At Remotive, we love productivity and doing things done. But we also think that it's important to take time to disconnect and recharge!
Today, we are sharing some of our tips with you.
Because working remotely means working outside of the office and sometimes it can be difficult to know when to disconnect.
9 of our awesome members have put together their best tips to become a better remote worker.
We hope you will enjoy reading these tips. :)
Leif works at Automattic, Inc., the makers of WordPress.com and many other tools for online publishing.
Remote work can be a double-edged sword.
It gives you so many freedoms! Especially if you work in a remote-first company that embraces asynchronous communication.
At the same time, never being around people — colleagues, or even strangers in public — can take a toll on one's mood.
We're social animals. Most of us need other people to feel meaning in our lives.
At work, I solve this by switching around where I work. Sometimes I'll sit in my apartment all by myself. When the kids come home, I might switch to a bustling co-working space for the rest of the day. And on days with many scheduled calls, I'll work in an office a few friends let me sit in from time to time.
But to properly recharge, you also need to disconnect from work from time to time. Some people like long stretches of vacation, and I agree that can be nice. But much more valuable to me is the ability to put some variation into my everyday life.
Because work at Automattic can happen pretty asynchronously, on some days I'll decide to spend the afternoon with the kids and move any work that can't wait till tomorrow into the evening.
Because I can work at home, I can also use a 20 minute break to play my guitar. Or take a quick nap on the couch.
Finally, I have a piano lesson once every week. That gives me interaction with a teacher, and that I find highly engaging. And it also gives me opportunity to do serious work on a non-work thing that I want to improve.
Create diversity and variety in your life — change up what you do, where you work, and whom you surround yourself with. Make time for creative moments — regularly. This makes for more interesting and engaging days.
Remi is COO and partner at Dogu, a young Norwegian software company building and operating SalesScreen. He currently works remotely from Bayeux (France) where he lives with his wife.
Learn about a entirely different topic.
To me, this is one of the best way to disconnect as your brain is fully focussed on something totally outside of the scope of your work.
Whether it was attending a conference on urban planning in my city, joining a local TEDx event, taking classes to learn russian or watching a debate about policies on education, I have always left with the sensation of having really put work aside for a few hours and having learnt something new.
Why should do I bother, why does it matters you ask?
It matters because learning something totally new, puts me in a position that I very likely cannot afford to be in at work: that of a beginner. As a result I become more humble, more self reflected and more inclined to absorbing, synthesizing and assimilating new information. Aren’t these skills indirectly valuable in a professional context too?
Of course they are; I don’t become an entirely different person when I pass the doormat of my office. But even if these skills weren’t valuable to my job, who knows what can come out of spending a few hours a week learning something new. I may meet someone who will become a friend, discover a new hobby or at the very least kill a few hours doing something else than watching another episode of The Big Bang Theory.
So be curious, scan around and give it a shot: meetup, TEDx, your nearby coffee shop, a library, your city’s theater, a local association… the places aren’t scarce.
Ben is the Marketing Director for WisePops and also consults for other businesses. He is currently working remotely from Paris, but soon will be nomading across Asia and Australia.
My method of disconnecting and recharging sounds simple, but it’s taken me years to get it down properly. I’m a seasonal person; my energy and drive undulates more than I would like. Thus, I’ve considered the question of how to stay motivated a lot throughout both my professional and personal life quite a bit.
Either in a specific time of year (typically when it’s cold) or when I feel myself wearing thin, I know it’s time to recharge. Like most of us, I’m almost always in front of one screen or another. The best way for me to recharge is to do the exact opposite: disconnect completely. I’ve found this is only really possible, at least for me, when I change the setting.
I travel somewhere new for a weekend to a month when time allows, and I leave my computer behind. (full disclosure: I bring my cellphone, but I keep it in airplane mode and only use it for GPS). I bring a few fiction books, a camera, a paper notebook and a few pens. Sounds retro right? It is.
