Over the past few years, a lot of us have started working remotely. That's what I also did, and I fell in love with this life.
Indeed, a bit more than two years ago, I started my first full-time job as a Software Engineer. And at the same time, I began my first remote experience.
Nowadays, I'm 23 years old, living in Europe, working for a company based in Singapore, and planning to start a digital nomad life in Asia.
Based on my experience, I've put together 15 working from home tips to help you stay productive. I categorized these tips into 5 categories that you'll discover just below.
Just keep in mind that these tips are based on my personal experience, readings, and documentation. Everyone is different, and some of them may not work with your needs and goals.
Tip #1 – Build a strong work-life balance
One of the most impactful categories you need to take care of is your work-life balance.
Yes, you read about this in all remote-work articles, but what does it mean?
When you work remotely, it's easy to cut yourself out from your life. Your work can start overwhelming you because you feel like you're only doing that.
Even if you're passionate about what you are doing, it's essential to know how to step away from it to relax and stay productive in the long run.
Here are some tips to achieve a work-life balance.
1. Take breaks and go outside
It seems simple, right? Remote work doesn't mean staying at home all day. I highly recommend taking breaks and going outside to refresh your mind and leave your workplace.
What about eating outside during your lunchtime or even going for a walk in the afternoon?
2. Take up a sport or activity that takes your mind off things
To avoid feeling burnout from your job, take a step back and practice a relaxing and mind-changing activity.
Many people like to play a sport, while others prefer simply making time for other activities or hobbies that are different from what they do at work.
3. Split your computer
One of the most challenging parts of working from home is differentiating your work time from your non-work time.
If you're using the same computer for your work and your side-projects/chill time, this tip is for you.
Split your browser configuration
Nowadays, most browsers allow you to create profiles. I recommend that you make two profiles, one for your work and one for non-work time.
This allows you to disconnect easier when you're outside of work. At the same time, it helps organize your bookmarks and sessions (for example: if you're using the same tools between your work and your side-projects).
Create another session on your computer
This isn't something that I do personally. But, I read a lot about people using two different sessions.
It sounds like the "ultimate" solution if you want to keep these two spaces independent.
4. Don't setup work notifications on your phone
This tip can be controversial depending on what you're doing as a remote worker. But, still, I think it's something essential if you want to keep a work-life balance.
I don't like to have work applications or notifications on my phone for many reasons. Remote work means asynchronous life. Your co-workers can work at different hours than you. If you want to avoid waking up with work notifications or receiving messages while you're outside with friends, this is something you should avoid.
Note: If your work requires setting up some applications, there are many ways to remove the notifications after a defined hour. That can be an alternative.
5. Work from a co-working space
Another piece of advice that I've heard a lot is to work remotely from outside your home. Well, it's a bit controversial with this article title, but it's a genius way to keep a work-life balance if you can afford it and feel comfortable working in a public space.
If you're not feeling productive at home, even after reading and trying many things, working from a co-working space can help you.
Nowadays, co-working spaces are everywhere. If you can, try one of them out to see if it works for you.
Tip #2 – Create your own working environment
Now that we've talked about the importance of keeping a work-life balance, let's dig a bit more into your workspace and how you can improve it.
1. Choose or create a workspace that stimulates you
While working remotely, you have the freedom to create a workspace where you feel good. Be imaginative and bring what stimulates you around your desk. It can be plants, books, or anything that you like.
If you're a digital nomad or a frequent traveler, you can select a coffee shop, a co-working space, or a flat that inspires you.
A nice place to work is always a good source of motivation.
2. Separate your workspace from your sleeping one
I know that's not possible for everyone, but try as much as possible to separate your workspace from your bedroom.
If you wake up and work in the same place as you sleep, you will certainly have the feeling that you're always doing the same thing. It's not motivating to stay in the same room all day. When you reach your bed, you will still be in your "working" room.
3. Declutter your desk
Many articles and guides about productivity share this tip, but decluttering your desk and keeping it clean and minimal can help free your mind and help you focus more.
Again, it's a matter of personal opinion, but I like to keep my remote working space clean and simple to focus only on what matters.
Tip #3 – Socialize at work
Social aspects are essential as a remote worker. They help you stay motivated and avoid this inner feeling of working alone (even if you're not).
1. Schedule virtual time with your colleagues
Remote work doesn't mean staying away from your colleagues. Even if it can seem socially distancing at times, one essential point is to keep socializing.
Don't be shy – ask your colleagues for a 15-30 minutes coffee meeting to get to know them better.
If you're not working as a freelancer on alone on your project, there are many online events and communities that allow you to talk with like-minded people and share a coffee with them.
2. Try to schedule a social meeting each week in your company
If you're leading a remote company or working at one, this point is for you. Don't hesitate to schedule or ask for a social meeting each week. For example, it can be an hour where everyone meets up online and plays an online game together. The possibilities are endless.
Let me give you feedback on my experience. I'm working at Cococart. We create a product that allows you to create a simple, beautiful store in minutes. We're a remote worldwide company: all the team is spread worldwide, and some are frequent travelers.
Each week, we do one "Campfire" – an hour and a half meeting where we meet each other, talk about our highlights and lowlights of the week, give kudos to our co-workers, and play a game together. It can seem like a short time but trust me, it really helps build up significant team motivation and spirit.
One of the most awkward parts of working remotely is to feel alone. This point is only one example, but feel free to socialize using your preferred way.
Tip #4 – Become a time-management expert
To improve your productivity as a remote worker, time also matters. Make sure you're using yours wisely.
1. Try to have a set work schedule
I don't want to say that you shouldn't work hard or count your hours. I work a lot and don't always follow this rule.
I want to share that it's better to have at least a vague idea of when you start your day and finish it. It can be a good thing for your work-life balance, staying focused, and getting your work in the dedicated timeframe.
But as with all the tips I'm sharing in this article, it's a matter of personal opinion. I often shift my work schedule depending on a meeting or if I want to work more one day, and so on. Remote work gives you more flexibility and freedom. So it would be sad to not benefit from it! Just do what's best for you.
2. Schedule your tasks
This advice applies to many topics, but you will probably work more efficiently and achieve your goals easier if you schedule your day.
As a remote worker, it can be a good motivation factor. An organized day with focused work results in more time for yourself, lets you start working on something new at your job, or anything that you like.
Tip #5 – Learn to deep focus
Practicing some deep focus sessions is your ally if you want to skyrocket your productivity. Let me give you three tips that can help with it.
1. Listen to focus songs
Using focus/chill music can help you stay productive and enter into a deep focus. It's often an excellent way to hack your productivity.
Here are some examples of websites where you can listen to that kind of music for free:
2. Use the "Do not disturb" option on your phone
Nowadays, we always receive notifications on our phones. Most modern devices have a "Do not disturb" feature that allows you to disable notifications when entering "Work" mode.
If you don't have this option, tons of applications like Forest in the store allow you to "restrict" your phone and enter focus mode.
3. Limit distractions
A bit related to the last tip, limiting distractions helps you stay focused. Review your environment and try to remove or push away all objects that annoy you while working.
Here are some examples: put away your phone, close YouTube videos while working, switch off the TV, and so on.
Thank you for reading this article. I hope it provided you with insightful tips to improve your remote work life or even start working remotely.
I regularly deliver content about web development, personal growth as a developer, and my journey as an aspiring digital nomad and remote software engineer. If you don't want to miss them, I invite you to follow me on Twitter.