How I used The Productivity Triangle to stay productive (while working remotely)

Back to basics. No tools, no hacks, no magic.

So, how can you stay productive while working remotely?

I think it's exactly the same with how to be productive when not working remotely.

Note: Now that everyone is forced to transition to remote work thanks to COVID-19, there are certain unforeseen situations outside of our control (lack of working space, infrastructure, and other responsibilities such as childcare and boundaries).This is not normal remote working. This is working in emergency. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and distracted.But we need to start transitioning more seriously and start investing in equipments and practice the right mental habits to allow us to shift slowly into a proper remote work in the long run.This article addresses productivity issues assuming you have reached a point where the main issues are motivation or distraction. Been resisting the urge to write yet-another-productivity-tips but hey maybe this will help you somehow.


Working remotely allows you to work when you are most productive, where you are most productive.

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

What does it mean "to be productive" ?

At the core of it, it means you "produce" something.

Do you know What you want to produce?

This is where you need to define before you get to work.

Do you know Why?

Now that you know what that thing is, the next question that pops up is: do you know why you need to produce that thing?

Do you know How?

Once you know the What and the Why, do you know How?

  • The Technical How. The actual technical knowledge that goes into getting the work done. If your What is to build an Android app by yourself, one of the Hows is learning to code. If your What is to have an Android app built, one of the Hows is finding a good developer. If you are asked to produce a RACI matrix, then one of the Hows is to learn about what that is, and get educated on Project Management. It's OK to not be able to "be productive" if this is the first time you need to pick up the skill.
  • The Supporting How. This is where a lot of productivity tips and gurus focus on. The tactics, the tools, the strategy, the systems. The todo lists, the time tracking apps, the schedule-it-or-it-won't-happen trick, the getting-to-inbox-zero tactics. And for good reasons. Because on some level, people already have some vague unconscious idea of What they want to produce, Why they need to produce them, and How they will likely do it. Heck even I have a bunch of systems in place that I'd love to share about, that fits the way I work currently. The catch is that everyone are wired differently. We have different preferences and styles. We work, learn, and operate differently. So there is no silver bullet in this area. Just try a bunch of things and see if it works for you. Have fun.

The Productivity Triangle

Now let's come back to the What for a sec.

  1. The How depends heavily on the way you frame the What.
  2. For each What, we can revisit the Why to refine the What.
  3. One How can give birth to many more Whats.

To summarise

So if you find yourself struggling to be productive, however you define it at the moment, ask yourself:

  1. Do I know what I want to produce?
  2. Do I know why I need to do it?
  3. And do I know how?
  4. Which ones of these am I stuck on? how can I clarify them?

After thoughts

Note that being productive doesn't mean producing in an effective nor efficient manner.



Exploring the different skill-sets to better navigate the non-technical aspects of Tech. Exploring principles, strategies and tactics in social intelligence, leadership & managerial skills, attitude, aptitude, execution, productivity, adaptability, communication, and wellbeing.

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Theresia Tanzil

This is where I ask questions and talk to myself | Backend web dev, web scraping, Robotics Process Automation | Blogs at