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Have you been workshifting for a good while now? Is your routine running as smoothly as a solar-powered greenhouse on a sunny day? Are your colleagues/clients fully on board with your working off-site or from a home office? Do you maintain your momentum and reach your goals every single day? If you answered yes to each question, then you are a PRO at this thing we call workshifting!

For most people – who do not have anyone telling them exactly what work to do and where, how and when to do it – the formula for successful workshifting might be a bit more fluid. The age-old perception holds that if you sit in a cubicle or corporate office every day from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM (or some variation thereof), you are setting yourself up for automatic productivity and success. However, having managed and been managed myself, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that some days more time is spent logging in to personal email, browsing for my next iPhone case and adding new friends Facebook than on any spreadsheet or customer email.

And such is the fallacy of the 9-to-5 workday, where the veil of “structure” does not necessarily equate to productivity. So, when you pull the curtain back on regular hours and locations, workshifters are left to their own devices to set the pace for their work, identify goals for each day, chart our their motivation levels and still meet every client’s demands. Easier said than done some days, eh?

Thanks to some great advice from a stellar business coach, I have learned to follow a few simple productivity boosters:

  1. Separate your daily to-dos into “important and urgent” (i.e., must get done today, so focus!) and “not important/not urgent” (can wait a day or two, and if they’re still not done, transfer them to a longer-term goal list).
  2. Avoid setting yourself up to fail by listing too many important and urgent tasks – limit them to 4 or 5 if you can.
  3. Identify what the rewards and consequences are of finishing versus ignoring these tasks.

These 3 points have changed the way I view my own productivity and success. I had to hit a productivity low and risk burning out before I realized that I was taking on too many things and trying to complete them all at once.

One of the things I love most about workshifting is the ability to steer my own ship, but that means as the captain, I’m the only one who can get me from point A to point B. That delicate balance has taken me some time to test, adjust, re-test and finally succeed with. One of the most tried and true methods for making a recipe work is trial and error, as any chef or baker will tell you, and the same rings true for workshifting.

Photo Credit: mistersnappy

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Natalya Sabga is a project management professional and operational efficiency expert turned author, consultant and executive education advisor. Fascinated by the study of human behavior, she has parlayed this into a successful writing career. Ms. Sabga is also the author of "From Secretary to CEO: A Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder Without Losing Your Identity" (2010). She is also the President of DNterprises, LLC - a firm specializing in project needs' analysis, and project management from implementation to operation. Ms. Sabga is currently working on her next non-fiction narrative, "A PMP's Guide to Project Managing Your Life," and authoring the blog 'ASK N'.
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    As a person who works in an office and at home from time to time, I completely appreciate these points. When at home, I want to pace myself some days to fill my day and other days I want to knock things out early to get a jump on future projects. You have to be self motivated and if you are like me, distractions will get the better of you, make your workspace a workspace and take breaks so you don’t get burnt out.