You’ve just landed from a super long flight, and are stoked to check out a new city. But first, you have some work that you need to get done to reach a fulfilling level of productiveness for the day. You grab local transportation to your accommodation; start unpacking the essentials and load up a Google search to find the nearest café or co-working space to get into the flow of a workday. However, just minutes into your search, even utilizing your Work Hard Anywhere app, you find there are little to no viable places for you to get in your normal groove; nowhere that offers a delicious cup of cold brew coffee and low-fat pastry, along with strong Wifi and generally quiet atmosphere.
When times like these arise, where you can’t get exactly what you want or think you need in order to be a successful remote worker, it’s best to have a plan B. Or, even better, make it your plan A, and anything overly hospitable an added plus to an already productive workday. The question now is, what’s your plan A?
Living as a remote worker naturally brings the kind of complications that folks with more permanent working arrangements don't really have to deal with. The gang that stay in one place get to focus on things like putting pictures up to decorate their 'working space' or choosing pot plants to add a bit of greenery. For us we're thinking about stuff like "Am I going to be able to find Wifi today so I can service my clients or do important tasks?" We accept that sometimes, we won't find that all accommodating co-working space that offers you a private office for the day, with unlimited coffee and lunch included so you don’t have to worry about scrounging up vittles mid-day and disrupting your workflow. As remote workers, we are ready to accept that our available “co-working space” is actually the hostel common area with backpackers all over the place, planning their day of adventure while you are trying to find a quiet place to conduct a conference call. Now with all that said, don't get me wrong. Whilst these conditions are less than ideal, it's not impossible to do great work while travelling abroad BUT...there is a lot to be said for using your initiative and making some extra preparations that will allow you to turn most spaces at the into your work sanctuary.
While we are dedicated to bringing you the most helpful information as it relates to all things around remote working, we’ve come up with some tips and tricks to changing any atmosphere into your work sanctuary, because you can’t always rely on your immediate location to cater to your needs and we want you to always be prepared to improvise in order to be successful and productive, and adapt to your surroundings accordingly.
Set the Atmosphere *
Part of honing in and focusing on what needs to be done is surrounding yourself with an atmosphere that matches the productivity you seek. Whether you are staying in a hostel, hotel or Airbnb, there are always ways to make sure where you’re working, is working for you as well.
· Get dressed – If you’re a visual person, staying in your PJs all day may never make you feel like you’re actually in an office, and therefore will never fully get you into the work zone of truly being productive. Take a shower, brush your teeth and change clothes to help all parts of your brain connect and get those creative juices flowing.
· Set up your makeshift office - Clean the area around your “office of the day,” plug in your computer charger, strategically place your cup of coffee to be within easy reach at all times, but most importantly, pick a place that is comfortable and away from as many distractions as possible. Keep in mind that certain aromas can also help you stay in the zone. Peppermint or cinnamon scented candles (or essential oils if you’re not just carrying around candles everywhere) stimulate your cognitive functions and give your brain a boost to increase alertness and memory, while other scents aid in the different highs and lows of a normal work day.
· Set a playlist – Part of setting the atmosphere is making sure the right music is in play. Instrumentals, calming sounds, maybe a little jazz perhaps? Whatever helps you to get in the zone, queue it up and prepare to make today your b*tch. Check out these sick Spotify playlists that will help you power through an entire workday, ups and downs included.
One of the easiest ways of getting in the swing of a workday is to organize your thoughts, documents and to-do lists. It relieves stress and increases productivity.
· Prioritize your to-dos – Before you start feeling anxious about alllll the things that just need to be done right now, take a step back and figure out which items are due in which order. Things that are due today get done first, obviously. Or, things that will take the most creative concentration, prioritize first; because let’s be honest, if you begin your day doing all of the easy tasks, you’ll be thinking of that big project that you should’ve started on already, but haven’t because you thought getting the little things out of the way first would ease the stress, but it just ended up doing the opposite. The quick tasks like responding to non-important emails, scheduling meetings, etc. can easily be pushed to the afternoon while you use your morning diving deep into the project you’re most passionate about. Workflowy is a great online to-do list maker, where you can complete tasks and see then disappear right before your eyes; somehow, seeing things completed and disappearing eases the mind to be able to focus on the next task at hand.
