Being Productive while Working Remotely

There’s a good number of people living the nomadic lifestyle - stay at one place for some time, work remotely from there, then move to a different place and work remotely from this new place before moving again. There’s also a good number of people working remotely from their homes or co-working space or coffee shops or a mix of all. And nowadays there’s a huge number of people working remotely because the world is fighting against an invisible enemy - covid-19. I’m a remote worker who has been working from home for almost four and a half years now.

When I landed a remote job, I was all excited about it and it seemed to be full of good things without any caveats or gotchas. As I got used to remote work, I started realizing that it’s not all roses. It’s like pretty much everything else in life - a coin with two sides.

Challenges of remote work

Most of my friends and family members ridicule remote work as something that’s not at all challenging. Of course, they have zero experience of working remotely. But after the initial honeymoon period of a few months, I started seeing the challenges involved in working remotely:

  • I’m not an introvert person. Lack of social interaction is a major problem for me.

  • There are many distractions when working from home and it takes a solid will-power to get things done. Keeping oneself motivated is not as easy as it might sound.

  • Most companies invest well in ergonomic furniture. I realized this after straining myself for some time.

  • There’s no free coffee! 😞

How do I stay productive?

Below are a few things that work for me to stay productive. Your mileage may vary!

  • I follow the widely famous Pomodoro technique and prefer to work two pomodoros (fifty minutes) without a break if I’m working on something that needs more focus. I would love to focus for more time but I’ve realized that it is both physically and mentally straining to sit for a longer period.

  • My most important productivity hack is taking a siesta! When I was in high school, I used to doze off while still sitting at my study-table on a chair (definitely a bad posture). Upon waking up I would feel so fresh that it would feel like I had slept for two or three hours. But, in fact, I used to barely sleep for ten or fifteen minutes. I would automatically wake up after that duration without any alarm. As I grew up and went to college, I would continue enjoying a siesta in the library (table + chair) if I felt really sleepy someday.

    But after starting work, it completely stopped. In my experience, it’s a stigma to be found dozing off at work even if it’s for just ten or fifteen minutes. And since I’ve always worked at open-plan offices, I started resorting to a coffee whenever I felt sleepy. Of course, my productivity wasn’t amazing. But I didn’t really realize that. Even after starting remote work, I would not prefer a siesta unless it became really difficult to focus. But since a few months, I’ve made it a point that I take a fifteen-minute nap every afternoon. After waking up, I enjoy a black coffee and get back to work.

  • For the lack of social interaction problem, I have only recently found that reaching out to family and friends is not a bad idea. Due to the ongoing pandemic, I started calling up more people and was surprised by how good it made me and the opposite person feel. I wish I had figured this one earlier. I could have avoided being a mess for months at stretch! But then better late than never. 😆

  • There’s also a one-time investment that I made in buying an ergonomic chair so that my hands and my head are well rested while I work. This is to avoid any kind of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). There was a time when I had pretty bad pain in the shoulder which disappeared after changing my posture! I suffered through this pain for a few weeks but it disappeared in less than twenty-four hours after changing the posture.

That’s it

I’m no expert at productivity and am still figuring things regularly. Lately, I’ve started keeping a to-do list more seriously (I have failed at this a few times in the past) to organize myself. However, I believe, there’s a thin line between organizing and controlling things. And I hope to not fall on the controlling side of the line because it gets ugly when we try to control something, anything.