Hi! My name is Walter, and I’m one of the millions of Americans who have no commute, no office, and can work all day in my bathrobe and slippers if I want.
I work remotely.
In many ways, working from home is an ideal situation. I save time and money on commuting, I’m able to interact with my wife throughout the day, I’m flexible and can choose my own hours, etc. But it’s not without it’s challenges.
As a follower of Jesus, every aspect of my life must be honoring to Him. It must be designed in such a way that gives Him glory and reflects His character and nature.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
So here are 2 challenges that I’ve encountered in working remotely, and some practical ways that Jesus has guided me in overcoming them.
Challenge #1: Keeping Priorities Straight
I’m always just a few steps away from my laptop, and worse, one swipe away from my email. There’s always some project that needs to be completed, or a problem that needs to be attended. Who wants to be done with work for the day when all you need to do is write that one last email! But all too often that “one email” turns into two emails, and then another task, etc.
Last year I fell into the habit of working through dinner. My loving wife would cook the meal, bring it to the table, and then eat next to me as I typed on my laptop and “finished up some stuff”. Recently we moved to a bigger apartment which provided enough space for a work desk – one that was separate from the kitchen table. I’ll never forget my wife’s comment to me as we ate our first meal together in our new home.
“It will be great to eat dinners with you without the computer!”
I was devastated. At that moment I realized that I had mixed up my priorities, moving “work” into sacred space that should have been reserved for my family. Christians need to be very careful to avoid this mistake – especially those of us who work from home.
Challenge #2: Corralling Distractions
At any given moment of the day, I am one click away from Facebook, Twitter, and a ten million other fun, intriguing, interesting, and tantalizing websites. Working online is often like trying to focus on a boring lecture… smack dab in the middle of a rowdy circus! There are so many things to read, watch, listen to, and learn that have nothing to do with my job description – and in the privacy of my home, no one is watching.
…Except God, that is.
How honest are you? How much integrity do you have?
Integrity is measured by what you do when no one is looking.
Every day, and often multiple times per day, I have to remind myself that I am stealing from my employer when I allow myself to be distracted from my work.
Because of how devastating distraction can be to my productivity and integrity I’ve looked for ways to overcome distraction and protect myself from getting sucked into it’s grip.
With the challenges out on the table, here are a couple practical tips for how to protect your priorities, guard against distraction, and maximize your time.Integrity is measured by what you do when no one is looking. ~ Walter Willis Click To Tweet
Practical Tips for Working Remotely
1. Become An Excellent Time Manager
Divide your day, and even your week into blocks of time that accurately reflect your priorities.
Schedule blocks for work, prayer, Bible study, family meals, recreation, relaxation, ministry, etc. Learn to be focused on the thing that you’re supposed to be doing – when the time for work is done, turn off the laptop, silence the phone, and enjoy a meal with your spouse.
I use Google Calendar to schedule out my week each Sunday, and then discuss the plan with my wife.
2. Arm Yourself Against Distraction
The key to overcoming distraction is to be armed, ready, and have a battle plan. Our minds tend to get distracted when they are either tired or bored.
To help prevent tiredness, take short, frequent breaks for your mind and body. (The Pomodoro technique works extremely well for this). Take a few minutes every now and again to bust out 20 push ups, walk around your house, read a psalm, play with your kids or flirt with your wife.
All of these things bring refreshment, and you’ll return to your desk with renewed vigor and focus.
When the work is boring, (and all work is boring at times), employ “productive distraction” to help keep your mind occupied. Think on how you can make the task less tedious, think on the blessings found in Jesus, meditate on the sermon from Sunday, listen to edifying songs, listen to sermons or audiobooks, etc. During a stretch of fairly monotonous work, I listened to the entire archives of a podcast about Ancient Rome!
Whether you work remotely or not, I hope these practical tips I’ve learned will help you as you seek to live a life of integrity, character, and do all your work for the glory of God!
If you have any ideas about how to stay focused while working remotely please leave a comment below.
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