Disclaimer: No, this article won’t make you magically productive and it will not have some mind-blowing never-heard-that-before revelation. You’ve been warned.
I believe the biggest irony about this article is that it took me too long to write it, how can I write about productivity when I can’t make myself to write it in the first place, so yes, I’m a hypocrite, the top-notch one. But finally, the day has come and I finally made myself to sit and write it (not like the lady in the above picture, I found that to be extremely uncomfortable and unproductive, the more you know).
First of all, many people would say that they could never work at a home because of a lack of motivation and productivity because they are always so productive in big corporate offices. You know you’re not, I’ve been there.
On a serious note, I started working at Toggl Plan sometime last year and it was my first experience with working remotely. I wrote some articles here and there and always missed the deadline so I wouldn’t classify that as remote work. To say I wasn’t scared would be a big understatement. I was scared if I would miss deadlines if I could be productive if I’m not working in an office with a bunch of people running around, screaming and all the usual scenarios. Here, I had to depend only on myself and that is hard, let me tell you. So naturally, I asked dear Google with tips how to work remotely and be productive at the same time and I failed to listen to all those tips, because that’s who I am as a person.
In all honesty, I tried out several tips and tricks until I found what works for me the best. I still do fail to be productive at all times, I’m still a human though but these things work for me (most of the times, at least).
Work at a desk
When I started working for Toggl Plan, I was still living with my parents and I had a really small room without any desk whatsoever. All the tips on the internet said you have to pick one spot (a desk) to work so you would teach your mindset to treat it as an office. So I had to improvise, I took a bar stool and put it in front of the shelf (honestly, you can’t make this up). Naturally, my back was killing me so I sat on the bed and that is the first strike, a big no-no. First, you’ll get sleepy at some point and second, you’ll be that much more inclined to procrastinate.
Then I moved to the kitchen/living room and tried to work from there with my parents around. It was better but still had trouble to concentrate. So in the end, I moved out and dedicated a desk where I only work and nothing more and it works. Somehow, I taught myself never to sit at that desk if I’m not working and if I absolutely have to, then I choose another chair for it, it’s amazing.
Sometimes, my focus will abandon me, without a doubt. I usually spot this when I’m spending lots of times on Youtube watching dance videos or just listening to some music with my mind at some other place. As soon as I notice this, I change my location, either be some café or even a library (whatever works, as long as it’s different). Co-working places are also great because you can work with other remote workers and not feel alone, it does wonders for your motivation and productivity.
Change of the scenery helps because it puts you in a different mindset. I also love traveling while working, it tests my concentration to be in completely different environment, culture, etc.
When I have a lot of meetings, hence I’m not able to change locations and I find myself scrolling (and judging) on Facebook feed, I turn on SelfControl. It works with any other app which will block certain sites for a limited amount of time. The only way to stop it from blocking is to change the clock on your laptop and honestly, I’m way too lazy to do that so I let it do its work. Habits are a nasty thing cause even if I turn it on, I’d automatically go on Facebook and only then, I remember that it’s blocked so it actually does work for me.
One more thing, I’ve turned off all push notifications so it wouldn’t distract me but I did that in generally, not only when I’m working. No, this is not because I’m this incredibly cool person but because I’d like to think I can do without checking social media any minute in the day (I can’t).
Plan and track your time
I never planned anything, ever. Sure, I would make myself a to-do list in too much detail and always failed to go through with it. Then I learned that I can put in some most basic stuff which I want to get done with during the week and not day. I don’t why but I found that I would be more inclined to get done with things if I give myself more time to do them and not cram it all up in one day.
I also started tracking my time with Toggl and it took me a while to bring myself to do it and then I found out how much time I’m actually waiting, no joke.
The point is that no one can teach you how to be productive, whether it’s in the office or at home, you have to do that for yourself and see what best works for you. There will be days when you will get to work on dozens of things in a day and there will be days when you will get none done. This goes for all work conditions and it’s not only related to remote workers. I honestly love that I get to work from home or from any other place in the world, I love that my working hours are flexible and then I’m solely responsible for my time and what I do with it.