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10 Powerful Productivity Tips for Remote Workers

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

As a digital nomad, you’ve escaped the 9-5 grind and being under the watchful eye of your boss. You now have complete freedom and autonomy over your day. This can take some adjusting, however, these productivity tips will help you learn to adjust and work smarter, not harder.

These productivity hacks are critical for digital nomads, especially those just starting out. Before escaping the 9-5, most people were used to a traditional way of working. This meant a work environment of office politics, with people always peering over your shoulder as you work, and paying close attention to when you clock in at work. However, once you go remote, it’s like graduating from being a child to a real adult. All of a sudden your employer trusts you to get your work done. It doesn’t matter where you work when you work, or how you work, all that matters is that the work gets done and that it adds value.


Whether you’re new to the digital nomad lifestyle of working remotely, or you’re a seasoned digital nomad looking to increase your productivity these 10 powerful productivity tips will ensure you can get more done in less time.


Get a Good Night’s Sleep for Optimal Productivity

Who would have thought a post on how to be productive would tell you to sleep. However, sleep and feel rested may be the single most important factor in increasing your productivity. Sleep has such a large impact on our cognitive performance.


There are some mornings when I’m really tired. I don’t have to start work by a certain time but I usually aim for 9 am as I dedicate about 1 - 1.5 hours to my morning routine. However, if I am tired on a particular day, it’s more efficient for me to sleep an extra hour than try and wake up and get work done. Let’s consider both options:

Option 1. Tried and Unproductive.


If I’m tired, I’m going to try and get work done. However, the reality is that I will painfully sit in front of my computer, eyes glazed over and nothing will get done all day. When I’m tired I’m not as creative, my decision-making ability is negatively impacted, and it’s hard to focus. The negative impact tiredness can have on our productivity.


With this option, I could expect 4 hours’ worth of work to take 8 hours (hypothetically)


Option 2. Rested and Productive

If I’m rested, I’m alert, creative, and productive. With this option, I could get 8 hours of work done in 4 hours (hypothetically). That means I can take the rest of the day off to enjoy it.


Not only can we see the importance of getting a good sleep but we can also see why sometimes it may be worthwhile to sleep that extra hour if it means it will save you 4 hours' worth of productivity.


Create a Powerful Morning Routine

The first 30 minutes of our day can have a profound impact on how the rest of our day goes. I know this from first-hand experience. A powerful morning routine is a complete game-changer, and aside from sleep, the best productivity hack.


The goal of a morning routine is to calm your mind (instead of immediately thinking of all the things you need to do), get in a positive frame of mind, then start your day. This could include doing any of the following:


  • Meditate

  • Read

  • Write what you’re grateful for

  • Write how you want to “show up” today. Ie centered, focused, mindful, calm, etc

  • If you’re woo woo like me then clear the energy in your space with sage or palo santo.

  • Use a lavender essential oil roller or diffuser to support a relaxed state

  • Stretch

Even just spending 5 minutes on a few different tasks can have a huge impact on how you feel throughout the day. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below or even share in the comments what your morning routine entails. I’d love to hear from you.


Batch Tasks to Maintain a Flow State

Have you ever tried to do 3 things at once? You jump from one thing to another. Then all of a sudden an hour goes by and you realize you’ve just spent most of your time jumping around and nothing has really got accomplished.

The challenge with jumping around between different tasks is that you can never really get into that “flow” state and that means your tasks will take even longer to complete.


Instead, try batching tasks. Batching tasks is when you complete a series of tasks altogether, or in a “batch” instead of separately.


For example, if you’re a social media manager, you could write all your social media posts for the month at once, instead of trying to write a new post every single day. This way you can get in flow with the social media posts and complete the task in less time.


Ask yourself, “What tasks could I batch together?”


Create Daily Themes

A spin-off of batching tasks is to create “daily themes”. If you have the ability, you can try and plan your daily themes so that one day of your week is dedicated to calls with the team/clients, another day is dedicated to admin tasks, another day is dedicated to creative tasks, etc.


The power of creating daily themes is that every day of the week you know what to expect/anticipate and you can get into that flow state. This allows you to get more done in less time.


