The pandemic changed the world of work dramatically. More and more people in software development (and other areas too) work remotely. However, remote work comes with its ups and downs. For some people, it's a curse. For others, it's a blessing.
Thus, in this article, I will show you how you can make the most of remote working and how to do it like a pro! Without further ado, let's jump in!
1. Work-life balance
I want to start with establishing a healthy work-life balance. If you value your health, life, family, and friends - having a healthy work-life balance is of utmost importance.
Having the workplace "with you" at home can be tempting to over-work yourself. It's super easy to cross the fine line and become a workaholic. You'll lie to yourself that it's just one more task, one more feature, one more email, and so on. Then, you look back and find out that you spent the majority of your time working.
So, what are some ways to improve the work-life balance?
- Unplug yourself after work - Don't be afraid to close and ignore everything work-related after work. You don't have to be available 24/7 for work. After all, the contract specifies eight working hours (most of the time), right?
- Make time for yourself and loved ones - If something happens to you tomorrow, it's not the company that will take care of you. It's your family, friends and loved ones. They're precious, more precious than any job. Make time for them and spend time with them. It's priceless, and I learnt that the hard way.
- Set working hours - Do you want to work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.? Then do so, but don't cross those work hours. Answering emails, thinking about upcoming projects and so on, can wait until the next working day.
- Enjoy your time off - In tech, it's a crazy world (sometimes). It feels like you either are working or learning in your free time to keep up with the tech world. That's a one-way ticket to burnout and stress. Even though it's fine to learn and code in your free time, don't make it all about that. Take time off to de-stress, relax and recharge.
The above list is not exhaustive, and there are many ways to create or improve your work-life balance. However, they are the pillars of my work-life balance.
2. Block distractions to maximise productivity
In the offices, we worked alongside our team-mates and superiors. As a result, people saw you when you "wasted" time browsing social media. You didn't want to get caught, so you wasted as little time as possible.
However, working remotely changed that. We're no longer surrounded by our co-workers and superiors. We are on our own! That makes it easier than ever to fall into time-wasting and spend a lot of time in it. After all, nobody can see us, right?
So how can you avoid wasting time and maximise productivity?
Clean your work area
One of the most important steps is to de-clutter and keep your work area distractions-free. Remove your phone, wallet, tablet, game console and whatever distracts you.
The fewer distractions you have, the more productive you are. Remove anything that decreases your productivity.
Block online distractions
It's extremely easy to fall into browsing social media for tens of minutes or even hours. It's incredible how fast time flies when you browse social media.
The solution? BLOCK THEM! Thankfully, there are a plethora of options you can use to block such distraction. You can use desktop applications or browser extensions.
In my case, I use browser extensions to block such websites, and it works wonders. It increased my productivity by at least 30%. Rather than being "captivated" by yet another useless post on social media, I focus on my work.
Therefore, you can improve your productivity by simply:
- keeping your area distractions-free
- blocking online distractions
Try it for a few days, and you'll be amazed!
3. Create a schedule
Create a schedule that works for you. If you work better in the morning, try to find some extra time in the morning. If you work better at night, do it the night time. The main point is to find the time where you can be at your best and carry out focused work!
Besides being at your best, find the time when you can do uninterrupted work. It's super important to find a time when you're less likely to be interrupted. The more other people/distractions interrupt you, the less work you'll be able to do.
In my case, I work around 6:30 a.m. because I can do uninterrupted work for 1 or 2 hours. Also, I can work without being interrupted because everyone is asleep. However, it differs from person to person.
Finally, you have to experiment and see what works for you. There is no universal path that works for all of us. The main point is that you can spend focused, uninterrupted time on your work by establishing a schedule.
- find a time when you work at your best
- try to do uninterrupted work
4. Create a list of tasks and a journal
Unloading your brain is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. Trying to keep everything in your head can make you stressed, and you are more likely to forget information.
You can make use of applications like Notion to take notes and unload your brain. In my case, I use Notion because it has more features and is, therefore, more practical. With Notion, you can use templates to create logs, task lists, and more.
With that being said, I always note everything in my journals and task lists. That means I free my brain of unnecessary information and use that energy for more important tasks.
Therefore, I recommend you to keep a journal or/and a task list. Note everything there to empty your brain.
5. Up your time-management skills
Time-management skills are essential, primarily when you work remotely. The first thing you can do to improve your time-management skills is to prioritise tasks. You could prioritise the tasks as follows:
- high-importance tasks - the tasks you should do first because they are the most difficult and/or have a high impact
- medium-importance tasks - tasks that are less important than high-importance tasks but more important than low-importance tasks
- low-importance tasks - the tasks you can do at any time because they are not urgent and/or do not have a high impact
Another method is to delegate tasks that other people can do. Why try to do everything when you can unload yourself and delegate some work? This is easier said than done, but it would be great if you could delegate your tasks.
Thirdly, focus on one task at the moment. Multi-tasking is a great way to do many things and never finish them. Or produce poor quality. In a world where multi-tasking is glorified, try to be a single-tasker. Finish one job before moving onto another one.
Lastly, create a list of tasks and a journal.
Thus, you can improve your time-management skills as follows:
- prioritise tasks in high/medium/low-importance tasks
- delegate work that can be delegated
- scrap multi-tasking and focus on one task at a time
- create a list of tasks and a journal
These are the top five pillars of remote working in my life. These tips help me stay sane and harness its full power.
Of course, the list is not exhaustive, which means I am keen to hear your remote working tips. If you have any, leave them in the comments!