Today, as I set up my temporary working space in the new house, I started thinking about all my friends who are going to be working from home this week. The first time I started remote work 5 years ago, I remember being overwhelmed and feeling like there was no way I could be productive. It only took me a week or two to realize that through remote work I could capitalize on my productivity on my own terms, and I’m pretty sure I will never be going back to working in an office:
Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way. Any data comes from Buffer and this year’s State of Remote Report:
- 👨💻 Set Boundaries- The biggest struggle for remote workers (22%) is unplugging after work. Set boundaries for yourself and disconnect from work when you need to. Set up different accounts for work and personal, so that you can turn off the work one when you’re done. Don’t answer emails on your personal time. Remember that now you won’t have to do all your work between the hours of 9-5 so feel free to capitalize on your productivity and do your work when you know you’re most productive. Limit access to social media to keep yourself from falling in a trap.
- 👥 Connect with Friends- The second-largest struggle for remote workers (18%) is social isolation. Through remote work, you have more flexibility to take a call from a friend or text anyone throughout the day in moments where you may be less busy. Leverage that and find it as an opportunity to connect with others in your life outside of just co-workers.
- 📎 Find the Right Tools- As you probably already know, there are a number of tools that help remote work structures. Zoom is my favorite for video calls and I couldn’t really live without Slack as my main method of communication. I have also found success with many agile methodologies like Scrum and tools that help with project management like Jira, Trello or Clubhouse. For hardware, get another monitor if you do a lot of data or are used to a second screen, and you need a pair of headphones that feel good when you wear them long-term. Mine is the thick headset type that completely covers my ears. Work from a desk, not from a couch or bed.
- 🎮 Limit Distractions- Ah yes, it’s an easy time to catch up on some Netflix shows while catching up. But put a limit on these. These are fine if you’re doing execution work that is mundane and semi-automatic. But if you need to think through things, these will keep you from finishing. Cut em out.
- 🏡 Decide the Best Location- You need a place with plenty of light. If you have video conferences, you’ll look better if you have a window or light behind the camera. (Trust me, I’ve had meetings at 4 am where that trick has come in handy). Oh, and whatever room you choose has to be one that you like.
- 👟 Dress for your Goal- This here is probably psychological, but dang does it help me. If I need to finish something quickly, I put on my sneakers and need to be in a sitting position. For me, just putting sneakers on makes me feel more agile. If you’re working barefoot, it may feel too relaxing— which is fine if you’re doing some easy tasks or listening in on calls. If you want to deliver a good presentation, put on a jacket, pants, however, are optional.
- ⏳ Take Plenty of Breaks- Do this often. Whenever you’re feeling burnt out just get up and walk around. Integrate with your family or check up on your friends. Walk outside if you have access so you get some sun. It’s better than wasting time and talking smack around the watercooler, I promise.
- 🍵 Drink Plenty of Liquids- Keep hydrated. It keeps you from going through brain fog. If you’re a caffeine junkie, try including some teas throughout the day so it increases your water intake without overloading on too much coffee. I’m a big fan of starting the day with Bulletproof MCT oil either with coffee or water to have a fog-free day. I also take my supplements, including adrenal health supplements that fight fatigue!
- 📣 Communicate Your Schedule- Let your family know how your day looks like. I let my wife know whether its a “meeting day”, “strategy day”, “easy day”, etc and all over time have come to mean different things. It’s important that everyone in the house knows what your day is like so they know how to navigate around it as well.
- 👪 Time for Play- The biggest benefit of remote work is the time you’re given back. No commuting, no wasteful watercolor talk, no wasting time in unproductive office games. Use the time you gain to do something for yourself that you’ve always wanted to do. Learn. For me, it’s a chance to enjoy the shit out of time with my family. Getting to squeeze my little one every time I take a break, and getting to enjoy a little break for a quick cuddle with my wife. Make the time yours.
Feel free to reach out if you need anything!