“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” –Jim Rohn
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As a famous quote once said, “success leaves clues”. This applies equally to those who successfully work remotely. Over time successful remote/virtual/telecommute employees, freelancers and business owners develop a set of traits and characteristics that facilitate their increased effectiveness and efficiency without active oversight and direction of others. To be successful as a remote worker, start with these four characteristics.
1. Self Direction / Self Motivation / Self Discipline.
I bundled these traits into a single characteristic because they are all branches off of the same tree. This characteristic is essential, without a minimal acceptable level; do not attempt to work remotely. Working remotely comes with a different set of challenges, distractions and temptations than working in an office environment surrounded by your peers. On both good days and bad you need to be able to whip your own butt into gear and create timely, quality work output that exceeds expectations. It may be tempting to sleep in, watch a movie or play computer games, but that will not thrill your employer or customer and put bread on the table.
2. Goal Orientation.
You must learn to constantly set and prioritize your work, break it down into manageable tasks, execute the completion of tasks by priority, and monitor your progress throughout the day, adjusting as priorities change. Part of goal orientation is working on the right things at the right time and knowing the definition of ‘done’ for each task and goal.
3. Independent Spirit / Self Starter.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may spend several hours per day on your own. This often takes an independent streak. At other times you will need to make important decisions without immediate feedback from colleagues or customers. Many times you will need to ‘figure it out’ on your own. This characteristic includes the ability to learn quickly and a desire / love of self directed, lifelong learning and curiosity.
Remote work can offer up opportunities to cushion billable hours, book time not worked, do shoddy work, and so forth. This is a terrible policy that will ruin your reputation. Always be honest in all of your dealings.
There are many other desirable characteristics for remote workers; however, these are the minimum requirements and an excellent starting point.
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