· Create a daily routine that works for you – What’s the first thing you do to get into the groove of work? Maybe it’s: Clean the area, set your music, start your Pomodoro timer on and get to work. If this is the case, keep it consistent so that wherever you are, you can easily snap into the regular motions of your workday without hesitation.
· Time block – An easy way to stay on track is to time block your calendar. This can vary day by day of course, but setting specific periods of time aside to what has been prioritized can be very helpful and also keep you from lingering on a task too long. Time block to tackle the creative project in the AM, and a 15 min. break in-between starting your next task. I can’t stress the importance of refreshing your mind in-between long and tedious tasks; sometimes our minds need a reboot and a new cup of tea!
Get your mind in order *
At the end of the day, our brain function is what takes the most out of us, mainly because we get distracted every other minute, lose our train of thought and spend the next 20 minutes trying to get back on track. By the finish of the work day, we’re mentally exhausted, but most of our exhaustion doesn’t come from the amount of work we’ve done, it comes from the amount of times we’ve had to fight to regain productivity.
· Regularly conduct mind strengthening exercises – If you think of your brain as just another muscle in your body, according to this personal development blog, exercising your brain is very beneficial to your cognitive muscles and can result in increased performance and concentration. A quick workout a few times a week, challenging your brain muscles in the form of memory, focus and precision. Utilizing the Pomodoro Method, you can start by focusing solely on work for 5 whole minutes, and then taking a 2-minute break. Then, try to concentrate fully for 10 minutes, with a 4-minute break in-between. The more you do this, the easier it will be to concentrate for longer periods of time, without being distracted by the little things.
· Start the day with 10- 20 minutes of meditation – Relax your mind, cast away your worries and fears, clear you mind of all thoughts and just think within. Not only does meditation help you recharge both mentally and physically, it also relieves stress and increases blood circulation to the brain. Instead of waking up every morning full of anxiety for the day to come, centre yourself so that you work out of pure talent and skill, versus fear that something will go wrong or doubt in your own abilities. Clearing your mind of all negativity also opens up doors into heightened creativity, and that’s never a bad thing.
· Eliminate distraction – While distractions can literally come from all sides, all day long, being intentional in casting as many out as possible will only help in the long run. Turn off your notifications and utilize productivity apps that will block anything outside your current task. These additional applications are perfect to stay focused and keep your attention on your current to-do. Personally, I use the Forest App most often, it’s a timer on my phone that I can set for any interval, and it grows a tree while I stay off my phone. The app stays open on my phone for the full time I’ve chosen, but if I exit out of the app, my tree dies! I have a beautiful cherry blossom blooming as we speak. Additionally, check out our top picks for noise cancelling headphones, and did you know that chewing gum could increase concentration as well? #themoreyouknow
While these are some of our best recommendations on how to create a work sanctuary wherever you are, we cannot forget to always practice self-care on all days, working or not.
ALWAYS TAKE BREAKS. It’s so important to refresh your mind and body, versus running yourself down by working long, gruelling hours every day of every week of every month. What’s the fun in working remotely if you’re always working? Take 15-20 minutes every hour or so to just stop and smell the roses (whether that’s figuratively or literally), or just RELAX and unplug into mindfulness for a second. This Timeout app helps to give regular breaks that you schedule, taking hold of your computer screen for any allotted amount of time.
DON’T FORGET TO EAT & DRINK WATER. What’s worse than spending all day working and forgetting about one of the world’s greatest creations, FOOD? A hearty breakfast is great for stamina and concentration, while afternoon tea and snacks throughout the day help keep your protein level high so you can keep those creative ideas coming. Also, do not spend your entire day drinking cup after cup of coffee. Too much coffee can actually make you tired, and dehydrated, so while you sip your Americano in the AM, be sure to counteract it with a glass of water to keep everything running smoothly (one less thing to worry about, amirite?)
Lastly, DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF. This is your career, your life, and your way of living it. There is no cookie cutter way of being the best remote worker to ever exist. It’s different for everyone, but doing this sort of trial and error strategy can quickly help you figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Personally, I am a pen and paper kind of girl, I write my lists over and over as I’m a visual person. While I do use some apps, a lot of these technological advances only confuse me more. So, do what feels right, what works the most efficiently in your opinion, and let everyone else do their own thang. We’re all just trying to live our best lives, be sure to prioritize yours.