Remote Management

Great Productivity Hacks For Working Remotely

Written by

CJ Cowan

Working from home has many advantages. We can translate hours a week commuting into hours actually working. It also has some disadvantages.

There is a lot less commuting but a lot more distractions. There are probably a dozen things within arm’s reach that could sabotage your workflow.

This is why we want to share our favorite, science-backed productive life hacks. Do you want to know how to increase productivity when working from home?  

WFHomie is a remote-first company, and we work every day with remote teams to improve employee engagement, so we know what works and what doesn’t.

We don’t believe in pushing against the grain. We believe that being proactive in nipping procrastination and time-wasters in the bud is the best approach.  We will outline how to be more productive in a world of distractions and how to snap out of procrastination.

At WFHomie, our goal is to make work suck less, so we created this list to boost your mental health and productivity when working in distributed teams.

Key takeaways:

Managing your time before and after working is key to successfully meeting your goals while getting down to business.

Work smarter, not harder. Be proactive in avoiding time-wasters and distractions. Think critically and novelly about how and when you work.

Hacking your brain to boost productivity can prevent unnecessary stress and distractions from sapping your mental energy and derailing your workflow.

The space in which you work is also essential. Working in a room that invites and encourages you to be at your best is vital.

Tips to Improve concentration and focus.

1.The Problem With Multitasking

Juggling more than one task at a time may seem savvy, but it is a losing game. You’re not multiplying your time, but you’re subtracting it. Multitasking, especially if it’s the general model of your workflow, can take a brutal toll on your productivity.

According to the American Psychological Association, human executive control processes have two distinct stages. One is Goal Shifting, stopping a task and starting another. The other is Rule Activation, turning off one set of rules and starting another. Both of these stages enable people, unconsciously, to switch between tasks.

This switching takes time and mental energy. These switching costs can be as small as a few seconds, but they can aggregate quickly if constantly bouncing between tasks.

Multitasking intuitively seems like the best way to get more things done in a shorter amount of time. Yet, science tells us that the work may take more time and be less quality. Mental blocks created from floating among different can take up 40% of your productive time.

2. Stick to a schedule

This is the quintessential time management method. It is tempting when you don’t have to commute in the mornings to sleep in and wake up when you want to.it is vital to have set sleep schedules and patterns of daily life to ensure a productive, working life.  

Scheduling will prevent a lot of stress and anxiety from sapping your reserves. You will thank yourself for allowing your mental energy to do things rather than worrying about what to do.

Procrastination is the thief of time, and bad scheduling is like an unlocked door.

3. Eat breakfast!

Your parents were right about many things, and they were right about this one too.

Eating a well-rounded breakfast full of healthy proteins and fats is vital for a thinking, creating brain. Don’t skip breakfast. Avoid sugary cereals. You’re not six anymore.

When remote working, saying “I can eat whenever” is a losing game. If you are poking around the kitchen when you should be working, you waste time.

And time is not a renewable resource.

4. Use the Pomodoro Technique

Studies have shown that workers who intersperse numerous short breaks into their workday rather than pushing through hours of work with minimal breaks were more productive.

It is better to procrastinate on purpose than by accident.

This study illustrated the finding that the human brain is suited to roughly an hour of continuous high activity and deep concentration, and after an hour, they’re diminishing returns in productivity.

You have probably heard of the Pomodoro Technique. Influencers love it. Thought leaders swear by it.

But how does the Pomodoro Technique work?

Francesco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro Technique to overcome distractions and procrastination as a student.

He found a tomato-shaped timer, Pomodoro is Italian for Tomato, and told himself to work until the timer rang.

The original Pomodoro technique involved setting a timer for 25 minutes to focus on a single task until the timer goes off, then you take a five-minute break. One session is one Pomodoro. After four Pomodoros, you should longer, unplugged vacation before starting work again. Proponents tout these small breaks as improving concentration and helping them to stay focused.

What are the benefits of the Pomodoro Technique?

Increasing Time Consciousness

It will make you better aware of time. It will prove how much you can accomplish when you are distraction-free and committed. It will expose the limits of your ability and your productivity. Due to the Planning Fallacy, we underestimate the time to accomplish tasks despite previous failures. If you hold yourself accountable for these work sprints, this will be harder to do.

Avoiding Distractions

 Rewarding yourself with small breaks will accomplish more work with less willpower. Knuckling through long stretches of work takes mental energy away from the task at hand. You can work against yourself, or you can work with yourself.

Little Goals; Massive Growth

Setting these tiny challenges for yourself and meeting those challenges will imbue you with a sense of accomplishment. This feeling of accomplishment will inspire you to set more goals and grander goals. Over time this will aggregate to a happier, more successful life.

5. Add A Splash Of Colour

Colour psychology is an excellent set of tools used by interior designers to boost productivity in the office. These techniques can hack your mood and mindset in your home office.

Different colours have varying effects on your behaviour and mood.

