We’ve all seen the photos—digital nomads traipsing around the world, taking selfies with their laptops on white, sandy beaches. Or maybe it’s the pajama clad freelancer nestled among her fluffy pillows tapping away on her MacBook Pro.

Working remotely can be a dream for many; and now, with its proven increases in productivity, working from home is something that many find themselves dreaming about.

But despite the story those Instagram-filtered pictures tell, it’s not all sand and surf and throw pillows. Here are some tips to bring you back to reality and help you make the most of your remote working experience. 

Tip #1 – Stick to a Schedule

In my early days of working from home, work started before the sun. With young kids to care for, I found my most productive hours came in the dark and silence of early mornings. Unfortunately, I also found that I’d get so engrossed in my work that I’d forget to eat, get dressed, or formally start my day. Before I knew it, the kids were up screaming, “I’M HUNGRY,” and I’d emerge from my cave looking frazzled and wondering where the time had gone. I dropped the ball in every court except work, and that wasn’t acceptable.

Enter: Detailed Scheduling.

I started by scheduling out everything — stretch breaks, meal breaks, gym breaks, homeschooling hours, work hours, house and farm chore hours, everything. I took it one step further by setting alarms to alert me when it was time for any of those breaks, and while it seemed ridiculous at first, I saw a jump in my efficiency and productivity in all areas of working and motherhood.

Make a schedule and treat it with the same respect you would if you were working a typical 9-to-5. It will allow you more efficiency in your day and guard that precious work/life balance.

Tip #2 – Keep Your Health in Mind

We’re talking both physical and mental health here. Working remotely can be a lonely experience. And while the increased solitude is wonderful for minimizing distraction and enhancing productivity, it can get old fast. We’re communal beings by nature so even the most introvert of introverts will find themselves feeling alone and left out if they aren’t careful. Fortunately, there are ways to remedy this situation.

I prefer working in coffee shops. Being the introvert that I am, this gives me just enough people interaction so that I don’t feel completely alone, but I’m still able to be as productive as I’d like.

Another thing to consider: ask what sort of face-to-face opportunities are available in your organization. Here at Weaving Influence, we have monthly meetings where we come together digitally through Zoom to discuss various topics important to the Weaving Influence family. These times are a chance for us to connect, get to know each other better, and be reminded that there’s a living, breathing human on the other end of our screens.

Now let’s talk physical health.

Remote workers have a tendency to sit a lot, making small repetitive movements for hours on end. This is the perfect storm for fatigue and stress to your body and joints. Carpal tunnel, anyone?

Much in the same way that physical labor can be taxing, not moving your body enough can be just as taxing. You were made to move! You need to be conscious of this and actively counteract it. Fortunately, remote workers have the freedom to fit in those mid-day workouts. The gym will be less busy, your brain will enjoy the mental break, and the endorphin release will help with any of the lonely feelings I mentioned earlier. Schedule it (see tip #1) and get it done — your body and work will thank you.

Tip #3 – Not Everyone is Cut Out for Remote Work

Working remotely requires a certain level of discipline and self-motivation. This becomes all the more difficult when you’re actually working from home.

My kids are with me all the time. So, in addition to the mountains of laundry calling my name, I’m constantly being asked important things like, “Who would win a fight, Spider Man or Thanos?” And, “What color bow should I put in my doll’s hair?” It’s taken communication, lots of patience, and firm boundary-setting for the kids and I to figure out what working from home looks like.

But even if you don’t have kids at home, you’ll need to be honest about your ability to ignore distraction and create your own motivation.

Don’t let the internet fool you — working remotely isn’t always as carefree and wonderful as it seems. But with a little insight from those who’ve been at it a while, you can prepare yourself for the hurdles and wins of remote work.

Do you work remotely? What do you love and hate about it? Tell me in the comments!