10 habits for optimising remote work

I like to work from home a couple of days a week. It boosts my productivity, improves my habits, recharges extroversion and I learn to appreciate being at the office even more. Here are a few habits and lessons i’ve adopted in order to be more productive. Please post a comment if you have any habits of your own to share.

Disclaimer: Most of these habits make most sense if you are working from home.

1. Start with a to-do list 📝

I always start the day by listing up things to do. It keeps me focused. I write two to three lists, something like this:

  • Main tasks. Big important stuff.
  • Short side-tasks. Like sending emails, pull-requests (code stuff), particular discussions with co-workers etc
  • Pomodoro break activities (see below)

I always begin with the most challenging task. My brain works better in the morning, and it’s usually best for me to spend maximum energy early on.

2. Maximise productiveness with pomodoro 🚅

Pomodoro is a productivity technique where you practice 25 minutes of hyper-focused work, then chill for 5 minutes. I do this as often I can during my workdays, because, well; it makes me very productive, and I completely avoid wasting time on Facebook, Reddit, news etc. I tend to flex with the timings though. The deeper I am into something the longer I put the timer on, and vice versa. Wouldn’t work otherwise (Here’s the app I am using). Also, enforcing breaks will sometimes make me think of a problem in a different way when I start up again. I usually quit all distractions (which is easier when you’re not at the office) such as Slack, Chrome notifications etc, and I don’t allow doing anything not task related. This is especially great when I do stuff that’s less motivating, in which case I am more easily distracted. In order to reach my ultimate goal of becoming super human (lol) I usually do interesting things during the breaks that offloads the brain.

Here’s a list of things I usually do during 5 minute pomodoro breaks:

Notice the Pomodoro category

Quite often though, it doesn’t make sense to stop if I’m in a deep productive flow. In which case I just skip the breaks.

3. Cook up a kick-ass lunch 🍲🍳

You are at home, you’re crushing it, you have the whole day ahead of you, and absolutely nothing is stopping you from making an epic meal. Make your workday more exciting by cooking something interesting. You can start early and prepare things that can cooks itself while you go on and crush work. Awesome food blogs I follow:

With these weapons in your toolkit, there’s no good reason not to invite your colleges home for a lunch party. And you’ll improve your cooking skills.

If you don’t feel like wasting precious time on cooking and eating, but just want the body to be super healthy, grab a Jimmyjoy, Soylent or any other form for instant nutrition bomb.

4. Get boring shit done like cleaning 💩

Whenever I feel like my brain needs a cognitive break I like to pick up a physical activity. Like house cleaning. It’s super effective. After some 5–10 minutes of micro cleaning I usually get so bored that I run back to my computer, super motivated to crunch code. Here’s some micro-cleaning activities I usually do:

  • Make the bed neat
  • Empty the laundry hamper
  • Clean dirty dishes
  • Sort mail
  • Clean the shelves
  • Clean the oven (really really boring)
  • Clean all mirrors
  • Fix the sink (it’s probably broken)

And here’s a huge list of things to clean: Huge list


5. Zero interruptions 📵

Pretty obvious, but sometimes it can be chill to have no one interrupting you. It’s mostly just a problem if I am in deep flow. Remove all things that are subject to disturbance. Quit Slack, turn off your phone, kill wi-fi (if possible), now enable full-focus mode. Inject some alcohol if you’ll allow it. Zero to ballmer’s peak. Find your comfort zone, put on brain food music and embrace maximum efficiency mode.

6. Maximise comfort 🛀

Ahh, the awesomeness of wearing chill pants all day. Or pyjamas. Batman costume. Hell, you can even be naked. Which apparently is super healthy. Too weird for me though. Another great thing with working from home is that you can take full advantage of your chillaxing gear, which I hope you have. Like a super comfortable couch, hammock, chair, or just use your bed. I sometimes do the latter for an hour, before I crawl into my sexy-ugly sweatpants, size XXXL hoodie and thick hand knitted socks. Chill AF.

Preferred business suit for home office

7. Go to a café ☕

Mix up your surroundings. After working from home a few hours I usually crave a change in environment. Get outside and find a nice café to work from. Make sure you don’t pick a place where fresh-made parents have baby meetings, but choose a recognised work or startup café. There’s usually lists of these in most major cities.

8. Communication 🎥

A nice observation I have made with having a remote work culture is that meetings often get more productive. People tend to avoid talking unless they have something valuable to say, i.e reducing chit-chat and redundant statements that belong elsewhere. We have also improved our habit of firing up an appear.in conversation every time a video conversation is more appropriate then Slack chat. Which is often. Body language is essential. Topics like “coffee break”, “product discussion”, “tech chat” are popping up regularly.

As for socialising, we have a webcam constantly streaming from our office through appear.in, so whenever I feel like socialising I join that room. It’s almost the same as being there physically. Almost. Slack is obviously a great tool for asynchronous communication. You may or may not wanna make sure you are easy to get in contact with, depending on your work role. I prefer to minimise Slack distractions by taking advantage of channel muting while enabling notifications for mentions and DMs.

9. Work with friends or family 🎎

If your friends have sensible bosses that allow remote work, you might wanna arrange work hangouts. I do this occasionally, and it’s great. You’re gonna love it. It’s the best. 👻

No, really it’s just a nice opportunity to be with friends or family.

10. Break up your work session with a workout 💪

After some good hours of work, it’s nice to break things off with a workout. Go out for a run, go to the gym or crunch a podcast episode while power-walking around your neighbourhood. This usually gives me lots of energy to kick off the rest of the day. And you loose the stress of bringing your gym bag to work. Also, going to the gym after lunch hours is always nice because the gym is usually pretty empty. Meaning you can do weird exercises you prefer to do alone.

When you have the gym all for yourself

Do you agree? Or want to share these tips with your friends, tweetaboutit ⬅️ 😀

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