If you’ve come across this blog, chances are you are looking for ways to improve your productivity with remote working. I’m not going to give you generic remote work tips like wake up at a certain time or something similar.
I want you to maximize a few dedicated hours to remote work, so you can enjoy the rest of your day without needing to check your computer.
I’ve been a remote worker for nearly 3 years, so this is a lifestyle for me. I’m going to give you the 10 best remote work tips that worked for me and enable me to work 5-6 hours on most days. Let’s dive in to the best remote work tips:
1. Set expectations
The number one tip you need to right now is to set expectations with your manager or employer. It can be very easy to assume that since you work remotely, you are available 24/7.
You are not.
Whether you started working remotely recently or not, you should ask your manager a simple question: What do you expect from me?
By asking this, you allow your manager to set expectations that you can stick to. This prevents the weird passive aggressive environment at work.
Once the manager tells you your expectations, set a weekly goal of what you’re supposed to do and stick with it. This will help you in the future in case something goes wrong.
With expectations, you can create a work schedule that works for you. This will prevent you from getting “surprise” or “urgent” extra work from your manager.
Make expectations crystal clear or the other tips are honestly a waste of time. Managers often track employee hours and set expectations early on. Communicate with your manager on what are the exact expectations and this will make your remote work much easier.
2. Over, over, over communicate
During the times where you are working (yes, you need to set your hours), you need to be able to communicate effectively with your team.
Over the few years I’ve worked remotely, there’s nothing that causes more stress than no communication. I know it’s hard to reply to emails quickly when you work remotely, but it’s necessary to avoid drama and stress.
If your team sends you an email during your work hours, try to get back to them at least in 30 min to 1 hour. Even if it’s short replies from your phone, that’s much better than leaving them wondering for hours.
It’s better if your company has a tool like Slack or if you text, that will make it much easier to communicate and get tasks done.
The worst experiences I’ve had in working remotely have all stemmed from lack of communication. This stress is multiplied when there’s an urgent project due.
3. Invest in your workspace
Your workspace when you’re doing remote work is where you will spend the majority of your day. Improving your immediate surroundings can improve your productivity exponentially.
I remember when I first started working remotely I was excited to work from bed. After a few weeks of doing this, I started to hate my bed because I would end up spending at least 14 hours per day there between work and sleep.
Spending just a few hundred dollars on your workspace can improve your productivity and mood significantly.
Simple things like having good lighting, a clean desk and water nearby can make remote work blissful. This helps turn your workspace into a sanctuary instead of some place you hate.
4. Set your hours around your optimal working periods
Some people are night owls and others are early birds. With remote work, the best working time is your best working time.
There are only two important rules you must follow:
- Focus during your work hours
- Be reachable during office hours
If you can do this, you can work basically anytime in the day or night.
I would recommend working in the mornings because some employers will have mandatory zoom calls during work hours. If you’ve spent the night working, it can be very easy to miss a meeting and emails.
Once you have set your hours, you must stick to them. Don’t do any work except in your work hours.
This will allow you to actually live life and do other things you need to do around the house like cleaning, laundry, etc.
This is the work schedule that has worked for me:
- 45 mins focused work, 15 mins break
- 6 sessions of these each day, 5-6 days per week
I can finish the vast majority of all work easily in 6 hours because I’m focused. If you’re browsing your phone, those 6 hours will quickly turn into 8 hours.
A trick that you can use is to incentivize yourself. For example, if you finish your work in 6 hours, you can take a 2-hour nap or go watch a movie.
This will help you stay motivated to complete each workday.
5. Get the best tech you can for work and meetings
One of the most underrated remote work tips is to get the best tech possible. This sounds very generic and you probably hear it all the time, but it’s true.
If you won’t take it from me, you will quickly see how much you need it when you have your first remote work meeting.
I still remember trying to hold up my laptop to my ear because I didn’t have headphones and the person I was meeting with was very soft-spoken.
Some of the tech you should keep in mind for remote work includes:
- Laptop: make sure your laptop has a good microphone/sound system along with good storage
- Headphones: honestly, any headphones will work, just make sure you have a good pair with a microphone
- VPN/remote access: make sure you have secure and remote access with your company; without this, you are at a huge cybersecurity risk.
- WiFi: make sure you have a strong WiFi connection, any disruption to this will cause you stress for the whole day
Ergonomics is basically how you sit and work on your computer. This includes your posture, your hand placement on your keyboards, etc.
