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Remote Work Hacks to stay Productive in 2021

November 29, 2021

Between constant interruptions, miscommunications, focus-annihilating background voices, and the co-inhibitors having absolutely zero ideas what remote working means, I continuously found myself in a bit of a pickle trying to zero down on my daily tasks, let alone to do something out of the ordinary. So, in the spirit of “making no excuses,” I eventually developed a personal rock-solid remote work hacks list after months of trial and error, and I’m going to share it with you.

Remote work best practices

Working from the house’s comfort or private rental space has always been around, a working ritual many have adapted. I started remote working way before the pandemic when so many served me questioning looks at that time, but I was absolutely feeling it; to the point that getting cubed up in an office didn’t seem viable for me anymore.

Even with all its perks, it wasn’t always sunshine and lollipops, and at times I found myself in a love-hate situation. You see, when you set up in your room and start to doing work remotely, tons of things could go wrong…. And believe me when I say it DOES!

However, my couple of years of experience working in my own preferred confinement blessed me with some hot-takes on how others can bypass the tyranny that I went through to get to where I am now, both faster and safer. So, without further ado, here are some remote work hacks that I and my kind found most essential for those who want or have to leave their offices and set up camp in their own private quarters.

Sticking to a Schedule

Many move this one to the third or fourth spot, but it’s always been the first priority for me. See, without a detailed and concise schedule, nothing goes by, even setting up the workspace, because having a routine impacts everything.

Other than that, sticking to a schedule boosts productivity; it gives you energy, decreases stress, and grants a perspective into how to conquer daily tasks. It took me a while, but after figuring out the most productive hours of the day, I started to put the pieces around it, so I’m always up with the tasks without having to do crazy late shifts or having no time for breaks or physical exercise. After a while, everything seemed to fall into order and work seamlessly around these quintessential hours. I was able to micro-manage tasks, attend to personal matters, establish fixed working periods and leisure times - all in an orderly fashion (same feeling as working in an office). 

Establish Your Work Space

After organizing my mind, the first item on the remote work hacks list was to determine where I want to set up: it was time to arrange the workspace. This, by all means, doesn’t have to be a luxury or professional cubical with tons of room for tools, whiteboards, or other types of equipment; it just has to fit you and your needs. Thus, even the kitchen table will do if you have the power to claim it in your name, maintain it, and put up with everything’s that going on around it. Although this isn’t what happened to me, I grudgingly watched my little sister work her charm and stick her flag on top of our dining table, reminiscent of our warrior Persian heritage.

Anyway, other options for a workspace are acceptable as well: a converted garage space, the barely-used spare room, the damp attic, or even the dusty basement, whichever best serves you.

Personally, I established a bond with my room and quickly turned it into my own personal space where I felt determined, focused, and free. 

The adjacent two-meter-high window to the left and my comfortable bed to the right of my work desk perfectly complimented my style while acted as natural barriers for anyone to snoop up on my screen.

Whenever I moved to my desk, I felt energized to do something great, and after a while, it became a habit which my prone-to-laziness body didn’t confuse with the relaxing aroma of the bed or the couch; in simpler words put, I never worked from my couch or bed.

Optimize This Workspace 

Another component of remote work hacks boils down to adjusting the workspace to your optimal settings, which means nothing gets lost, minimal distractions, and a space that screams productivity, motivation, and concentration. 

Keep the workspace clean and clutter-free. This helps with boosting productivity and preventing irrelevant stuff from disrupting your Schedule. Gathered from a survey, around 77% of the respondents claimed that having a pile of distracting extras ruins their concentration and is counter-productive. 

How you go about optimizing the workspace is entirely up to you, and it steams from your personal style. For me, preserving the desk as clean and spacious as possible while moving second-priority tools to another desk proved to be the most ideal. I strip my desk from unnecessary notebooks and calendars, added a desk lamp, kept a charger at all times, and didn’t forget to keep the filled-up bottle of water close.

Furthermore, optimizing doesn’t only translate into having an organized desk or works surface; it also applies to having air-filtering or green plants, sitting ball chairs, mini water fountains, and any other helpful instrument. 

Plants, water fountains, pendulums, or other therapeutic tabletops have proven vastly popular and incredibly effective, so keep an eye out for them. These instruments can reduce stress, circulate positive energy, increase productivity; through air-filtering plants, fresh air can swing into your corner and change the mood. So, I recommend making a wishlist of stuff you want for your workspace.

Don’t forget about the chairs and desks ergonomic design, though. Spending countless hours in front of a poorly placed screen when the chair does nothing other than twist the back-formation into pain-inducing positions not only devastates productivity but takes a huge toll on personal health.