When I’m constantly being bombarded with notifications and artificial light from varyingly sized rectangles, it’s harder for me enjoy my current soundings and time. I’m somewhere else, thinking about something in the future or past. Being in a new setting, without any connected tech, allows me to realize how much I value and need the present location and moment. This is what recharges me to return to wherever home is, and get back to work on my glowing rectangles
Bayu is a Creative Visual Designer with skill set of UI/UX, Graphic Design, a bit frontend and illustration. Working remotely for Powerfront.com from Bandung, Indonesia
My method of disconnect and recharge is something like these steps:
How to Disconnect:
Step back: Since I’m working 8 hours full in front of screen, I need to turn off my computer for a while.
Take a deep breath: doing something else that is not related to my work. Just give yourself some relaxing hours. Or since I have kid, I make the most with him. Having a quality time with family.
I usually do these until my inner-self find the need to design or work again.
Now, to boost my inner urge to work again, I usually Meetup or hangout with people with related profession. Sharing and listening to stories from fellow designer/people with the same profession with you are always intrigued me. Their struggle, success or happiness story always aspired me.
Thibault is a digital marketing consultant working with startups, and marketing agencies. When he’s not working, he’s usually recording his podcast “Digital Digest” or writing on his blog.
I’m lucky enough to be a remote freelancer living in the South of France (insert cliche of the sun, the beach, and a colourful cocktail!) So there are a lot of perks that come with that. In addition, I’m living in the center of a medium-sized city: another perk that directly leads to my happy lifestyle of being able to walk around the city with my computer in my bag and working from a cafe a few times a week.
How to Disconnect:
My way of disconnecting is simple: whenever I feel like I need to take a break from work, I make a note of the advancement of the project I’m on, and leave with my keys, wallet and phone. Sometimes, it’s a short break to grab a coffee and come back, sometimes it’ll be meeting with a friend or running a couple of errands.
Even a small break helps me reorganise my thoughts, plan ahead on the next client work to be done, or simply helps me to take a breather from a busy day.
These days, despite the heavy load of work to wrap up before the end of the year, it’s rare that I spend my entire day indoor. And if and when I do, my Fitbit is always there to shame me into talking a walk during the day or after my work is done.
When it comes to recharging, nothing is obviously as efficient as taking a proper vacation. To each his own: some of us want to spend time with friends, or discover a new city and culture. And some of us prefer to be outdoors, or in remote places where they can completely disconnect from their day-to-day lives.
But even if a vacation is not available for a few more weeks or months, I find working in a different environnement (or even better, a different city to be very beneficial.)
For me, it’s usually a week-long break in Paris where I’m going to catch up with friends during my off-time, but also work in cafes and coworking spaces during the week. I’ve actually met some members of the Remotive community like this, IRL / AFK after months of chatting online.
I guess in conclusion, I’d add that we are an incredibly fortunate bunch, at the forefront of “the future of work”: we’re location independent, employees and freelancers and can work at any hour of the day and from anywhere. It doesn’t get any better than that.
And while it’s great to set some sort of routine, it’s also worth trying something new with the free schedule that you now possess.
Emilie is a Data Associate at Allovue and 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.
How to Disconnect: Establish your boundaries early on! It’s much easier to maintain boundaries that it is to have to re-establish them. For that reason, it’s worth putting in the effort early to communicate with your team about your remote-working situation, particularly around your work hours and work space.
My team knows that I’m usually at my desk from 7 AM - 5 PM with a gap around 8 AM for when I’m at Crossfit and a gap for lunch around 1 PM. Any requests that come in before or after that, they know I will likely not respond to them until I’m back at my desk or it’s clearly an emergency. While it can be tricky, especially if your team crosses time zones, it is definitely worthwhile.
Having a dedicated workspace in your home can also help you feel like you’re going to and leaving work. I have an office that is used exclusively for work. When I’m not there, I’m not working. My work computer, in fact, doesn’t leave the office (while my personal laptop may travel the whole house). Feeling like you’ve left work is one of the best ways to mentally disconnect.
How to Recharge:
The idea of “recharging” is predicated on the idea of “running out of charge.” The real wins, thus, come from being able to sustain yourself consistently. One of the best ways for me to do this is by reading. I read 15 pages every morning before I get out of bed, so I get just over 100 pages read every week. This has helped me read more books this year than ever before. (I should end the year at 25!)
Sam is a wandering twenty-something who loves salsa dancing, hammocks, books, and quality sandwiches. She spends her days working remotely on spanishdict and the rest of her time looking for cheap flights, connecting with people, napping, optimizing her backpack-packing strategies, and running around whichever city or park she happens to be closest to.
