Have you ever taken a work from home day, only to find that you can’t stop eating? Or perhaps your house is incredibly clean; your kids’ school projects have been alphabetized; you’ve spent $59.87 on coffee and can no longer see. Working remotely takes strategy and discipline: new practitioners often find that they have a tough time finding a rhythm because the markers of a regular workday are missing. To help combat the pitfalls of an otherwise peachy situation, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of productivity tips for remote workers.
Space and time
A widely-touted “benefit” of remote work: working from a beanbag, your bed, or some other soft and non-ergonomic space. Your workspace goes a long way in defining the kind of day you’re going to have. A messy work station may have you feeling distracted; the wrong coworking space may be too loud or too keen on the keg. Understanding what you need from your space — what will allow you to zone in and work — will lead to an environment that is both conducive and inspiring. That workspace also needs to be simple to access, and preferably located close to friends or acquaintances. See our next tip for more on that.
Pencil me in
One of the best parts about going to work is… well… your workmates. Ross in marketing has a Holzhauer-like knowledge of basketball; Tia brings in cookies every week; Dayna has likely split up with her girlfriend again. Finding time to connect with co-workers is an excellent way to schedule breaks, create boundaries within your working day, and avoid the loneliness that sometimes plagues remote workers. Whether you are able to meet with your actual co-workers, or a nearby pal for a coffee or walk around the block, having a hard time to step away from your computer breaks the day into manageable chunks rather than an endless stretch of Internet. It also gives you the opportunity to talk out tricky problems with a third party. You might just come back to your desk with a brand new approach.
Unfriend, mute, or block?
Facebook has become the Pavlovian response to minor boredom. Command T “f-a-c-e” and boom: you’re seeing surprise engagements, an aunt has made a problematic post that she thought was a private message, someone you met once seven years ago has gotten into homebrew. When working remotely, you lack the pressure of optics: opening Facebook for a quick scroll can too easily become an hour-long fall. Rid yourself of the temptation. Install a newsfeed blocker and you’ll be left with a blank Facebook news feed every time you log in. Notifications and messages will still appear, but because you’re less able to interact with your Facebook community, you’ll find yourself using the platform for its explicit purpose: to connect with friends — when you want to.
Don’t push me
Push notifications: they seemed like a great idea at the time. That was back on week one, where all you had access to was your company email. Now, you’ve got Slack, email, calendar notifications, iMessage, Wrike assignments, Trello updates, Jira tickets, wait — why do I have Freshdesk?
Enough. Push notifications CAN be handy, but most of the time they simply serve to split your attention amongst a thousand different tasks. Determine which push notifications are actually conducive to your goal for that day: if you tend to lose track of time, keep your calendar notifications going. If you work on an editorial team, Slack pings might be crucial. You just need to choose your push notifications carefully — there’s a very thin line separating notifications and distractions.
Simplify and centralize tools
In a truly efficient world, we all tap into the same neural pathway and have our marketing meetings on the astral plane. The Internet is a close but clumsy second: there seems to be an app or program for every conceivable style of working, and my god if your company isn’t going to try each and every one of them. Just like push notifications, transcribing or relaying information across platforms is a really distracting task. And a time consuming one. Copy-pasting messages and editing for team-specific clarity will kill your flow, and leave you craving the sweet neural relief that only your Facebook newsfeed can provide.
A tool like Unito syncs different work management tools together, so you can still collaborate without spending your day jumping from tab to tab, app to app. This is extra important for remote workers, as you don’t have the luxury of just popping your head over the cubicle to ask your neighbor how the project is going. If all of your communications and updates are going to live online, having them all (or as many as is possible) in one place is the best way to stay productive.
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Productivity is going to look different every day for remote workers. Sometimes it means banging out reports, forwarding deliverables, and collaborating with your team. Sometimes it means quietly reading blog posts or watching YouTube videos to build a new skill. Productivity tips for remote workers are only as effective as they are personal: when you’re figuring out how to be productive, trust yourself. Only you know how you can produce your best work. Trust those instincts, collaborate with your team, and you’ll be flying through your work week.