Did you know that the team behind Paid Memberships Pro is completely distributed? Yup, we are fully remote and are scattered around the World in 2 different continents, 8 cities, and 3 timezones!
Being part of a remote environment can be extremely rewarding, freeing and invigorating but it also can present some challenges – no workplace is perfect after all! In this article, I’ll share some tips on how you can be more productive working in a remote environment.
1. Set A Routine
One of the major benefits of working in a distributed team is the fact that you can set your own schedule. Are you an early bird, or perhaps a night owl? No matter your poultry of choice, you can take charge of when and how you want to set your schedule – just be sure to set one. Routines are vital for the success of any remote worker. Without it, you may find yourself working erratic hours, waking up too late, or struggling to find a sustainable work/life balance. If you are living with others or have a family to consider a routine becomes that much more important.
I prefer to have a more rigid, “9 to 5” type of schedule. This, of course, does not mean that I never benefit from the flexibility of having a remote job, but I find it helps me stay accountable to my fellow team members, managers and myself.
My ideal daily schedule looks something like*:
- 6:30 am to7:00 am – Wake up
- 7:45 am – Get ready for work and grab a cup of coffee, this gives me some time to check in on some of my personal emails and social media accounts.
- 8:00 am to 9:30 am – First work session begins. After roughly an hour and a half of work, I grab some breakfast.
- 10:00 am to 1:00 pm – After breakfast, I get started with the second work session of the day.
- 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm – Lunch Break. I take an hour for lunch just like I would do at a conventional job.
- 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm – After lunch, I get cracking on the final work session of the day.
- 4:30 pm to 10:00 pm – Time to call it a day. I try to reserve this time for myself and family, it is important to recharge your batteries so that you show up best for your job the next day.
In my opinion, it is important to treat working from home as you would at a ‘normal’ office. It’s easy to get distracted when no one actively monitors you so get up, get dressed and to put some hours into your work day!
* Sometimes I do run late, I am human after all (even with the allegations of being a robot).
2. Define Goals
Goals can help you reach targets, keep you motivated and it helps you track your progress. I am on the “Southern Hemisphere Development” team and each individual sets weekly goals that we hope to achieve at the beginning of each week. At the end of the week, we have a brief meeting to review how we did and gauge how close we made it to our goals for that week. I also find it particularly valuable to set goals for my personal life too – a good example of this would be to learn another language or skill. There is nothing quite like the feeling of defining a goal, setting some achievable milestones that you can reach along the way and then satisfyingly scratching it off your list – onwards we go!
If you have a membership site of your own, you can add a number of valuable goals to your arsenal to help grow your business and track your progress. Some examples of these could be, Revenue targets, member acquisition, social media following, and email list subscribers.
Bonus Tip: How to better reach your goals.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
As people, we love to dream up big, outlandish and awe-inspiring goals. While this is an admirable quality of ours, it is often our downfall too. Sometimes, when we are faced with a colossal goal, it is quite common to feel bewildered and overwhelmed, leading us to stall dead in our tracks, never to start on our journey to success. To prevent this, try to break up your final goal into daily, weekly and monthly tasks that add up to your final goal.
Now, here is the important part. Be sure to stick to these tasks – this will require discipline and often grit to make it through the rough seas of demotivation – fear not, with the right attitude and perseverance you should soon see light at the end of the tunnel so hang in there!
3. Stretch Your Legs
It’s quite easy to sit down and get lost in your work for hours on end, especially when you are working on a project you care deeply about or are just about to squash the final bug of your Pull Request. As a developer myself, I often find myself glued to my screen, only to realize that hours have gone by and I haven’t moved from my seat. This is not very good for your body and over time can really take its toll on you!
Remember to regularly get up out of your seat, go for a walk, drink some fluids (water, juice or another coffee refill), and maybe go outside for a quick walk while breathing in some fresh air. This is not only good for your body but you as a whole. Having regular breaks helps to regain your concentration and revitalize your mental capacity. It allows your brain to take a moment to process all the information you’ve been feeding it and can quite often subconsciously work on problems you are trying to solve – while enjoying the great outdoors. I’ve often figured out something that was blocking me after taking a short break.
You could also try to use something like a Standing Desk to allow you to get more time on your feet without sacrificing screentime or make a habit to take short breaks in between work sessions with something like the Pomodoro Technique.
4. Music To My Ears
Working from home can be quite disruptive, you may plan to get some focused work done only to be bombarded with interruptions and distractions. When you need to get some real, focused work done. Try using music to block out disruptions. I regularly put in headphones with music so I can’t hear what’s happening around me. This won’t stop all distractions, but most external distractions. Music can also make you feel lighter or give you a sense of being in the company of others – which is nice if you are working alone the whole day.
Bonus Tip: I find relaxing, instrumental and songs with very little vocals the best for work sessions where I need to focus. When tackling tasks that are more cognitively demanding such as writing, coding or problem-solving. Try putting on a playlist that keeps singing or anything really intensive to a minimum. Some of my recommendations include: Chillstep, Lo-Fi, Jazz Hop or even, “Beats to Study to”. These playlists are readily available on YouTube.
5. Slack On, Slack Off
The previous step mentioned external distractions, but what about distractions coming from your own devices? Slack is a very helpful tool that keeps our team connected, but it can also be very distracting. Turn Slack off (or set it to Do Not Disturb mode) and check in periodically with your team throughout your workday. This also includes notifications *that* may come from your phone’s Slack App.
*Note – Notifications as a whole are constantly competing for your attention. I specifically mentioned Slack here as this is what I mostly use and what causes the most of my interruptions – ironic, isn’t it? You may find that a social media site might be your stumbling block or perhaps the little red bubble that floats over the top of your email app. Try turning off or silencing whatever is constantly causing you to lose your focus.
6. Sleeping Beauty
Sleep is very important. A bad nights sleep for me can easily mean a day of feeling awful and not getting any meaningful work done. Chances are that you are not a superhuman either and despite how we wish we could operate at full steam without the need for some shut-eye. The facts remain, we need a good nights sleep and enough of it for our mind, body, and spirit to feel recharged and energized.
Try to aim for a reasonable bedtime that you can stick to. Focus on consistency and attempt to wake up at the same time daily – including weekends. Experiment to determine what works best for you, I heard that getting between 7 to 9 hours of solid sleep is best.
Personally, I try to get to bed at no later tha10:00 pm. I also avoid using my phone or working on anything that gets my brain going. It can be tough to convince a busy, restless or excitable mind that it is time to shut off and get some sleep. So having some “calm down” time before bed can do wonders.
Tips for getting a good nights rest
- Have an evening routine – Set a routine that helps you to relax and get ready for bed. Try activities that included tidying up, reading a non-fictional book, taking a bath and stretching.
- Turn off devices – A good rule of thumb is to shut down all your electronic devices an hour before lights out.
- Do a brain dump – Have a lot on your mind for the next day? Free up your mental RAM by writing everything that comes to mind for the next day. Having it down on paper frees your brain from having an obligation to try to remember everything.
- Journal – Try to set up a journaling habit. Starting a gratitude journal can be a great way to reflect on the positive things in your life, it can make you feel happier and prime your brain for bed.
- Listen to soothing music – Music comes to our rescue once again. Listening to soft, relaxing tunes can also help regulate your brainwaves and get your body ready for a good restful evening filled with sweet dreams and lots of Zzz.
The tips mentioned in this article are quite specific but have helped me a great deal. You may need to tweak them to suit your needs, but these tips should help you be a bit more productive when working in a remote environment.