The Productive Remote Work Guide (Part 2)– How To Stay Super Productive Working From Home

By Paul Milano

How to be a super productive remote worker

If you missed Part 1 of this article, read it here.

Some people when they start working from home or switch to a remote job feel that it can isolate them, and leave them forgotten about when promotion time comes.

That doesn’t have to be the case.

Here is exactly how to get noticed, stay noticed and be massively productive while working remotely. I’ve had two promotions since my three year work from home stretch so it is 100% possible.

1. You need a switch to get into work mode

It may be tempting to head over to your home office in your pajamas, but it’s hard to get into a productive mode when you do that (I’ve tried). 

When we head to an office for a work, we naturally have a cue that switches us into work mode. We get dressed, get ready and commute to the office in some way, maybe grabbing a coffee on the way or something like that.

When we work from home, we don’t need to do any of these things. It’s important to have a mental trigger though that tells us “its work time” so we need to create one.

I personally have a stretch routine to wake up my body, get dressed, make a coffee and occasionally go for a walk. Then head back to my home office and am ready to work.

2. Create a dedicated work-space

I’ve talked to so many people who have tried to fire up their laptop while laying in bed. Let me tell you, it just doesn’t work. As we discussed above, something needs to trigger you to switch into work mode, and if you’re not leaving the home you need a space that has the same effect.

It’s important to keep work and leisure separate, which is why it’s a good idea to create a dedicated workspace at home.

Invest in a good chair and desk, perhaps a monitor and bookshelf for your non fiction titles things like that.  The most important part is to not let your workspace spill over into the rest of your home. This space should stand out as being a work zone so that’s why its also important to make it as least cluttered and distraction free as possible.

You should also make a note of your mental triggers when you design your workspace. Certain objects will put you in the right frame of mind to be productive instead of procrastinating.

3. Master the art of work bursts

Pay attention to this one as mastering it can make you super productive and get more done then most almost overnight.

Mastering this is easier if you are working from home or remotely as you generally have more control of your schedule and less people distracting you. It allows you freedom and flexibility in your day while still driving home tons of value. 

What do we mean work bursts?

Basically, grouping similar tasks together to get done in one uninterrupted burst or block of work. It keeps your brain focused without switching between tasks constantly (which is a huge energy drain).

I recommend and use one hour as the time frame for these uninterrupted blocks. Your mind will start to drift after an hour and its best to take a break after each of these blocks is done.

How does it work?

I plan for about 3-4 of these blocks each day.  One block may be for doing product backlog work, one block may be to cover all my administrative tasks for the day for leading my team or one block may be assigned to a specific project I want to push forward. 

However, you choose to arrange when and what these blocks are is up to you. The point is that scheduling your work in bursts like this means you are no longer constantly switching between tasks or trying to find time to do things. You group similar tasks together, find a block to do them and you will find things will push forward much farther.  

We got a lot more in depth on this in the EverProductive course if you want to learn more.

4. Maintain a schedule and give updates before being asked

Using the tactics above we can start to create a daily schedule, aligning our blocks around meetings.

Now for many work items your manager or project team will give you deadlines but for others there may not be any specific deadline set. These can be special initiatives like reviewing processes to see if there is a better way to do it or save money or anything that goes above and beyond.

Without deadlines, its easy for these to fall behind but this type of stuff is what really gets you noticed.

If no deadline is given, make your own self driven deadline and stick to it. Assign one of your work blocks above to work on this a few times a week and you can give updates to your boss before they ask.  

I do bi-weekly 1 on 1s with my staff and I love when they give me updates on things before I even have to ask. This is very powerful for proving you are a high productive employee who can be trusted to do great work, no matter where you are.  

5. How to Communicate so nobody realizes you are gone

This one goes back to overcoming the visual fear of not being in the office and takes a bit of extra effort.

When you are working remotely, you miss out on the office “gossip” and small talk that can occur like where you are going on vacation or things like that. You may start to feel left out or excluded.

Now the best way to get noticed is by delivering massive results with the techniques above.

To go even further though, we should make the extra effort to create opportunities to have this small talk or just general chats with our boss and co-workers.

You can do this by being more proactive then usual when it comes to booking meetings to have discussions.

I hold meetings each week with my staff and I generally like to give the first 10-15 minutes as just a free for all to talk about anything non work related. What people did on the weekend, where you are going on vacation next, what you’re excited about, literally anything but work.

Another way to do this is by being engaged in your employee communications channels, like Slack or Yammer.

Having constant communication like this really emphasizes that you are still around and on peoples minds, even though you physically are not.  

The downsides of remote working and how to overcome them

Despite the numerous benefits of working remotely, there are also some downsides you need to be aware of before you jump head-first into it.

1. Loneliness

Remote work often means you’ll be on your own. While that may suit a lot of people, it’s definitely not for everyone — especially if you like your colleagues.

Many employees enjoy social time, office chat, and the non-work activities that come with an office-based job. Remote work limits these aspects of your work.

One of the ways I cope with this downside is to change up where I work. Since I only need a laptop and WiFi, I’ll head down to a cafe for a couple of hours and work there. In most cities, you’ll find a lot of other remote workers working from cafe’s as well. This helps mimic and create the community feel in an office.

In short, if you are feeling lonely, you need to find a way to help get the community feel. There are many working style cafes or co-workers spaces that are amazing for this.

2. Transitioning from office to home

It can also be difficult to get used to working from home. As mentioned earlier, it’s easy for your work life to bleed into your leisure time, and vice versa.

It may also be challenging for your manager and team members to get used to your absence in the office. Therefore, you should make sure that communication remains clear and constant, as we discussed above.

Use a communication app like Slack to stay in touch with your colleagues so they know that you’re accessible and there to help them. Be active on these tools, where it is Slack, Yammer or whatever your company uses. Doing so will not only help you stay connected to everyone, it will also help everyone stay connected to you, a must to stay highly productive and successful.

Ready to work from home?

Working from home is an amazing experience, and the freedom it offers you is unbeatable. However, it’s not always perfect, and there are a few things you need to get used to.

But once you get the hang of it, neither you nor your employer will likely ever look back on the office-based days. Remote working is the future, and you should be excited to be part of it.