Blue is often used to office space because it boosts productivity, efficiency, and focus. Blue would be an excellent colour for a backsplash in a home office.

Yellow is the colour for artists and innovators. Yellow aids creativity and energy, but it can also flame feelings of frustration. Yellow would be the perfect colour for an accent, decoration, or paperweight.

6. Journaling

Writing down what went wrong and what went right is a fantastic way to improve your performance without onsite feedback from managers and colleagues. It is also a healthy way to externalize stressors and process them.

Sounds easy? If it’s done right, it's tough. Journaling is about keeping yourself accountable.

Rigorously and mercilessly assessing whether you’re surfing towards your goals or treading water. It’s very confronting to have a written log of all your wins and losses.

Write a list of things you want to accomplish daily or weekly, then reflect on how well you move towards those accomplishments.

Self-discipline shouldn’t be cruel, nor should it be too kind.

7. Have houseplants in your home office

Not only do they brighten up a room, but they also brighten you up.

Research shows that indoor plants have many therapeutic and physiological benefits, such as relieving stress and anxiety. Plants boost creativity and productivity in the workplace. That’s on top of improving air quality.  

In 2016, Researchers found that Amazon employees in India and the United States had more job satisfaction and stronger ties to the organization if they worked in an office with natural elements.

And they’re pretty!

8. Avoid Email Pitfalls

Refreshing your email and staring at quiet slack channels is not a productive use of anyone’s time. Yet, it is crucial when working remotely to respond quickly to messages.

Email Surfing is a guilt-free form of procrastination that we’re all guilty of that we should shake off.

There is a balance to be had between poking around empty inboxes constantly and ghosting your colleagues and clients. Set regular intervals to check on and respond thoughtfully to outstanding messages throughout your day.

If you’re expected to respond promptly, then once an hour is best. If you work mainly on your own, then twice daily might be better to use your time.

9. Write Down Your Three Most Important Tasks (MITs)

Start each morning by writing down your Most Important Tasks (MITS). Not in a few words, but in complete sentences describing what you want to achieve and why.

Be precise. Don’t write things like  “research competitors”. This is vague and can allow you to do a quick google search, write down some brands, and check it off your list. Instead, write “Research three competitors and list their founders, outline their value proposal, and any notable product offerings”.

This is harder and more time-intensive, but you will feel a much better feeling of accomplishment than you would be deluding yourself.

Think critically about the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’. Urgent and important are not always synonymous. Remember, 'urgent' is often someone else's priority, but 'important' is YOUR own. Act accordingly.

10. Use Anti-Distraction Tools and Website Blockers

Working from home means we can work at our own pace, in our own way. We can listen to music or podcasts while we code, write, or brainstorm for our company’s benefit. Distributed and remote workers have proven that this trust and freedom pays dividends for employees and employers.

BUT, there can be too much of a good thing. Searching for a fire playlist on Spotify can quickly turn into a texting bout or a mini Tik-Tok binge.

To avoid this when deadlines are tight, use anti-distraction tools like website blockers. You can block productivity pits like YouTube and Twitter for custom time periods when you want to dig deep into a project.

What about my phone? Borrow from the Office Karen’s Playbook by letting it charge in a different room, putting it on airplane mode, or shut it off entirely.

11. Task Batching

Schedule similar tasks into batches to be completed in the same time period. Use this hack to avoid the context switching costs inherent in multitasking. The mental effort of jumping between very different tasks, like writing code and responding to email, can sap your productivity and detract from the quality of your work.

Wide-ranging tasks require a wide array of tools and resources. Popping around different windows, tabs, and software is mentally taxing.

A real-world example would be responding to emails and messages and writing marketing content. These tasks all involve communicating in complete sentences to inform or convince, so it is easier to transition between these tasks mentally.

It would be harder and less beneficial to group communicative tasks with quantitative ones like accounting, as the gap between these kinds of tasks is much larger.

Human beings are imperfect, but we can hack our imperfections to our benefit! You got this!  

12. Find Your Chronotype

Finding your chronotype can help you better understand the optimal pattern of your life and work. A chronotype is an individual’s circadian rhythm - an internal clock built into their biology. It influences when a person sleeps and when a person's level of concentration and productivity are at their finest.

Have you heard the term night owl and early bird? There is a science to explain that every person has peak productivity times. Synchronize your work and sleep to bring out the best in you.

These are four common chronotypes:

Bear

Typical sleep cycle. You wake with the sun and sleep at night. You’re most productive in the morning, and experience a dip in the late afternoon.

Wolf

Not a morning person. Midday risers. Most productive in the afternoon. They find a second wind in the evening. They can get a lot done at night whenever one else has called it a day.  

Lion

Rise and grind! Lions love to get up early before dawn and are on top of things until Noon. They have quiet evenings and hit the hay well before midnight.  

Dolphin

If you have trouble falling asleep or maintaining a sleep schedule, you may be a Dolphin. They’re productive midday, 10 am to 2 pm.

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