As a travel blogger, you might be surprised to learn that I work from home more than anywhere else! On top of being a digital nomad, I’ve had to learn the ins-and-outs of how to work from home or wherever I take work with me.
Working remotely has so many benefits, like setting your own schedule or not having to take the metro to work at 7 am. But when working from home or on the road (as we did during van life), getting into a productive work routine can be quite the challenge!
This is why I decided to create this guide on the tips and tools I personally use for my remote work. Whether I’m working from home, in a van, or in a hotel for a travel collaboration, these are the techniques and tools I use to stay focused.
Here are 21 tips and tools for working remotely that you can implement today to start boosting productivity!
If you’re new to remote work, adjusting to working from home (or on the road) can be just plain frustrating. After all, you are having to get used to a new routine! Here are my tried-and-tested tools and tips for working remotely that will help boost your productivity and efficiency.
10 Tools to Help Boost Productivity and Organization
Which tools are the best for remote work? The answer depends on who you ask because there are two types of remote work tools. (Usually, people have a preference for one or the other.)
One is digital tools such as productivity apps, spreadsheets, online to-do lists, etc., and the other is physical stationery such as good ‘ole pen and paper, notebooks, planners, and so on.
The Content Planner — The ultimate curated content planner (created by #bossbabe Kat Gaskin) for getting ultra-organized with your business and social media. Includes a fillable 15-month calendar, at-a-glance monthly spreads, colorful stickers and tabs, goal setting inspiration, dream space pages, and more.
Notebook — Studies show that writing things down actually makes you more productive. So keep a trusty writing notebook just for work purposes. It helps you keep track of your progress and free-flowing ideas, with a little extra room for doodling.
Personal whiteboard — You can use a whiteboard for remote work to quickly and visually display your ideas, special reminders, and more. find that having a mini whiteboard with markers really improves my workflow! It’s a great way to be creative without cluttering up a work notebook.
Bullet Journal — Have you heard of bullet journaling yet? It’s the streamlined version of writing down a to-do list mixed with meditation and journaling. BuJo users call this ‘Rapid Logging‘ and people all over the world attest to its effectiveness on boosting productivity and organization.
Todoist — My go-to online tool for organizing my neverending to-do list! Todoist helps simplify ideas, lists, and projects with their user-friendly platform. Set dates, reminders, and receive notifications for deadlines.
Google Suite — Google Suite is the ultimate powerhouse toolkit for organizing your remote work. It includes Google’s core cloud-based platforms like Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets (Excel), Slides, Hangouts, Calendar, and more.
Monday.com — A simple and effective online tool created to streamline work-sharing across remote teams in one digital workspace. Easily visualize completed work, pending, and incomplete work with colorful categories and tabs to organize boards.
Slack — Send, share, and organize messages across groups and teams with this online messaging platform for businesses. Create private or group chats, organize projects and more. You can also connect Slack with other integrative apps to share tasks across platforms.
Trello — If Pinterest met Todoist met the Monday app, that’s Trello! Trello is an online tool designed to visually organize your workload. Create boards for projects, personalize them with color codes, archive completed tasks, set deadlines, track progress, and more!
Toggle — A free helpful online time tracking tool. It definitely helps with timing projects and the minutes/hours you spend on certain tasks. Effective for remote work when working under strict deadlines.
11 Remote Work Tips for Staying Motivated & Focused
In addition to tools, here are some tips for working remotely that you can do to stay inspired and productive.
Start your day by getting ready (don’t get in the habit of working in PJs)
If you’re thinking, “Ah, finally! I can work from home in my pj’s” — think again. When you first adjust to working from home, you might want to kick back on the couch in comfy clothes. And while that might feel good for a day, it’s not helpful for your work ethic long-term.
Instead, start your day as you would if you were going out into the world. Shower and get ready. Dress up, not down! Even if no one sees you, you’ll be surprised at how much getting ready can positively impact you mentally. You will feel more motivated and ready to tackle your remote work to-do list.
