Just because you’ve moved away from a corporate office or military work schedule to a sunny beach, co-working space or home office as an entrepreneur doesn’t mean workplace habits go out the window. If anything, working remotely requires planning and accountability- this starts with setting your tasks and ends when the work is complete. Self-discipline can be hard. Especially if you are not in the office, with plenty of people who are buzzing around you, looking at you, and asking how’s it going?
Task Setting Tips
1. Create a routine & stick to it. Having a set schedule for working hours when you’re most
productive will keep you in check when you have the urge to finish that last season on Netflix, do
laundry, or take a 2-hour lunch break.
2. Have a designated workspace. Pick a place to go specifically for work (somewhere with a
physical door is ideal), and designate it as your “office.” If you’re cramped for space, invest in a
room divider to create a remote workstation in a corner of your kitchen, bedroom, or living room.
3. Set and communicate boundaries with your family. A “red light, yellow light, green light”
system on your door can ensure your workspace is your own. Be sure your roommates or family
(especially the kiddos) are looped in on when and how you can be interrupted. Green =
interruptions are welcome, Yellow = minimal noise and questions are okay, Red = off limits (ex.
During a conference call/tight deadline).
4. Find online tools & platforms to stay productive and commit to them. Free tools like Trello,
Asana, and Slack can keep your remote team connected. But there are many to choose from, so
do some research, try a few out, and create a dashboard of options that work best for you.
5. Remember to enjoy it & make the most of it. Revel in the freedoms and flexibility that come
with remote work and entrepreneur life. Take breaks to get outside, converse with other humans,
walk the dog, stop into your favorite lunch spot, and whatever else will keep you sane. Self-care
should be a task item just like all the amazing work you do from wherever you find yourself.
1. Rotate the Boards: This may seem a bit rudimentary but adult attention spans, learning styles,
and preferences are as vast and wide and something different may work for each individual. This
method has worked wonders for me. At my busiest, I was consulting or running 4 different
projects on a daily basis and switching gears throughout the 8-9 hour work day was difficult. I'd
get immersed in one project or forget what my daily goal priorities were on another. So I got on
Amazon and ordered four 11X17 dry erase boards, put a logo sticker from each company at the
top, and literally rotated them in front me per my daily schedule. I'd leave the other three on a
shelf behind me (out of sight, out of mind), close the computer screens for the other projects, and
focus in on the project in front of me. I am a very visual learner and do best with visual cues to
keep me on track.
2. Segment and Schedule: When you’re doing work your love, an 8 hour work day from home will
FLY BY like you blinked and made a historical leap in time travel. If you manage more than one
contract or project, make a schedule and stick to it. 9-1130 is dedicated to Project A. 1130 - 230
is dedicated to Project B. 230-430 is dedicated to tying up loose ends and prepping goals and
meeting for the next day.
3. Stack 'Em Up: Chose one day a week to stack meetings. Whether these are sales meetings,
business development meetings, or team accountability meetings, try your best and schedule
them all in one day. Sounds exhausting but it'll be the best use of your time. It allows you to
execute and work in longer uninterrupted intervals of time throughout the week and then focus in
on the meetings and clients on your meeting day.
4. Use what the good Google gave you: If you have only been using your phone's email access,
please download the Gmail app. Lifesaver. You can add up to 5 active email accounts to it and
quickly toggle between email accounts for checking and responding to emails throughout the day.
5. Apps are where it's at : There are many apps that fuel the days of the most productive remote
teams. A few I find grinding away on our remote teams are Trello, Slack, Buffer, Asana, and
Zoom. Trello is an amazing collaborative workspace where you can work in real time with people
virtually and organize different "departments" of your company or team work. Great
maneuverability of taskings and color coding is always a plus! Slack is a team messaging service.
Great for quick correspondence and file sharing for quick reviews. Canva is like Adobe for
dummies. If you can't yet hire your dream unicorn creative design team, Canva will be your best
friend. Zoom is a great video conferencing tool that has great connectivity, host options, recording
options, screen sharing, live chat box, and more.
Erica McMannes is founder/COO of Instant Teams (previously MadSkills). In the past 17 years as an Army spouse, she’s found creative ways to find fulfillment and income that meshed well with the transient and unpredictable military lifestyle. Her career path started out traditionally in 2003, working for Army MWR/CYSS in various Director and leadership positions. But in 2012, Erica found herself consulting for veteran owned startups in Silicon Valley on community growth and branding development. After 4 years in the startup market, she launched out on her own cofounding Instant Teams in 2016. Instant Teams enables companies to scale and manage their remote workforce while delivering remote work options to untapped talent pools of professionals (military spouses, veterans, etc.) Erica is also a Denver 2017 PBC Alum.