the right habits. At least try to.

9. Sticky Notes Even Digital Ones Can Work

Sticky notes are a good idea when talking about work productivity. The reason is that it immediately gives you the things you have to do at a certain timeframe. Plus, removing sticky notes once finished is really effective to feel a sense of accomplishment when working.

Sticky notes are really helpful if we’re talking about productivity.

It helps us feel a sense of deadline on the tasks we need to do. Plus, it feels good when we remove sticky notes once we’re done. This makes work more fun to do.

Another thing to take note of is that our brain is not good at storing information. That’s why it is better for us to just write things down and sticky notes, even the digital notes can work.

The advantage of using these digital notes is that you can access them anywhere are long as you have your phone.

For example, I use Google Keep notes when I come up with new ideas so I won’t forget them.

As I said, we are more forgetful than we think.

How many times have you said you’ll remember something only to find out that you already forgot about it?

That’s why sticky notes are a good way to stay effective in your work.

10. Working Outside Can Be a Break

If you really feel bored working at home and you’re looking to work someplace else, then you can also work outside. It is normal for people to feel bored especially working alone since they see no other people around. Thus, you can work someplace else for a change.

The most commonplace for this kind of work is in coffee shops.

Coffee shops usually have free wifi when you buy a drink and you can work there with other people.

This can be used to work with your colleagues or you just want a scenery of people when working.

If you really feel bored working inside your house, then going outside to work is a good idea. It can help you cope up if you feel lonely.

11. Minimize Distractions

Distractions are the enemies of productivity. When we are filled with distractions, our work will usually be less efficient. The reason is that distractions fragment our attention which is required for working effectively. If we want to be productive, we need to minimize distractions.

Perhaps the biggest enemy you’ll face when being productive is distractions.

That’s why it is important to minimize or even remove distractions.

Distractions such as notifications, games, social media, and many more can pull you away from your work.

As an example, my phone right now is far away from me. This makes me more efficient at my work.

To minimize distraction, you can do time-blocking and scheduling which was discussed above.

12. Take Advantage of Your Surroundings

The biggest advantage of working alone is that you control your surroundings. Try making your surroundings much more pleasant and clean so that you would be glad to work in your home. Furthermore, you can work more effectively if things around are quiet.

There are many things you can do to your environment to make you more productive in working alone.

I would give examples and find out which works for you.

Things you can do to your environment for work efficiency.

  1. Have a plant
  2. Clean your desk
  3. Play some music
  4. Remove Clutter
  5. Have a Bright lighting

These are just examples, you can do anything you want.

For example, bright lighting helps you stay awake while working. Motivation music makes you more motivated to continue doing your work.

Furthermore, if you prefer a quiet place for maximum efficiency, then you may do so.

13. Try To Work on a Co-Working Space

It is a good idea to try working in a co-working space. This helps us cope up with the sadness of working alone. Furthermore, a co-working space promotes teamwork which is necessary for working efficiently.

If you really need to talk to your team members, then going to a co-working space is a good idea.

In fact, co-working spaces are now popular. You can try this to easily team up on a large-scale project.

Plus, you get to work outside which is a break from working on your home all the time.

If you start feeling lonely when working, then you cal also opt for this especially if you’re working with a team. A monthly or weekly personal meeting is a good idea for productivity so your team knows what’s happening in the project overall.

This is different from the other example of just going outside like let’s say a coffee shop because that is only for you working alone. Working as a team in a coffee shop is a bad idea because most likely, that place doesn’t want any noise. A co-working space can make your work with others.

14. Don’t Multitask

Multitasking does big harm to productivity. If you really want to work very effectively, you need to stop multitasking. This is especially true for people working alone as nobody is telling them to stop checking their social media feeds while working.

Multitasking is a big no when we are talking about working effectively.

In fact, the only time to multitask on your work is if the work is closely related to one another, or you can group them together.

One such example is answering emails and chatting with your team members. They can be done together but not when you need your creativity in working.

So, it is not a good idea to multitask. It harms your productivity even if you believe that you seem to work better if you’re multitasking, multiple research says that it is the other way around.

Jason

Jason Ong is a YouTuber and the one who owns this site. He shares what he learned with people and makes videos if necessary. He was a former lecturer. The things he taught are topics related to Clinical Laboratory Science or what others call Medical Technology. Right now, he is also working part-time in an app company as a production supervisor. You can visit his YouTube Channel on https://ongjason.com/youtube

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