Try the Pomodoro 25-minute interval technique
Another way to boost productivity while working from home is to work in short yet intense 25-minute intervals, also known as the Pomodoro Technique. Select a task you need to get done with high-focus. Then, set a 25-minute tomato timer and work until the timer goes off. Take a 5-minute break. Repeat with 4x Pomodoro’s, then take a longer 20-minute break to clear your mind. The Pomodoro technique can be highly effective for remote work!
Don’t answer your emails first thing in the morning
As tempting as it might be, and unless there is an emergency, avoid checking your email inbox at all when you wake up and start your day. Getting sucked into emails can take huge chunks of your time. Instead, use your mornings wisely, when you have the most energy to spend on priority tasks.
Once I started doing this I not only saved more time (so I could do more things) but I felt more accomplished at the end of my morning. By leaving emails for later, you get to accomplish one major task already in the first 1-2 hours of starting your day. That alone changes how productive you will be for the rest of the day!
Switch off nearby devices
The best way to boost productivity when working from home is to switch off any devices around you. That includes your phone (unless you’re using it for work). And if you do use it for work, at least use an app that blocks your usage of social apps.
Having your phone buzzing nearby with social notifications from Facebook, Instagram, etc., can be disastrous for your efficiency and productivity. Now, I will turn my phone on silent and place it behind my laptop until I’m nearly finished with my task. Out of sight, out of mind?
Keep an inspiring workspace (A messy environment = messy mind)
Decluttering the physical space around you helps clear up mental space! Having an inspiring atmosphere where you can work from home often makes all the difference between a “meh” day and a productive day. One study even reveals that a messy environment actually distracts you from your focus as the objects around you compete for your attention. So remember to do some spring cleaning every now and then!
Stay in motion and keep moving
Another remote work tip for successfully working from home or on the road is to keep moving. When working from home or at an office, it’s common for people to sit for long periods of time. But moving is actually what stimulates us and helps us keep our focus! It’s no wonder influential people like Steve Jobs would walk around while speaking… It boosts productivity and creativity!
Staying in motion is not only important for our brain but our emotions and our bodies too. If you can routinely get out of your seated chair at home, great! Even better if you can work at a stand-up desk.
Limit all possible distractions
Phone, TV, pets, kids, snacks, games… Our homes are set up for comfort, so adjusting to working from home can become a real challenge when there’s just so much to be distracted by. Limiting all possible distractions is necessary to keep your focus while working remotely from home or on the road.
Speaking of distractions, one common faux-pas to avoid when working remotely is binge-snacking. Chowing down on your favorite snacks during work time is a huge productivity killer. If you’re hungry, it’s better to just take a clean break and go eat. But don’t try to mix the two. What’s important to practice when working from home or on the road is to separate work with pleasure. Know when to log off. By doing so, you’ll greatly increase your productivity. Then, once you’re done, you can enjoy your free time.
Staying mentally fit requires lots of hydration, something that many people have a hard time keeping track of. If you often go hours without a sip of water, curb this bad habit by downloading an app that reminds you to drink more. Getting plenty of fluids in your body increases focus and boosts energy, while keeping your mind and body healthy!
Take a 20-minute power nap
Believe it or not, napping has proven to be a productivity booster, not an inhibitor. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation states that a 20-minute nap can actually improve your alertness, performance, and mood! If you’re feeling hazy, a 20-minute nap (no more!) is a great way to get your focus back.
If you become anxious or lose focus, meditate!
When your workload is stressful, or if events outside your control are overwhelming you (much like the coronavirus pandemic might be doing right now), then it’s important to step back and take a moment to meditate. Meditation is a fail-proof way to calm the mind and body when given the opportunity. I like to use Headspace to do quick 5-10 minute guided meditation sessions whenever I need to refocus and find inner rest.
Final Thoughts: 21 Tips and Tools for Working Remotely
So how do you make working from home actually work? It’s all about the tools and techniques you apply to your day to day routine. It’s how you choose to spend your time and how you adjust to remote work by implementing new, healthy habits.
In other words, all the tips and tools you need for working remotely are at your fingertips! It’s up to you to utilize them to your benefit. Here’s to improving our time management and organization skills! 🙂
Have you ever worked remotely either at home or on the road? Drop your comments and tips down below!
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