How do you stay on task?

Question: How do you stay on task? Read answers from remote workers to learn.

Interview with John, a full-stack web developer who works remotely

Have a Trello board, if your employers don't have one for you, make one yourself. It will really help you stay on track. Don't open any type of social media or news site.

Sleep a decent amount, you won't be productive while sleep deprived, I would know, I tried.

John works remotely while using the latest web development technologies, learn how he works by reading his interview.

Read full interview from Interview with John, a full-stack web developer who works remotely.


Interview with Scott about working remotely for 20 years

I write most everything down.

Using things like Evernote (for unstructured text and document scans), Google Drive (tabular data and form-based content) and Wunderlist (for task lists) keeps the clutter out of my brain and frees it up for more creative pursuits.

As a web designer and developer, I need swaths of time in flow to get good work done. When it’s time to get to it, I set my instant messenger on Do Not Disturb, put on some ambient music that won’t distract me too much (Brain.fm is awesome for this) and get the task done.

If I have something particularly finite yet onerous to do, I relocate to another place, like a coffee shop, and commit to not getting back up until the job is done.

Scott is a designer and developer that's been working remotely since 1998, read his interview to learn how he's been successful

Read full interview from Interview with Scott about working remotely for 20 years.


Interview with Nikita, an entrepreneur building a website to learn anything

Aside from my highly streamlined workflow of where my ideas/tasks go and how I can start working on the one by one.

Practicing mindfulness throughout my day is one of the best returns on investments I made in life.

I use Oak app and often listen to sounds of fireplace or rain when working. It helps me keep focus and minimizes distractions.

Nikita is an entrepreneur working on his startup while optimizing his productivity—learn how he organizes his life and work to maximize happiness

Read full interview from Interview with Nikita, an entrepreneur building a website to learn anything.


Interview with Ayesha, a freelance writer that gained early clients through her blog

If you are working remotely, then being productive is crucial. It’s a non-negotiable. Some of my productivity tips and tricks are:

  • I’m a list person. I have a list for everything. Work. Grocery. Things to do. Things I wish I could do. Lists help me stay organized. I make a to-do list every night for the next day. In the morning, after breakfast, I decide how much time I should give to each task. I try to finish each task within my allotted time limit. I cross out all the tasks I finish. That gives you some satisfaction and you move on to the next one instantly.

  • I treat myself almost daily. If I finish all this work on time, then I spend one hour doing whatever I feel like doing. It could be watching Netflix. Going out with friends. Or even baking something special.

  • I cut myself from the world when I’m working. Unless a task requires me to communicate with my client, I put my phone outside my work area. That way I won’t feel like checking on my messages every few minutes. I also sometimes turn off the Wi-Fi on my cell.

  • Recently, I have started listening to podcasts. When I am cooking or doing something that requires little attention, I listen to empowering podcasts. I feel that sets my day for productivity. There’s so much information in podcasts and you listen to these amazing people who have achieved so much in life.

Ayesha is a freelance content writer—learn how she made the leap to remote work while building her blog and raising her family

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Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager

This one may sound a little offbeat, but finding a good music live stream on YouTube always helps me keep productivity high.

I have noticed that I write a lot faster and sharper when I am listening to music. It helps me to focus and concentrate more on the content rather than working quietly or with the television on.

I also like to keep a real agenda to keep track of my work for the week. I have noticed that I do a lot better when I can write down my to-do list and check things off. Not only does it give me a sense of accomplishment, but I immediately know what needs to be done first.

I also make a point not to check email until I complete the assignment. If I do not do this, it is easy for me to become side-tracked and handle something else before I am done with the job I initially started on.

Chanell is a freelance writer working from Atlanta that writes about business management tips and video game entertainment threads.

Read full interview from Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager.


Interview with Adam, a UX engineer building his own consulting company

I know people use tools like pomodoro or RescueTime but I've never found that cadence-based routine to be particularly useful.

My mind doesn't work in perfectly segmented tasks, and I find the times I am hyper-focused and in a state of flow that I don't want to take time off.

The ramp up time is simply too large to risk breaking my focus simply because a timer on my browser told me to stop.

Instead, I just work very organically in terms of rest vs work time. I've never had a problem with reaching my deliverables so I feel like the old saying of "do what works" applies here.

On top of that, just being healthy: eat right, exercise, get enough sleep. That ensures I am performing at my best each and every day.

Learn how Adam started working remotely from a cold-email on Hacker News, to how he's using a local co-working space to grow his business.

Read full interview from Interview with Adam, a UX engineer building his own consulting company.


