You were probably excited to work remotely. After all, you heard you’ll experience amazing remote work benefits: zero commute stress, work from anywhere, anytime, and a healthy work-life balance.
But, remote work is just not ticking for you. Prolonged working hours, continuous distractions at home, and increased meetings are just a few reasons why.
While remote work does have a few downsides, the upsides outnumber it by a huge margin. But, you need to work in a certain way to manage these downsides and enjoy the upsides.
In this article, I’ll share with you the top remote influencer secrets to help you get started. These influencers have decades of experience as remote workers and share what worked best for them.
1. Have a dedicated workspace
It’s important to separate your work mode and relax mode to maximize your productivity. Creating a dedicated workspace helps you achieve that. You can then give 100% when you work and when you relax.
Hailley Mari, Head of Publications and Content at Buffer, agrees. She’s been working remotely for the past 6 years, and “work from designated workspaces” is at the top of her tips list.
In this essay, Hailley explains why. “I never work from bed and have rarely worked from the kitchen or the living room. I do this to keep a physical separation between the places where I’m working and the places where I’m relaxing.
I have my office set up so that I have a second place to sit that is not my desk while I work, so if I’m feeling restless I’ll change to my other chair, or I’ll go for a walk.” Creating a dedicated workspace will help you to switch between work mode and relax mode to rest and re-energize.
Here’s how to set up your home office:
a) Choose a place where no family member roams around it.
b) The room should be well lit and have a high-speed Internet connection.
c) The workspace shouldn’t have a sofa or a couch, only a work table, and other essentials: laptop, chair, and printer.
d) Fill your workspace with positive cues like plants or books.
e) Have a water bottle while you start working so that you don’t leave the place every time you’re thirsty.
f) Remove everything that will distract you: snacks, video games, and anything else.
If you don’t have enough space for a work office, create a mobile office that you can set up and tear daily. Or work out of a café. Or rent a coworking space with your remote colleagues/friends.
2. Manage your energy levels
Many remote workers follow the same office hours (9 to 5) for remote work. Amir Salihefendic, CEO of Doist, advises against it. He prefers scheduling the work based on energy levels. “What’s critical is managing your energy levels. It’s very important to figure out when you have the most energy.”
Here’s how to manage your energy levels:
a) Identify your chronotype. If you’re the most energized during the mornings, do your important tasks (“that requires a lot of energy and a lot of thinking”) during that time. If you’re productive during the night, work during that time.
Or if you’re a person whose energy levels fluctuate between day and night, schedule your tasks accordingly. The goal should be to understand your energy peaks and match them with your work routine.
b) Block distractions.
- Use Mailman to block email during your deep work sessions.
- Use Freedom to block distracting websites and apps.
- Use Zapier to automate repetitive tasks.
- Set strict rules when someone should communicate with you.
c) Know what drains your energy and distance yourself from them.
d) Sleep and eat well.
Managing your energy levels will help you:
a) Get work done on time.
b) Tackle important tasks.
c) Improve work output (since you’ll work only when you’re at peak energy levels)
d) Improve work satisfaction.
3. Establish work-life boundaries
Remote work has blurred the lines between work and life. According to Courtney Seiter, VP of People at Hologram, “while most of us don’t miss a long commute to and from work, the one thing it offered was a clear boundary between work and life. Those boundaries can start to dissolve with remote work.”
One meeting here, one task there - a remote worker is dragged on to work extra hours. It’s why it’s important to remind your colleagues that just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re available 24/7. This will help you respect your and their time, gain time for friends and family, and support your mental health.
Courtney recommends “setting the boundaries for yourself with morning and evening rituals. For example, try morning meditation before opening your laptop or take an evening walk to close down the day. Also, make sure to set boundaries in all your communications tools, so folks have true time away from work. This can be as simple as turning off certain notifications during certain hours.”
Some other tips to establish work-life boundaries:
a) Let your colleagues know your working hours. Ask them to contact you only during that time. Don’t entertain messages outside those hours, unless urgent. Define what you mean by urgent situations.
b) Tell your family members, too, to not bother you during your working hours.
c) Adopt writing 90% of the time when communicating. Create a strict criterion when to have meetings. Here’s a Harvard decision tree to help you.
d) Communicate your non-negotiables with your team. For example, “I don’t work on weekends.”
Many remote workers ignore resting. They pursue climbing up the corporate ladder at the cost of their mental health. But, when you squeeze every minute of your schedule, you end up exhausting yourself and disliking your work.
The truth is: Resting is more important than working. Matt Mochary preaches this advice when he coaches top tech leaders of companies like Coinbase, Y Combinator, and Sequoia.
Resting will help you restore your energy levels and increase your work efficiency. So, “take time away for yourself, don’t work on weekends, and take a long weekend with your family once every few months.”
Resting doesn’t necessarily mean you sit idle. You can practice your hobby, go out for a walk, or just chat with your family and friends. The goal should be to disconnect from your work and take time to calm your mind.
5. Share weekly updates
It was easy to update your manager on your progress while working from the office. You just had to share the details during the 1-on-1 meetings. This helped you highlight your achievements, receive feedback, and get that promotion.
But, you don’t have the same luxury in a remote environment. Managers are themselves balancing different people, tasks, projects, and their life. They may forget to review your progress or be inconsistent with it.
It’s why writing weekly updates helps. Andy Berman, CEO of Vowel (a video conferencing and meeting software), writes, “Weekly recaps are great to share with your manager and extended stakeholders to show your wins — focus on work you shipped, metrics you moved, and how you progressed on a big project or goal.”
Share a weekly recap every Friday with your manager, answering these two questions:
a) What did I do this week?
b) What will I do next week?
This will keep your manager updated on your progress, get your work reviewed, and boost your career progress.
Become a pro remote worker
What every remote worker knows: Remote work is here to say.
What most remote workers don’t know: How to be a productive remote worker.
But, now you know. Try each tactic and stick with the one that works for you.