Have Only 1 Task on Your To-Do List

Oftentimes, people will create a long to-do list for the day and immediately gravitate towards completing the fun or “easy” tasks first. However, the end of the day rolls around and that important and perhaps more challenging task is still not complete. The stress starts to rise and then it’s a scramble against the clock to meet your deadline.


Instead of creating a giant to-do list, try the “one item to-do list”.


Before you start your workday write down the single most important tasks that you need to accomplish that day. If you need help deciding, it should be the task that will drive most results. Don’t allow yourself to work on anything else until it’s complete. Hint: The task you should be focusing on is usually not the “fun” tasks. Once the single important task is complete then you can focus on other tasks. The up-side to the “one item task list” is that by getting it done in the morning you don’t have to try and survive that 3 pm slow-down and a challenging task at the same time. We also know that the “fun” tasks give us a little energy boost, which would be nice to have around that 3 pm lull. This approach helps balance and manage your energy throughout the day.


Create a ‘Done’ List (The Anti-To-Do List)

Oftentimes, people will start their workday by writing down a list of lengthy tasks. This can feel overwhelming and when you fall short, you may fixate on is what didn’t get done.


Instead, I suggest using an “anti-to-do list”.

Instead of writing down everything that needs to get done, start with a blank page, and as you start to accomplish tasks, write down what you’re accomplishing. This approach will still encourage you to get stuff done because you’ll be able to see your growing list of completed tasks throughout the day. Then, once you come to the end of the day, instead of focusing on all of your shortcomings, you can see everything that you got accomplished.


Work WHEN and WHERE You Work Best

Another challenge that new digital nomads in particular face is that although they now have the freedom to work when and where they want, they still have the pressure to work Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 am - 5 pm.


However, being a digital nomad and remote worker means you can embrace your unique working style. For example, if you’re a night person, embrace that and work nights. The same applies to where you work too. If you prefer working in a cafe instead of a coworking space, then do that. As a digital nomad, this is now your time to live life on your terms. Of course, when you work may depend on your remote employer, however, since most distributed teams have staff across the globe this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.


Personally, when I did full-time online marketing for a distributed team, we were able to pick our hours. However, we did have 2-3 hours of the day where we were all required to be online at the same time so that our hours would overlap.

The purpose of this was so that we knew during these hours that everyone would all be available for any calls or communication that need to be had. Then the rest of the time we went off and focused on getting our work done.


You also want to sort out where you work best. Remember, as a digital nomad you have plenty of options. a cute cafe down the road, or even working from home. Get out there and try what works best for you. Who knows, a coworking space could be a great boost of inspiration and a great way to connect with a community of like-minded people.


HOW TO FIGURE OUT WHERE YOU WORK BEST

When it comes to learning where you work best, give yourself some flexibility to learn without being too hard on yourself. For example, I came to learn that I work best from two locations a day. Doing so,' gives me a chance to have a break. I also find that when I get started at my second location I feel more motivated because it feels like I’m starting my workday again.

I also prefer to be surrounded by other people who are also working online, because it helps me feel like I’m not alone. However, if you prefer to work from home with no one around you, then embrace that.

This process will take a bit of trial and error. Here’s how to approach it:


  • Brainstorm a bunch of places where you would work (coworking spaces, cafes, home etc)

  • Try a new location from the list each day

  • After each experience reflect on “how did that feel?”

  • If it felt good, then do that more of that and if it did not feel good or left you feeling stressed, then do less of that

HOW TO FIGURE OUT WHEN YOU WORK BEST

You can apply the same principles I mentioned above when determining when you work best. Brainstorm a few options, try them out, then reflect on how it felt. It felt good, then that’s when you should work, and if it made you feel “off” or stressful then don’t work during that time again.

Everyone is different.

Some people prefer silence. Some people like background noise. Some people like working in the mornings. Some people prefer working in the evenings. Some people like working with lots of people around. Some people prefer working alone.


The wonderful part of being a digital nomad is that you can now work when and how you work best. Your schedule is no longer dictated by some obscure social 9-5 construct.


Tip: Tiredness is a sign of dehydration. If you’re feeling tired throughout the day, make sure you’re drinking enough water.