Interview with Deb, a sales copywriter who transitioned from software development

Here are my top productivity tips and tricks:

  • Go for a morning walk and do some freehand exercises at least 5 out of 7 days. Even if I wake up late, I make it a point to stick to this routine as it helps me feel fit and positive about myself, no matter how lousy the previous day was.
  • Plan for the week ahead every Sunday night and try to stick to the plan. Even a rough plan helps keep me on track.
  • Make it clear to my family and friends that I must not be disturbed when I am working unless it is a dire emergency.
  • Turn off all social media notifications on my phone. When I have to meet a deadline, I put my phone in airplane mode.
  • Work to music playing in the background. Here are some of my favourite tracks:
  • Take a nap in the afternoon. Since a typical work week is between 35 to 50 hours (depending upon project pressure), I make it a point to have an afternoon siesta for 45-60 mins. It helps me recharge my batteries during the day and plunge back into work 15 mins after waking up.
  • Go for a short walk in the evening. Just before or after the sun sets, I step out of my house and take a stroll in a park nearby. This is different from my morning walks, which are typically high speed and intense. My evening walk is at a slower pace and I do it to relax.
  • Try and schedule at least one day in a week to de-stress completely. When I am drowned in work, this typically does not happen, but even if I can’t make it one full day, I make it a point to block at least 5-6 hours of “me” time. I use this time to meet friends/family, catch up on a novel, go watch a movie. Anything to de-stress completely.
  • Make it a point to take a 2-day break at least once in 2 months. There are some great guest houses and B&B’s in my city, so for a couple of days I go out with family for a break. I am not able to make it a leisure break all the time, so I either carry my wifi router or ensure that the guest house/B&B has a stable Wifi connection
  • Take a 7-10 day vacation once every 5 or 6 months. What’s the point of freelancing if you can’t indulge your passions? Mine is traveling. I make it a point to go for a 7-10 day break at least twice a year. A confession – last week, I took 4 such breaks 😊)

Deb made the jump from full-time software developer to freelance sales copywriter—learn how he made the transition.

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Interview with Jenna, a freelance writer who works remotely to help manage her health

  • I try to avoid multitasking or working hungry.
  • I keep my phone on silent. If I find myself getting distracted by it I’ll put it upside down so I don’t see notifications. I also make sure that notifications don’t get sent to my computer.
  • I’ve trained myself to not go on social media constantly anymore; It’s such a time sink. I use it sometimes to get ideas, but I allot time specifically for that purpose instead of scrolling endlessly through my feed.
  • Acknowledging when I need a break. Scheduling breaks, too, so I get them no matter what, and not trying to do things all in one sitting. Giving ideas time to breathe is so important!
  • I give myself early deadlines a lot to ensure I finish things early, and to put pressure on myself. I might even turn it into a game where I’m seeing how many words I can get out in 2 hours or something like that.
  • I like to keep a running list that I can add things to throughout the day, as I think of them, like ideas or things that I just remembered I need to take care of – basically anything that can pull me off task. Then I revisit the list later on when I have downtime.
  • Sometimes I procrastinate by working on something else that I need to do (as opposed to doing something mindless). This doesn’t keep me on task but it does help me get things done. For example, cleaning my kitchen when I’m putting off writing an article (or vice versa). It’s weird, but it works.
  • Developing more productive habits, like dealing with emails once I read them, and sticking to a schedule.

Jenna started working remotely after realizing her office job was causing health problems—now she works as a freelance writer and writes about self-improvement

Read full interview from Interview with Jenna, a freelance writer who works remotely to help manage her health.


Interview with Hanling, a data scientist that works remotely on machine learning

The most important thing is to keep in touch with the client.

We need to first figure out the goal the client want to achieve. Then during the working process, if we have any progress or have any problem difficult to solve, we'd better inform the client of it as soon as possible in stead of wasting a lot of time.

For improving productivity, I would suggest finding a silent place which makes you feel comfortable to work, and use a continuous period of time to tackle one hard problem in the work instead of using fragmented time.

Hanling started working remotely as a student and now does freelance machine learning and data analysis for clients all around the world.

Read full interview from Interview with Hanling, a data scientist that works remotely on machine learning.


Interview with Alexandra, a freelance fashion designer building her own brand

Self-discipline is most important when working remote.

Knowing that I don’t have a boss who is imposing me rules, I need to be my own boss. At the beginning wasn’t so easy because I’ve had a lot of projects that I didn’t really enjoyed but now I take just projects I’m interested in so keeping myself on task is way easier and the whole process became smoother.

Another issue I’ve had in the past was multitasking. I thought working on different smaller projects at the same time can help finish things faster but I always ended up skipping small details or mixing up the briefs.

The most important thing in order to keep myself on task is to be in the right environment, not being disturbed and taking small breaks time to time.

Alexandra is a freelance fashion designer who works remotely while traveling and building her own brand.

Read full interview from Interview with Alexandra, a freelance fashion designer building her own brand.

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