7 things to say ‘no’ to every time to be successful working from home

Jul 14, 2021

Let me take you back to 2013. A time when working from home was — uncommon.

I’d started my first business and was one of a few people I knew who worked remotely.

I often tell the story of how embarrassed I’d be when my corporate clients asked where my office was located. I’d mutter the name of the suburb I lived in (where my home office was!) and would quickly move the conversation on…

In more recent years, friends often commented how lucky I was to work from home. They’d share how much they’d love to skip the daily commute too. Well, this wish has been granted!

The ‘remote work experiment’ of the past year revealed both positives and negatives. It’s also clear some people prefer it — and others are better at it.

With working from home here to stay and a ‘hybrid’ workforce emerging, what makes people more effective at remote work?

Here are 7 things people say ‘no’ to every time to make working from home a success. Find out how you can create better boundaries and become more productive too.

#1 — DISTRACTIONS WHICH DRAIN YOU

Many people find the biggest challenge of remote work is dealing with distractions. Whether it’s their kids, partner, TV — or a fridge full of food. They’re called ‘COVID-kilos’ for a reason!

People who work well remotely know how to focus and avoid distractions. They say ‘no’ to doing laundry and other household chores during their workday.

Social media is a great way to stay connected when working from home — but it’s also a big distraction. Scrolling social media and a constant bombardment of information impacts productivity. Successful remote workers disconnect from social media or at least limit consumption time.

#2 — OVERWORKING OVERWHELM

In 2017, I hit yet another cycle of burnout after working 60+ hour weeks, late nights and weekends. Although I learnt my lesson this time, this inability to switch off (or ever stop) is a big problem. Especially for remote workers trying to balance their personal and professional lives.

Those who subscribe to the philosophy ‘work smarter, not harder’ say no to overworking. They have clear boundaries around their schedule, working hours, work and home life.

Creating a work schedule is the starting point. But smart workers also block it out in their calendar — and stick to it!

They also put strong limits on their start and finish times. By clearing their desk or closing the office door at the end of the day so they can switch off and enjoy their evening. Taking regular breaks and putting a hard stop on overtime are also key.

#3 — PUTTING EVERYONE ELSE FIRST

People who are successful at working from home also create boundaries with others. They say no to people pleasing and put their priorities first. Flight attendants sure had it right when they told us to ‘put our oxygen mask on first’ before helping others!

Putting everyone else first (your clients, work deadlines, family, boss) reduces productivity. For years, I prided myself on providing a high level of service to my clients. But often, I put others needs ahead of my own.

Working this way is unsustainable and I learnt the importance of respecting my own time too. Myself and those who’ve mastered the art of remote work limit the times we’re available to clients. We set clear expectations around when we’ll respond and in what timeframe.

They’re also adept at managing unrealistic expectations from others. Like a boss who expects them to show up for time-sucking meetings — without a clear purpose or agenda.

#4 — SKIPPING THEIR MORNING ROUTINE

Having an effective morning routine is critical to stay focused and productive. Especially with the lack of separation between your home and work life as a remote worker. The way you start your morning sets the tone for your entire day.

Highly successful remote workers say no to skipping their morning routine. They get the basics right: enough sleep, a balanced diet and daily movement. Then start their day with self-care activities: mediation, journaling, exercise, yoga or mindfulness.

#5 — BEING PERFECT

Perfectionism is one of the biggest productivity killers. Particularly amongst those working alone and relying on their own internal motivation.

Overachievement is common and many perfectionists set unrealistic goals. This leads to procrastination as they struggle to meet their own high standards.

Meanwhile, successful remote workers commit to taking imperfect action. They focus on doing their best, celebrating their successes — and failures. For them, every mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve next time.

#6 — TRYING TO ‘DO IT ALL’

Another roadblock to effective remote work is trying to do everything on your own. You believe no-one can complete a task as well as you — so you may as well do it yourself! Or it’s too difficult to train someone, especially when you’re not based in the same location.

Failing to delegate or ask for help comes from a fear of letting go and a need to control. But working this way negatively impacts your time management and productivity.

The most effective workers don’t try to ‘do it all’. They delegate, outsource or automate anything outside their expertise.

#7 — DOING IT ALONE

Social isolation is one of the downsides to remote work. It’s the reason many professionals can’t wait to get back to the office in some capacity. Despite enjoying the flexibility of working from home.

Successful remote workers say ‘no’ to loneliness and isolation by refusing to do it alone. They prioritise social interaction and find ways to stay connected with others. In their daily work, they choose virtual meetings over phone calls and in person catch-ups.

They may work from a co-working space, join a mastermind or attend business events. Making time for social activities and interests outside work remains important. Learning opportunities with a group element allow them to connect with like-minded people.

While there are many benefits to working remotely, it’s not always easy. Building these boundaries has helped my clients and I make working from home a success. I hope they support you too!

Want to develop better boundaries and be more productive at work?

Book your free initial 30 minute consult HERE to get started!

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving corporate leaders and business owners at a mid-career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms.

Stacey also supports professionals to transition from their corporate job into their own consulting business. She works virtually with individuals based across the globe.