Working remotely is a huge and sometimes uncomfortable change for folks used to working 9-to-5 in an office setting. Every remote worker has their own unique set of challenges to overcome to stay focused and productive.
Though I have some of my favorites—lots of walks, naps, and home cooked meals keep me happy and productive–I decided to hit up the rest of the Baremetrics team for their favorite tips. Here are some of the best tips and suggestions.
obsessed loving founder has worked remotely for most of his adult life. His secret? Having set work hours. Josh starts early in the morning and heads off every day at 4PM like clockwork. This allows him time to decompress with family, friends and hobbies.
He schedules his days meticulously. “Be very intentional with your time,” Josh stresses. “Budgeting time is a lot like budgeting money. Just as Dave Ramsey says you need to ‘give every dollar a name’ you need to ‘give every minute an assignment’.”
Read more about how Josh uses OmniFocus to organize the chaos of running a startup.
- Have set work hours and schedule each day, to the minute if possible.
- When your day is done, be done. Unplug at the end of your work hours, spend time with people you care about, have a hobby (or three), pet your precious pugs.
- Exercise every day.
Ben was employee #2 at Baremetrics and today he heads up the engineering team. He can often be found sipping a gin martini at the end of a busy week (possibly during the week also, we’re not 100% sure).
Ben is an advocate for changing up your location and/or position about once an hour–from the den, to the kitchen, to a stand up desk, for example. Each move doubles as a 20 minute mental break which keeps him sharp and focused while writing approximately one bajillion lines of code every day.
Lately, he’s taken to working alongside other engineers in a video chat. “Even if you’re sitting there coding,” Ben explains, “having other folks working alongside you is helpful for staying focused. Plus it makes it easier to ask or answer questions as they come up.”
- Get up and move frequently. Change positions and/or locations throughout the day and take frequent mental breaks, about every 20 minutes or so.
- Only check email twice a day.
- Spend time in video chat with teammates. Even if you’re working on separate tasks, the video chat will allow questions to easily be asked and answered.
Fried makes up our growing European contingent at Baremetrics. He’s a bit of a fitness nut, so he breaks up his days with cycling and the gym.
His absolute favorite way to work is while traveling. “I’ve worked remotely from a dozen or so countries… it comes with its challenges (ie. reliable internet) but when you’re lying on a beach somewhere working on your laptop, you can’t help but love remote working.”
Sounds pretty swell to us.
- Be healthy! Exercise 3-4 times a week and don’t scrimp on good, healthy food.
- Manage notifications. Turn email notifications off during work hours and turn messaging (Slack) notifications off during non-work hours.
- Take advantage of the remote lifestyle: Travel!
Our frontend wizard Tyler makes a point of having non-work related hobbies. Specifically, he suggests analog hobbies—things you do with your hands like gardening, sports, cooking–are a great contrast to a tappity-tappity day job.
He’s also a big proponent of not pinching pennies when it comes to setting up an office. “Get a nice computer, nice chair, headphones, whatever,” Tyler told me. “Don’t be cheap with things you use all the time.”
- Invest in your equipment. The things you use the most, spend the most on.
- Check your notifications only after a break.
- Have hobbies not related to work, and spend time with friends who don’t work in your industry. Basically, expand your horizons and make sure you’re not just living in your computer.
Our most organized team member Renee makes lists. Lots of lists. She creates daily, weekly, and monthly to do lists and checks off items as she goes through them. The rest of the team has already taken note (pun intended).
She also has two separate accounts on her computer: one for work and one for personal. “Having two accounts means I'm less likely to pop into Pinterest while working.” Substitute ‘Pinterest’ for your internet-vice of choice and you having a winning productivity tip.
- Write it down. Find a list-making method that works for you and use it. It can be old school pen and paper or an online task management system. Either way: write, do, check.
- Keep work stuff separate from personal. Have separate lists, separate logins/profiles, and so on.
- Take advantage of things that help you be productive that you might not be able to enjoy in a traditional office. Make the coffee just the way you like it, choose your soundtrack, eat a healthy lunch.
How about you?
There are approximately 8,772 different ways to stay productive as a remote worker, and we’ve only touched on a few of them. So reader–what about you? Share your tips for being productive and happy in the comments.