Working Remotely: How to Stay Productive and on Top of Your Work Outside of the Office
in Emerging Leaders
By: Natalie Spangenberg, NJCUL Marketing and Communications Specialist

Upon writing this, the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) was in full swing in Washington D.C., and it brought to mind how often professionals work outside of their physical offices. Whether you are at a conference, convention or just working from home, you can find yourself sitting in your home office, a Starbucks café, or even a random conference room—as long as it has WiFi.

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This past week, I was in Boston, Massachusetts, working remotely to get my objectives done before celebrating a long weekend break and of course, St. Paddy’s. Let me take you back and tell you how I stayed on top of my tasks.

Here are some tips on how to stay productive and on top of your work outside of the office.

First and foremost…

Make Sure You Have a Good Wi-Fi Connection!
Nothing can stir up my anxiety more than a poor Wi-Fi connection and a deadline! Plan ahead.

If you are working at home, you can rest assured there is Wi-Fi. If you’re planning to set-up in a local coffee shop, make sure they have Wi-Fi before heading over. If you’re unsure, you can always count on Starbucks. If you are working a live event, this gets a bit trickier. Especially if you are attending these events within a hotel or even an outside venue. My advice is to see where there’s service and where there’s not beforehand. Better yet, invest in a Wi-Fi hotspot so that you can quickly turn it on when you need service and get your work done quickly and efficiently.

I learned this the hard way two years ago when I started at the New Jersey Credit Union League, and was facing my first year working at our Annual Convention and Business Meeting in Atlantic City. I was so excited and eager to work, but as I raced around the hotel, I noticed how the Internet connection was not very strong in most areas. For us social media and technology gurus, this simply won’t do. Safe to say, I learned my lesson and invested in a hotspot, which is a LIFE SAVER. My work gets done before deadline and my anxious mind stays calm. On to the next assignment!

Save. Save. Save.
This tip is tried and true no matter where you’re working, but is extra important when you’re detached from the comfort of your desk, your hard drive, and your server.

Create, edit, and save as many documents as possible while you’re in the office BEFORE you start working remotely. Be sure to have duplicates available in various places. Save copies to your desktop, to a thumb drive, to a cloud drive like Google Docs or DropBox…save anywhere and everywhere. That way you’re covered if a file suddenly won’t open because it was a created using newer software than what you have available, if you need to make an emergency stop at the hotel’s Business Center to print copies, share a presentation via email, etc.

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Find a Quiet Place to Work
Of course, this can be hard, especially if you are running around or stationed in a Starbucks, but try to find a place as comfortable and as quiet as possible so your focus doesn’t take a detour to the person ordering the new Cloud Macchiato. For myself, if I find myself in a busier place, I’ll even plug in some headphones and listen to music so that I can drown out the conversations around me and focus on the task at-hand. For those who can’t focus with noise, try to find a quieter room for you to focus. If one is not available, try the headphone technique, but listen to classical music instead so you don’t lose focus on lyrics or words.

Right now, I’m working downstairs in the hotel’s café on my laptop because I knew that if I stayed upstairs, I would get distracted by the T.V. or the big bed that I can dive right into (don’t do it!). For me, noise doesn’t affect my focus as much so working in a busier place where other people are working or rushing to get to their own jobs keeps my brain going and focused on what I need to do. Red Bull also keeps my brain going, but that’s another story.

Create a List to Plan Out Your Day
This tip is not only great for work (and working remotely!), it is also a great tool on your days off if you have a bunch of stuff to get done or if you are in school! I love making lists and I often start with an easy task to start my day off so that I can cross it out right away. You will feel more motivated and ready to start the other, much harder tasks after you cross off one. Trust me, it does work!

If you’re outside of the office, have your list on-hand, or even make that list the days prior on your phone so that you can check-in throughout the day and plan what you should be doing next. This helps me tremendously to prepare and execute our marketing and communication ventures at our Annual Convention and Business Meeting in Atlantic City, not to mention the other events we host throughout the year! For conventions and other live events, especially GAC, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a schedule so you know where you need to be, but also a list for what you need to accomplish throughout the day so you stay on-track during the chaos.

So, the next time you are working outside of the office, keep these simple tips in mind as you make your way through the day. It’s easy to lose focus at times and push off certain assignments to later. Don’t be that person and get things done so that you have more time later to focus on YOU. Safe travels!

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for an in-depth look at CUNA’s GAC and the Crasher Program that will highlight the 2019 experience of Crasher Amanda Meeker from Jersey Shore FCU!