When working remotely, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of slouching or developing bad ergonomic habits.
I’ve actually developed mild carpal tunnel syndrome due to typing fast and having poor hand placement on my keyboard. Since my job is to write for most of the day, any bad habits I have will eventually catch up to me.
I’ve remedied it so far by taking breaks and weightlifting. This has helped me tremendously and I haven’t had any pain in my hands in close to a year.
There’s nothing worse than starting to get chronic pain from work-related activities. Start to build good ergonomic habits by fixing your posture and taking frequent short breaks while working.
If you want to go further with ergonomics, you can invest some money into good writing desks, chairs, keyboards and more. These small changes to your work environment can turn your work area into an enjoyable experience for you.
7. Work out
This seems very counterintuitive because people make it seem like working out takes time out of their day. Working out is one of the top 3 remote work tips. Let me explain why.
When I first started to work remotely, I was living the dream. I was home all the time and I can eat and sleep whenever I felt like it.
This became problematic very quickly as I started to gain weight rapidly. Over the course of a year, I gained between 30-40 pounds. I became a victim of my own environment because I had food in front of me basically 24/7.
After I’d get done with work, I felt tired to work out and kept repeating the process over the course of a year. This led to a huge decrease in energy and my overall mood.
It’s very crucial to work out either before work or immediately after work. Make it apart of your workday. I don’t have time to name all of the benefits of working out, but it’s almost as important as sleep.
Now, I have a schedule where I work out for 1.5-2hrs after work. I actually look forward to it because it’s a habit I’ve built and it helps me turn my laptop off and raise my heart rate. Since I started, I’ve lost 30 pounds and gained some muscle mass. I can’t describe the difference in quality of life and overall energy.
Please don’t neglect your health for work. Nothing is as important as your health, I don’t think you need me to teach you that.
8. Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is a practice that helps you focus on one task over a short period of time. This is how the Pomodoro technique works:
- 25 minutes of focused work
- 5 minute break
The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique that helps you break your work down into actionable bits. It’s basically a way to help you focus on one specific task and ignore everything else. You’ll be surprised how much work you can get done using this technique.
If you can 10 of these each day, you will get a ton of work done. 10 Pomodoro techniques is only 5 hours. I can guarantee you 5 hours of focused work will help you finish 8 hours worth of distracted work.
In just one Pomodoro session, you can catch up on all your emails for the day. You can use the other 9 to do your actual important work for the day. In my case, this is how it’d look:
- One session catching up on emails (replying, following up, etc.)
- 6-8 sessions to do my client work for the day
- 2-4 sessions to write my blog post for the day
That’s it. Once you’re done, you can actually be done with work for the day. If anything comes up, you can add it to your sessions for the next day.
9. Change up your environment
Remote work allows you work from anywhere, so why not use that to your advantage?
Changing your scenery can provide you with energy, boosted morale and more. You don’t have to wake up everyday and work in your bed clothes until 5 PM.
In a week you can:
- work from your home
- work from a library
- work from a coffee shop
- work in a college near you
You don’t need to go to the extreme and go to all those every day, but changing your scenery is crucial for productivity.
A great benefit to this is that it forces you to get out of the house and wear business casual clothes. The clothing you wear alone can change your mentality and mood towards work.
Give this a try, the worst thing that can happen is you at least get out of the house.
10. Explore other freelance opportunities
Remote work opens up a ton of opportunities, but many remote workers seem to stop with professional development.
One thing I’ve learned while working remotely is that you always need to have a back up plan. With remote work, it can be difficult to keep your role and employers seem to let go of remote workers a lot easier.
Whatever your remote position is, there are other companies that are hiring for similar positions. Spending 30 minutes each day to reach out to prospects to get freelance work can literally change your life.
This is something that’s more of a long-term goal. If you start doing side projects, you will have the opportunity to network and get promotions for your remote job.
Start small, send a few emails each day and you can likely land a freelance gig in a few months.
The recommendations above are just recommendations. They are what worked for me and what has allowed me to flourish as a remote worker. It’s important to try to implement these one at a time and over a period of time.
Do what works best for you and start with one specific habit and stick to it. Once you’ve mastered that, move on to the next one. In 6 month’s time, your work environment will be exponentially better than what it is today.