Eliminate Distractions by Putting your Phone on Do Not Disturb

We all know by now how distracting our devices can be. Be sure to turn your phone on do not disturb. If that doesn’t work for you, you can also:


  • Leave your phone in another room if you’re working from home

  • Leave your phone in your bag if you’re working from a cafe or coworking space

How to be realistic with this approach

This is a hard habit to break so you may want to do “cold turkey” or progressively lead up to this. For example, start by keeping your phone on do not disturb in the mornings then once you’ve got comfortable with that, then put it on do not disturb during the afternoon as well. Alternatively, you start with 1 hour on do not disturb then each day you can add another hour to it.


Take Breaks to Boost Your Energy

There’s working hard and then there’s working smart.

To work smart means understanding how to manage your energy. Naturally, as more time passes throughout the day when we’re working, the less productive we become.


That’s just the science and nature of being a human. However, we can mitigate how fast and steep that decline in productivity is. To improve your energy and productivity, it’s important to take frequent breaks. You can go for a quick walk, read 3 pages in a book or just sit there and focus on your breathing.


If you listen to your body and give it what it needs, you’ll be more productive.

Now, how frequently and for how long you should take a break is up for debate.

  • Robert Pozen suggests, after 75 to 90 minutes of work to take a 15-minute break.

  • Another suggests after 52-minutes of work take a 17-minute break

  • The Pomodoro technique suggests ts after 25 minutes of work to take a 5-minute break. Source: Fast Company

I suggest you experiment with each technique and determine what works best for you. However, working smarter and not harder isn’t just about taking breaks…


Streamline, Automate and Create a systemized process for repetitive tasks

The biggest time-waster is “re-inventing the wheel” every time you need to complete a task. Always ask yourself, “How can I improve this process or make it more efficient?”

Maybe you find yourself writing an email that addresses the same thing over and over again. For example, maybe new clients often have the same questions and every time you bring a new one on you find yourself having to re-write this huge long email. Instead of spending 30 minutes to draft the email all over again, used canned responses in Gmail. This essentially lets you create an email template that you can just insert than update any information as needed. Another question to ask yourself is, “Is there an online tool out there that can help automate this process?”

For example, if you’re trying to pick a time for client calls and find yourself spending lots of time emailing back and forth trying to coordinate a time, maybe you just set up a link on Calendly or ScheduleOnce that allows clients to pick a time based on your availability and then it will automatically book it into both of your calendars. Again, it’s about working smarter, not harder to be more productive.

And finally, consider, “Is there anything that needs a systemized process?”

For example, if you’re taking a new client through how to update their website that you created, instead of getting on a call with them for an hour every time, maybe you create a training video that you can share with clients. This systemized process will save you a ton of time.


Leverage the power of technology with automation, use templates when you can and systemize different repetitive tasks to save you time.


Complete an End of Day Reflection

The only way we can continue to improve our productivity is with awareness. At the end of each day reflect on:

  • What did I accomplish? What worked well today?

  • What tasks didn’t get accomplished today that I wanted to get done? Where can I improve tomorrow?

We all work differently but this end of day reflection will help you uncover how you work best.


Fully disconnect once you’re done for the day

An important part of being productive is fully immersing yourself in the task at hand. That means singular focus and not the “one foot in one foot out” approach. So, once you’re done work for the day fully disconnect.

Don’t check work emails. Don’t think about work.


This is critical for digital nomads.

Oftentimes when someone is starting to work remotely for their very first time there will be this sense that they need to be working all the time.


Your mind needs time to rest and recharge to stay productive so it’s important you disconnect fully from work once you’ve finished. After all, the best perk of this digital nomad lifestyle is being able to explore different countries around the world - so don’t miss out on that.


If you’re good at counting you may realize that we’re over 10 powerful productivity hacks by now, but that’s OK. Since we just covered a lot, here’s a quick summary on how to increase your productivity as a digital nomad and remote worker:

  1. Get a good nights sleep

  2. Create a powerful morning routine

  3. Batch tasks

  4. Create daily themes

  5. Only have one item on your to-do list (make this the highest impact task)

  6. Create a “done” list (rather the anti-to-do list)

  7. Work when and where you work best

  8. Eliminate distractions by putting your phone on do not disturb (Again you may use a progressive approach to build up to this)

  9. Take breaks to manage your energy

  10. Streamline, sutomate and create a systemized process for repetitive tasks

  11. Complete an end of day reflection to bring awareness to how you’re doing with your productivity

  12. Fully disconnect once you’re done for the day



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