This summer, we launched our online community. We talk about different things like gears, ergonomics, jobs or freelancing.
Remote work can feel lonely at times, and we are together to share jokes and good vibes. We see our community as a mix between a virtual watercooler and a place where we share tips.
We are obsessed with productivity. Today, we are sharing some of our tips with you.
Because working remotely means working outside of the office and we need to be highly organized to achieve our work on time.
This is a special article and the first collaborative one. 11 of our awesome members have put together their best tips to become a better remote worker.
We hope you will enjoy reading these tips. :)
Cyn is a remote support professional for Apple. Her background includes QA, technical writing, and administration. She's open to new remote opportunities.
First, have a separate workspace with a door that closes! There will be times when you want to and can work in the living room or a coffee shop, but sometimes you need to put your head down and focus, and that door will be a blessing then. Make that space your sanctuary. Give it good lighting, make sure your desk and chair have good ergonomics and pay attention to the soundproofing.
Next is to set good boundaries with the other humans in your life. They need to understand that being at home (or at a coffee shop, or the pool) doesn't mean you aren't working. Most people understand this better now than when I started telecommuting in 1990, but there can still be issues on occasion.
Your gear comes next. Make it solid. It's worth it to pay more for quality, because it's unlikely that you'll have spares on hand or an IT department backing you up when (not if) something goes wrong. Make multiple backups on a regular basis. Make it a ritual that you practice religiously.
Finally, the most important thing I've learned in all these years of working remotely is to take good care of yourself. You can't be productive if you aren't healthy. It's all too easy to fall into working all the time when you work remotely, to blur the lines between work and home until they're gone. Turn all of the devices off at a set time each day. Take time to get regular exercise, to go outside. See some people who have nothing at all to do with your profession. Do something creative and have fun. You'll be better for it comes the next work day.
Ugo is the Chief Technical Architect at the Shadow Robot Company, where he drives the technical roadmap.
Maximising productivity through location changes
As remote workers, we all thrive to tune our routines to maximize productivity. After more than four years or experimentation, what I found works best for me is the choice of location. Choosing a location based on your current task is crucial to your productivity levels. For me here's what works best. I start each day with a one-hour slow cardio session. While I cycle I can do all my trivial tasks. I catch up with my emails and interact on social medias. I also read articles related to my field or store articles I need to analyze more in depth for later. I then go to my favorite cafe to analyze my gathered information.
I find cafes the best place to process a lot of information. For focused work sessions, I go to my local coworking space. In that office-like space, I can focus the most and use all my tools to tackle the brunt of my work.
When I have to deal with long video calls, I head home. Being strict about that routine helps me separate each type of focus I need. Walking to a new space for a new set of tasks also gives me the time I need to be a hundred percent focused on arrival.
Finally, I do my best to set some time aside in the evening or early in the mornings to learn new things from home. Study a MOOC, read articles that are not in my field!
John is one of the founders of Lucid Meetings, where he spends most of his time developing systems and software that improve online meetings.
Our biggest productivity issue is losing effectiveness via too much task switching! We’ve taken to batching our activities as much as possible. So we try to put all our coordination / meeting activities on Monday, full development focuses on Tuesday through Thursday, week-in-review on Friday. Client meetings can disrupt that, but we try to hold the line. Establishing a routine and cadence are key.
Emilie is the brains behind Burke Does, inspiring millennial women to live financially, physically, and professionally fit lives. When she’s not blogging, she’s probably building a new web app for fun or using R to manipulate data and ETL processes. She loves Crossfit, data, and learning, not in that order.
Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself!
If you’ve already got an office or a space that works, don’t be afraid to invest in a setup that really works for you. That might be a mechanical keyboard, a second screen, or laptop stand.
Every month, I spend a little bit of time thinking about what in my setup isn’t working and what could be better. Initially, the cost was scary, but it has made a huge difference and I am more productive at home than anywhere else.
Jonas is a Python software developer at Ostmodern, building innovative digital video products.
My remote journey has only started a few weeks ago and I'm also the first and only remote worker at my company.
I'm lucky to be in a later time zone than the rest of my colleagues, this way I can put in a workout before work without having to get up too early.
Having a run, swim or small cycle trip clears my mind and gives me the energy to start my work day.
I have a separate room in the house that is now known as my office. Even though my parents and mostly my girlfriend come in, distractions are reduced to a minimum.
Erica has been working from home for different companies since 2003, but writing is her true passion. She created her website to share posts she has written in different categories, such as working from home, health-related posts, writing, reviews of products she has tried and books she has read.
Get organized the night before - I make my to do list and lay out my workout clothes and weights (if I'm going to need them for my workout) the night before.
Make sure your workspace is organized, and that you know where to find things you'll need.
Decide what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and maybe even dinner too, the night before. Better yet, plan your meals for the week on the weekend.
Relax for a few minutes before you start your workday - that way you'll be in the right frame of mind to be productive and handle any challenges that come up during the day.
Alexandre is a college student at ENIB where he studies Computer Science, Electronics, and Mecatronics. In his spare time, he writes for Stuffi.fr about the Internet of Things or works on side projects, currently chatbots.
Being a productive remote worker is not easy but it’s worth it.
Finding the best tools to be the most productive is an important part of the remote journey. The key is to find your perfect workflow and stick to it as much as possible . You should not change your workflow every few days. Personally, if I want to try a new app (which I do a lot ), I just try it on the side but don’t switch entirely. That’s a tip to not lose time by switching between apps and software.
Try to find versatile tools you can use in different use cases. Try to only use the tools that help you become more productive and efficient. Not because everyone is using it. :)
One of the keys to be productive is also to organize your days by energy levels.
