5 tips for the most productive remote work schedule

Mark Trego
Mär 31, 2020

Having your own schedule and being able to set up your office in coffee shops and trendy co-working spaces is the millennial dream. Thanks to enterprise communication and online collaboration tools, remote work is becoming a reality for many employees. It will continue to be the choice of employees and companies as time and cost savings and overall productivity increase with remote working. In fact, a recent survey found that one third of companies believe their workforce will be remote 50% of the time.

That’s a lot of employees roaming around coffee shops on their own time.

It sounds like a dream, however, many of us are so used to being told where to be, at what time, and specifics on what we’re doing that managing our own time and getting what we’re supposed to done on our own is a brand new learning curve.

Welcome to the future of work. Here are some of our best tips to keep you on schedule at whatever new trendy work spot you may be posted at and successful as a “digital nomad”.

1. Take care of it right now. Do not add to your “To-do list”

Without a supervisor to keep accountability during remote work, it’s almost too easy to say “I’ll get to this later” and add something to your list of things you’ll get done “when you get the chance”. Now, often these tasks aren’t urgent, but they can add up. Missing little details in projects, forgetting to communicate with everyone you need to as a remote worker, and leaving anything for the last minute is guaranteed to end up causing big problems down the line. So, set a rule for yourself: if it takes five or ten minutes or less, you do it right away.

2. Schedule your work so you can focus on one thing at a time

In comparison to having a predictable schedule and routine with a lot of foresight of how your time is to be spent on specific tasks, remote work is much more fluid and can be overwhelming. It’s easy to look at your list of tasks or calendar of deadlines and get anxious with remote work. We have an overwhelming need to try to multitask and get everything done simultaneously to feel as productive as possible. Trying to multitask can result in a 40% decrease in your productivity.

Stay away from the “list” mentality and schedule strict times to focus on individual projects. Keep your desktop clear of anything not related to that task during that time. A good method to break up your time is to fill time in between the blocks you dedicate to big tasks with the little 5–10 minute tasks like replying to a few emails or something personal like the laundry. Your day will feel more dynamic, productive, and focused.

3. Compartmentalize your jobs by physically changing location

If breaking up the time like mentioned above still isn’t helping keep focused, changing locations can do wonders for refocusing your mind on a new task. It’s also one of the huge perks of being remote — you’re able to set up your desk just about anywhere. A good example of this technique is dedicating two hours to working at your desk on something analytical like spreadsheets or sales reports. Then change to a coffee shop in the afternoon for more creative work like developing new content for a presentation.

4. Build playlists for different jobs (if you listen to music while you work)

One more quick tip for helping you compartmentalize your different tasks! What’s playing and the noise around you can have a strong influence on your mood and mental place for a task. Relaxing, simple, and minimal sounds are ideal for most people working on analytical tasks. Minimizing distracting sounds is best — don’t sit and people watch at the coffee shop.

However, for brainstorming work, sometimes it’s best to have more upbeat music and a lot of visual stimulation. Optimizing your environment for what type of work you’re doing makes a massive difference in your productivity.

5. Time Management — Know When To Clock Out

One of the challenges of remote work is thinking you have time to complete your tasks. There is no real “end of the day” but if you’re not careful, you will end up being in constant work mode. There will always be something else to do. In order to manage your time and set a work life balance, you’ll need to set time limits for yourself.

It’s easy to take a break and prolong a task when there’s no “5pm” nearing. If you decide a task is “due” at 3pm, you’ll be motivated to sit down and get it done. A little pressure, even with creative work, for many of us helps us quite a bit. Without a deadline, you’ll finish tasks late and your flexible schedule will seem more exhausting rather than a luxury.

Remote work is quickly becoming a norm for many employees, but getting it right is important to maintaining quality work. Optimizing your environment for remote work is a must as a digital nomad. It’s a fun schedule to be on. Especially when you find what works out best for you and you’re at your most successful. We hope these tips help!

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