Set Boundaries

When it comes to working in close proximity with family, friends, or roommates, you have to grow incredible patience as it’s normal for others not to take what you’re doing seriously; after all, to some people working from home still means wasting your time and it’s considered demeaning as playing video games; and as an avid gamer, I’m doubly offended.

To counter this problem, I went through the long process of giving my family the silent treatment and appearing dead-on, starring eyes on the screen to show them my determination. However, it was so long before they thought that it was nothing but a cute gesture. 

So, unwillingly as I was, I had to sit them down and talk to them, and in some cases even show them how remote working has become a significant plot twist in today’s industry scene. It took some lip-biting and immense tolerance, but in the end, I was somehow victorious, and I got them to at least not barge in when I’m busy.

I know that might be out of the question for some of you out there with young ones or goofy roommates who have just invited half of their families to bunker down with them. In these cases, I strongly recommend closing a door – or sealing off the workspace from the rest of the establishment – and hanging a “do not disturb” sign which has proven unexpectedly effective.

Take Breaks

It’s easy to get lost in the void of hyperactivity where one loses track of time and vanishes into a blackened pit; I know since I’ve been there a couple of times myself.

If you, too, have experienced such a bizarre eclipse, then I’m here to tell you it’s not healthy and definitely not productive. One of my most effective remote work hacks is stopping what you’re doing, taking off the headphones, getting off the chair, and taking a break.

Experts believe that every 90 minutes or so is the best time indicator for a break. During these breaks, do what you see the most befitting; stretching, going for a walk, talking to family and friends, listening to music, catching the newest YouTube trend, or just grabbing a bite. All are super good break materials. These activities not only rescue you from the falling-stance but also give birth to a new outlook and perspective to the task at hand; they reset the mind and body.

Find Time For Physical Exercise 

I can’t stress this enough, exercise does magic! I’m not talking about quick jogs or desk exercises; I’m focusing on a full-blown fat-burning heavy-duty routine as one of the integral components of the remote work hacks list. 

As far as physical training goes, having to go to the office fits perfectly with going to the gym, probably because gyms usually are closer to the office, the fact that you’re already out, and there’s a gym body to partner up with. On the other hand, home-workers have the tendency to refuse physical activity and ignore going to the gym all out. 

I’m here to tell you that this is not acceptable and it has to stop. Physical exercise not only keeps the body and the mind healthy sharp as a needle, but it also boosts work-effectiveness, pumps concentration, reduces work-related stress and pressure, strengthens inner-team communications, and eventually results in an increase in productivity. Gyms are also great places in this eon of a pandemic to meet same-fated white-collars who are left with a considerable amount of free time and body fat to burn.

Other arrangements suited my timetable, however. I shifted my attention from going to the gym to friendly late-night in-door soccer matches with some of my friends, which eventually the word got out to my colleagues, and now I have my previous desk-buddy guarding our team’s goal.

I’m not saying that this is the path to take; by any means, no. I’m trying to professionally point out that you have to figure out the physical activity that hypes you to get away from the workspace, pack some sneakers, and do some workouts.

Keep an Open Line of Communication With Friends, Family, and Co-workers

This is one of the remote work hacks I personally take exceptionally seriously.

Working from home or any other non-office space can quickly turn into a horrifying and lonesome affair that rubs you from the simple joy of communicating and chatting with others; at least, that’s what I felt for a short period.

The sheer concentration and sense of enjoyment that I received from not paying attention to my beloved ones and paying mind only to my work schedule were catastrophic and unintentional. In my head, I couldn’t separate work from family/friends and witnessed them get hurt because of my actions.

As a result, I began to cut off my unhealthy mental connection to the tasks at hand from time to time and instead invested it in renewing my relationship with my girlfriend, helping out my family with the chores, fixing my dad’s laptop’s internet problem, helping my mom to download her favorite TV show, and surprised my sister with the occasional slice of pizza. Long story short, working from home doesn’t equal working in utter isolation.

Respect the catch-ups, make time for people you care for, be a part of their lives, and enjoy mutually positive and helpful relationships.

Take Away

This list of remote work hacks goes on and on because to some extent, it’s personal preference and background. Some may find other hacks that empower them with the wisdom of becoming more influential, team-collaborating, effective, and ultimately productive remote workers. 

The point here is that control the remote thing the way you want to. It all comes down to you, even if it means renting a dedicated workspace somewhere else, and somewhere clean of the pandemic naturally. Either way, distant working is the new norm and it’s here to stay.

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