I love being able to take my work with me anywhere - but there’s a fine line between that and taking my work with me everywhere. To stay sane, I have to disconnect. All kinds of activities can function as a barrier between work and personal time.
Sometimes I use exercise to close out my day, or head to the kitchen, turn up some tunes, and let myself become absorbed in cooking a good meal. Having plans with friends or chatting with a loved one on the phone helps me get my head out of work, too. In fact, making any sort of time-sensitive plans - such as a martial arts class or soccer game after work - helps me avoid the “I’ll just finish this one last thing” effect, where my work bleeds later and later into my night.
I make an effort to remove myself from my work, both physically leaving my workspace, and doing a “brain dump” of work-related ideas and to-dos onto paper in order to to mentally set my work down for the night.
Working remotely has made my more aware of my working rhythms - I recharge in order to pace myself as my focus naturally waxes and wanes. Day to day, this means breaking my work into chunks and taking breaks. I might grab a 20 minute nap, have a Skype call with a long-distance friend for my lunch break, or spend a little time reading or writing in between larger work tasks. Longer term, I use my environment to help me recharge.
Sometimes, that means working a few weeks in a place where I know few people and mostly keep to myself - the introvert in me needs the solo time. Other times, I get my energy by visiting family and friends that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to see very often - an opportunity afforded to me by remote work that I cherish!
Most importantly, I constantly experiment with new ideas to disconnect and recharge, so that I can return to my work with renewed energy and keep wandering with my laptop!
Ugo is the Chief Technical Architect at the Shadow Robot Company, where he drives the technical roadmap.
How to disconnect:
I believe that being able to disconnect is key to keep your sanity intact when remote working. As a Remoty, I find that I always need to swap from my family hat to my working hat in an instant. Both transitions are hard to achieve.
Every day, before going to pick up my kids from school, I do a braindump in my bullet journal. This helps me put work aside for the evening. I can stop worrying about the problem I'm currently working on since I know that it'll wait for me in the morning.
Transitioning the other way around - Dad -> Work - is also hard. What works best for me is to take short walks outside - switching workplaces . This frees up my mind and put me in working mode.
How to recharge:
Aside from holidays, I keep my batteries up through sports. I keep a daily routine for my water-polo trainings and conditioning. But the one thing that truly charges me up is surfing. Paddling in the sea, catching the waves, enjoying the strength of nature, ... Aside from the obvious, it reminds me of the amazing perks of remote working.
From time to time, when I'm at my lowest, I'll go for an early morning surf session. I can then enjoy the sunrise on the water, thinking how wonderful it is to be working at a great company, from a small sea city like Brest.
Virtual Assistant, Author, Podcaster, and Translator based in Buenos Aires. Until recently, I had a day job in the Argentine criminal courts system, and left to create a life with more freedom for travel and adventure! I co-authored The Antarctica Logbook - The Ultimate Journey
How To Disconnect:
I’m lucky because I work on many different things at the same time, so I’m never bored and I’m always busy with work or my passion projects. At the same time, it can be difficult to disconnect at times.
I’m working in different time zones and with different teams, and my mind can easily go in too many directions at once. Physical activity (pilates, a nice long walk), lunch with friends or on my own with a book or a podcast, my cats, origami and Netflix are my ways to make space for myself away from my laptop.
Not having Facebook or Twitter on my phone also helps. I do have Slack on it of course, but I don’t receive any notifications between 10pm and 8am. I also have a series of night-time rituals: a glass of wine, an early light dinner and no technology other than my Kindle or an episode of whatever show I’m watching at the moment. I’m trying not to use my phone before bed, I don’t always succeed but I am getting better at it!
How To Recharge:
A good book, great music, an inspiring podcast, physical activity, lots of alone time and/or a chat with a good friend. Those never fail in cleansing my mental palate and help me face new challenges and find inspiration. Being present in everything I do has helped me a lot in recent years. I’m not a religious person but I do find I am getting a bit ‘zen’ as years go by. Keeping things simple and minimal in work and life is the best advice I have to give!
What an awesome list of tips! We were astonished when we first read them all. What do you think? Let us know below. :)
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