Personally, I like working in the morning so I wake up earlier, after preparing my todo list for the next day the night before. When I wake up, I know what I need to do during the day and don’t lose time. I can begin working faster and can finish earlier. Find your more productive hours and adapt your day to them.
As a remote worker but also a college student, finding the place where you work best is very useful. Try to work from different places and after a couple days, see where you work best.
Kalina is a remote product manager working out of Europe with a specialization in video streaming, content based apps and other marketplace driven projects.
Always be unblocking. As a general rule to working remote is: make sure flow never stops because of you! While comms over Slack, email, Facetime and SMS make our job easier, it is often easy to miss a step that blocks work for a few hours or a couple of days. When you add time zoning issues to this, a trivial issue can become a blocker that will add strain to your deadline and working relationships. Tackling issues based on unblocking value is a good priority order that makes overall progress work in your favor.
In addition to this, milestone everything! This means, act in agile principles in your work to the core, including your payouts and agreements. Make sure you minimize overall risk to by committing to deliverables and payments in 2 week increments. This way, you can easily see when something is not working and you can easily come back, unblock and reset.
Build your work system
And as ever, be disciplined in how you work so you can know done/in progress/needs to be done at all times. I’ve been using bullet journaling and absolutely love it. Another good example is Rodolphe’s Evernote document-per-person system . Whatever you do, tune it to what your tasks are and make sure it works like clockwork to unblock and always have you growing!
Leif works at Automattic, Inc., the makers of WordPress.com and many other tools for online publishing. Below, he shares a few tips on controlling your habits.
Learn to Control Your Habits. As a remote worker, you've got no one else to synchronize your daily rhythm with. This is especially true in remote-first companies, such as Automattic. Here, the default often is to communicate and work asynchronously. That means you'll have to create your own rhythm.
Our routines — that is, our habits — determine most of our rhythm every day. Studies have shown that up to half of what we do is guided by our habits. E.g., let's say you want to prepare for the next day the night before, as Erica suggests — that's a habit. So having some control over your habits can be very powerful.
But getting into new habits can be pretty hard. Here are a few things that in the past have helped me get into new habits:
Triggers: you won't do what you don't remember. You need to remind yourself. So
get an app that supports recurring reminders. It's a cheap way to make your future self do stuff. But you'll only bother with those tasks to be set yourself if you ...
Aim low: you're trying to get into a habit, not produce the greatest work from day one.
Focus on making it a regular thing first. To be able to do that, you need to let go of your inner editor for a while. If you want to write every day because you want to write a novel, then start with writing a bad story every day, using only 10 to 20 minutes. Only focus on getting better when you've got the habit working.
Tangible artifacts: I get the motivated the most when I create. When I finish something. When I feel progress. But for larger projects, we often need to delay these feelings of accomplishment. That's why it's important to create tangible intermediate artifacts to keep yourself going. Break down your tasks further until you're sure to have three things to complete every day. This may seem like a simple and cheap psychological trick — and it kind of is — but it's also powerful and it works. You're increasing the opportunities you'll have to finish something, and that helps you keep your momentum going.
Habits set me up to be productive every day by providing a framework for my creativity, even if I'm not inspired or am having a bad day. By showing up every day, I'm making sure to be there when inspiration strikes. And I make progress on some grunt work on all the other days.
The tips above are just three examples — read here for six more tactics that help you control your habits.
The tips above are just three examples — read here for six more tactics that help you control your habits.
Ilia is a digital marketing consultant who helps his clients succeed with all aspects of inbound marketing: setting up websites and improving conversion rates, producing amazing content, and distributing it through social media. He has worked with all kind of companies: from SaaS startups just making their first steps, to huge international institutions.
Although I’ve experimented with pretty much any productivity technique that’s out there, very few have stuck as habits, and for those there’s usually at least some level of “customization” I’ve done.
Here’s an example of what is probably the most persuasive of those:
I’ve tried using Pomodoro many times, but I actually find that the short work sessions distract me and interrupt me at the point where I have the best ‘flow’. Additionally, having to worry about using software and/or counting Pomodoro's adds to the cognitive load (I’m mildly OCD about these things...)
What I’ve started to do instead is use Caffeine both as a tool to keep my laptop from falling asleep and a Pomodoro timer of sorts. I have set it for 1 hour and every time the hour runs out, I’d get up, walk around, rest, and recharge. That way I don’t have to worry about using multiple tools and it’s very nondisruptive - if it runs out and I’m in flow, I just take my time.
Allison McMillan is a software developer at Collective Idea. She's worn many hats including startup founder, community builder at the University of Michigan, and Managing Director of a national non-profit. When she's not coding, you can find her encouraging her toddler's climbing skills or pretending she has time to bake. Allison lives in the Washington, DC area.
I use a handful of tools to organize myself and my day which helps make me more productive. I used to use Evernote but switched to OneNote which has been pretty good to make daily and weekly to-do lists that sync across all my devices.
I create and reorganize my lists at the beginning of the week to "bucket" my days together. I try to stay on one project for an entire day and then I reserve one day for most of my meetings and then just plan small things to work on in the time I have in between meetings (things that I can quickly get my head into and that can be stopped and started at any time).
This helps minimize context switching time. I use rescue time to evaluate how I did and how productive I was during the week and try to notice trends or issues.
The other thing I do is allow myself to have "off" days. I put a lot of pressure on myself when I started working remotely to be 100% productive 100% of the time but that wasn't true when I was working from an office.
There were days in the office where I would be a little unmotivated or be a little chattier with colleagues and so I found that it's important to also allow myself that time when working remotely and not beat myself up about it. Some days you're super productive and others you're less so and that happens no matter where you work from.
What a great list of tips! We were astonished when we first read them all. What do you think? Let us know below. :)