4 Daily Practices For Productive Remote Work
And why I never want to go back to the office 9 to 5.
Remote work is here to stay. It doesn’t take long to find headlines about the benefits of remote work or how top tech companies are leading the way.
Spotify, Google and Microsoft are a few of many companies that now offer fully remote or hybrid options for their employees. Spotify even went a step further and made their silicon-valley level tech salary a standard regardless of employee location.
As a software engineer myself, I’ve found remote work to be an incredibly productive, flexible and freeing means of progressing my career. However, the additional freedom demands additional discipline to both balance and focus your newfound time.
In this article, I’m going to cover my top 4 daily practices that help me not just be productive, but make remote work worth it.
Disclaimer: I have an affiliate link listed in this article. The link is through Huel which offers a healthy ready-to-go meal alternative.
1. Craft Your Dream Morning Routine
Anyone who has worked remotely long enough knows how easy it is to just hit the snooze button until you need to roll five feet from your bed to your computer. While it’s nice to take advantage of the lack of commute, this is a really poor way to start your day.
I will say that there are a few things you should always do to start your day that are scientifically proven to boost your mood, give you energy and allow you to focus your mind. A minimal list includes:
- Eating a balanced breakfast that’s high in protein and healthy fats (avocado omelettes anyone?)
- Drinking at least one glass of water.
- Taking care of your hygiene.
- Making your bed and cleaning your room.
Personally, I like to get 7–8 hours of sleep with my alarm set around 6 or 7 am. If I really want a start to my day, I’ll wake up with my girlfriend at 5:30. She works 12 hour shifts as a nurse and makes my job look like a walk in the park.
And yet, the exact time that you wake up doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you give yourself enough time in the morning to prep your mind for the day. Maybe you do Yoga, maybe you read, or meditate, go for a run, you name it. You have the full freedom to make your morning exactly as you want, the only thing stopping you is hitting that snooze button.
Or, you could always be like this guy:
Jocko Willink’s 4:30 am Ritual
2. Get Off The Screen
You don’t have to look long to find surveys detailing how many people are actually working more at home than they were at the office. Additional meetings can sometimes be a factor, but what really causes people to work more is a lack of boundaries around their work.
Back when office life was a thing, people would generally accomplish 4–5 hours of actual work. Meetings, lunch, talking with coworkers and general distractions around the office made it nearly impossible to get a true 8 hours of work into your day.
Those 4–5 hours of real productive work are what you should shoot for in your remote job too. If you need more than that, you’re either legitimately working really hard — or you’re being inefficient with your time. Know where you’re at.
My days start off with a routine “stand up” meeting at 9:30 am. After stand up I can be ready to get around 2 hours of productive work where I’m researching, coding, or pair programming with teammates.
When I finish that block of focused time, I get my ass off the computer and make something to eat. I really like to get the most out of my day,
so I’ll often make a Huel based smoothie that’s got protein, fiber, vitamins — all that good stuff. It cuts my time preparing and eating lunch from about 40 minutes down to maybe 10 minutes, and it tastes pretty good for not having any sugar. Plus at ~$1.50 per meal, it’s a great way to save money.
I strongly recommend it, so here’s a referral if you want $15 off. I’ve even gotten my dentist hooked on it, so you know it’s good.
Once I’ve downed my smoothie, I really enjoy using my extra time to go for a long walk on some nearby trails. I’ll usually go for 45minutes to an hour while listening to an audiobook or Joe Rogan’s podcast. I’ve found that walking while listening causes me to retain ideas much more vividly, try it yourself!
Once I get back I’ll shoot for another 2–3 hours of productive work. At the end of my day, I also like to read books and get some harder exercise in such as weight lifting or going for a run. Regardless of what you’re doing, make sure you maintain your mental sanity and get off the screen every few hours.
3. Take Advantage of The Extra Time
With a lack of commute and minimal distractions, you should be finding your day filled with at least a few extra hours of time. Whatever you do with it, don’t waste your newfound freedom. Many people including myself have taken to starting up new side hustles or projects to compliment their primary salary. I’ve been writing on Medium for about 9 months now — not only have I made a reasonable source of side income, I’ve learned more skills for my career and improved my communication skills. Those are some huge wins considering I spend 1–2 hours on my blog each day.
Maybe you want to spend extra time with your family, or you want to get in shape, or maybe even start your own side business. Remote work has given us the freedom to choose. A dream of mine is to start traveling the world while I work. The cost of living is less expensive than here in the US, plus you can actually learn the language and culture if you stay for longer than a standard vacation.
The first step in taking advantage of your time is to create a schedule. Some people think a schedule robs you of your freedom, but it’s the exact opposite — a schedule frees your time to do what you want.
A schedule doesn’t mean enforcing strict time boxes and boring tasks, a schedule is your dream day written down. If you could live any reasonable form of the week where you thought you found a balance in learning, doing what you love, and moving forward with your life, what would it be? A schedule will give you that answer.
Whatever you do, take this extra time to live life the way you want. If you’re not happy with your current job or role, invest your time in learning for a career change.
Find some new hikes. Spend time with yourself, or others. The possibilites are truly limitless as anyone with a computer and access to the internet now has the power to live their life the way they want. So find out what you really want, and get after it.
4. Don’t Forget The Little Things
If you’re going to be working at home all day, you should take the effort to make the space what you want it to be. A little mindfulness can go a long ways. I bought myself an adjustable desk so that I can stand up when I am in meetings or presenting a new product demo.
It’s a small but noticeable change from slouching in my chair during a stand up meeting. A few items I strongly recommend for your own remote work space include:
- An adjustable desk.
- A high quality, posture supporting chair.
- A computer with at least 32 GB of RAM.
- Quality speakers and/or headphones.
- A nice monitor with eye care in mind (I’m a fan of this one)
- Random crap that makes you happy — for me it’s a Yoda lamp I got as a gift and a few house plants (oh, and a space heater because my basement get’s freezing in the winter time).
I also really like playing music when I’m working, and with no neighbors I can play a LoFi channel without need of headphones. I’ve also got plants on the window next to my desk, because I interact with silicon enough throughout the day.
I’m sure you’ve picked up on my theme, so I’ll end things here. The standard office life is wasteful — remote work gives you freedom, don’t let it go to waste.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and got some tips for making remote work worth the opportunity. If you liked any of these tips, or have any tips of your own, I encourage you to please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!
Originally published here.
I like to write about science, math, technology and how to be a more productive professional.