To Boldly ROWE Where No Man Has ROWE’d Before (Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Work Remotely)
As you may know, here at Centresource we employ the ROWE time management system. We’ve talked about it at great length on this blog before, but I’d like to spend a little more time talking about how to effectively implement it on a personal level.
As a relatively new hire to the team, and coming from the corporate world, ROWE was quite a culture shock. It went something like this:
**INTERIOR, CENTRESOURCE OFFICE**
JON: "So, you mean I can work from wherever, whenever, and however I choose?"
WILL: "That's right. Hold to your meeting schedule, and keep your clients happy. Outside of that, I don't really care what you do as long as you get your job done."
*Cue the air-guitar, lip-syncing and awkwardly-dancing 80s movie montage!*
…and, scene. While that did happen (except the 80s montage), and while it is amazing, ROWE comes with a set of unique challenges. The biggest challenge comes from personal motivation. Will’s a great boss, but he’s not my babysitter. Will does his job, and he trusts me to do mine. It’s up to me to maintain a consistent output and provide value.
I do my best to avoid procrastination and time wasting, but I’m human. Failure to some degree is inevitable, and without the right series of failsafes the whole thing could come crashing down. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of tips on how to minimize failure when working remotely. Take a look and hopefully you can make some simple changes to your remote work routine:
- Monitoring Your Time
- Minimizing Distractions
It’s important to find simple tools to help keep you on track. I’ve spoken on the wonders of the Pomodoro technique, which aligns your focus on one single thirty minute task. This system puts your mind on a nice cycle of productivity, allowing you to focus without getting too overwhelmed or stressed out.
When I complete a task, it’s easy to minimize my current working window, open up a browser, and look at cat photos on the Internet. While taking a break is necessary (and really, really cute), it’s best to try and only allow distractions for a five minute time period.
If you set yourself a timer for this action, you’ll be motivated to get back on track when the timer buzzes. This is another great feature of the Pomodoro technique: a five minute “reward” break is built right in.
You know how you always see people typing away into their laptops at a coffee shop? There’s a reason for that: it’s easy to work there. You have a background hustle and bustle to keep your mind focused, but the people in the shop aren’t your own co-workers (so distractions are minimal).
The biggest thing that contributes to distraction when working remotely? Your own home. If you’re working from home, a myriad of time traps start to creep in: the ever-present household to-do list; your roommates, significant other or spouse; and, let’s be honest, your television. If I’m working from home I setup a series of simple rules to prevent going off the rails.
- I lock myself in a quiet room away from all TVs and entertainment systems
- I make a deal with my wife that I need to work X number of hours before taking a break
- I hide away my house projects list, by filtering my to-do list to only display work-related items
Remember: working remotely is a privilege, something hard-earned and hard-kept. With the right systems in place, you can focus yourself in any environment. Good ROWE, and good luck.