How do you stay on task?

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

Interview with Bennah, a remote ESL teacher that teaches kids English all over the world

Since the time I have committed with my home based job is from 5:30 pm onwards as of the moment, some of my tricks are turning on the computer and my cellphone as well, my QQ account is connected to my phone too, so if ever I am not in front of my computer I can still read the Admins messages.

Another tip is being patient with waiting for the students or with dealing with their attitudes since they are kids and they have different moods. Some are really grumpy during the class, and would shout whenever you ask questions, so really need to have patience in dealing with them.

Sometimes I am so stressed so I would definitely just get a deep breath and continue with what I am doing.

Bennah is an ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher who teaches students from all around the world while working from home.

Read full interview from Interview with Bennah, a remote ESL teacher that teaches kids English all over the world.


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 Hannah, a freelance writer that travels the world

As easy as it is to get off track, it can be difficult to get back on track. This is where it can be a good idea to make a nice list of priorities.

Feeling organized can do wonders to calm you down. The sooner you start to accomplish your tasks again, the better. Action is a lot better than overthinking. If you’re behind, you don’t want to dwell on that fact—it just wastes time. Accept it and move on.

The only way to get back on track is to jump back into work.

Hannah is a freelancer writer and social media manager that travels the world while working remotely. Read her interview to learn how she works.

Read full interview from Interview with Hannah, a freelance writer that travels the world.


Interview with Elizabeth, a graphic designer and art director

The last thing I do before I give up for the day is to organise myself for the next day. I think about what projects moved to final during the day, what needs immediate attention and then portion out the rest of the coming day.

Sometimes my next-day list is a bit aspirational, but it’s a good starting point for the next morning. I keep this list in my notebook on my desk and always within my line of sight.

But, that’s where the analogue fun ends. I’ve recently - shall we say - “enhanced” my desk set-up and have cranked the nerd-factor up to 11. My desk features my main computer, and I have two ‘arms’ that bring my laptop and tablet within easy reach independently.

To be honest, it’s not the most social set-up, as there are four screens surrounding my head, so it’s like working in an operating theatre at times!

But, it means I can turn off notifications on my main computer and sidecar those to my tablet to keep my focus where it needs to be. I also keep communication tools on my laptop, so Slack and WhatsApp messages aren’t in my line of sight when I’m brain-deep in a project.

Elizabeth provides the ultimate list of tips for aspiring freelancers and remote workers. Check out her game-changing tools, and advice for thriving as a freelancer.

Read full interview from Interview with Elizabeth, a graphic designer and art director.


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.

Read full interview from Interview with Deb, a sales copywriter who transitioned from software development.


Interview with Meryl, a digital marketer and master of home office organization

Staying on task has always come naturally to me. On the rare occasion when I can't focus or stay on task, I switch to menial things.

Meryl K. Evans is skilled at creating a home office that leads to remote work flexibility. See her advice for creating a successful workspace, and hear about her journey into freelancing.

Read full interview from Interview with Meryl, a digital marketer and master of home office organization.


Interview with Artur, an engineer who found purpose as an Intrapreneur

Procrastination is my mind's natural response to the lack of clarity.

My attention starts to waver when I am not sure what to do next, so the easiest decision is watching the next cat video.

After I consciously internalized this, I know that I have to keep in mind the WHY. I need to be specific about the purpose of the task that I am currently performing. Knowing what success looks like and what it will mean for the end user helps me tremendously.

That being said, I am addicted to Facebook. I barely spend time there, but I still have muscle reflex of opening a tab and typing the social networks address.

I am angry at myself a few seconds after it loads, but I don't seem to be able to shun the habit. My latest attempt to battle this is blocking the facebook domain entirely on my laptop. I have deleted the mobile app more than a year ago.

Sometimes I still procrastinate, so I always keep one to two projects on the back burner. If I really can't focus on my main task, I use another project to procrastinate and switch contexts to refresh my mind.

Artur realized entrepreneurship wasn't for him—see how he carves out his creativity and purpose as a remote Intrapreneur at Automattic.

Read full interview from Interview with Artur, an engineer who found purpose as an Intrapreneur.


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.

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Interview with Nathan and Connor, owners of Freeeup

We both have our own ways of staying organized and keeping the ship moving forward. Given that most of Nate’s time is spent on interviews, recordings, and phone calls, Google Calendar serves as his main tool for keeping his day on task and moving forward.

On my end, I spend more time working on different growth projects within the business.

I plan out my day the night before to make sure that I allocate enough time to each project that I’m working on. I then follow that game plan each day while allowing for some adjustments when needed.

Thinking of creating your own remote startup? See how Nathan and Connor built a successful and effective remote team from scratch.

Read full interview from Interview with Nathan and Connor, owners of Freeeup.


Interview with John, a web developer who works from home

This is a great question. And I think it's something everybody struggles with from time to time, whether they work remotely or in an office.

For me, it goes back to the calendar. If I have the day mapped out ahead of time, I tend to stay on task a lot better.

When I don't have something scheduled for the day, I often get overwhelmed by the possibilities. I'll look at the blank slate and start thinking about the 1,000 projects or tasks that I keep saying I'll get to one day, but never really do.

Computer notifications are a big distraction for me. When it's time for me to be head-down on a task or project, it's key that I close any and all tabs that will make a sound or flash if something new comes in - email, Facebook, Twitter, et cetera. I'll set my status in Slack to "Do Not Disturb" and turn off notifications on my Mac.

Then, as the final step, I'll put on some low music. I have a playlist of 300 or so songs that I put on repeat. It's music that I know extremely well. I can't play new music because I find myself trying to "listen" to the music. The music for me needs to be like a soundtrack for my day. It's there in the background, but I'm just barely noticing it.

John is a web developer running a mini-agency inside a larger WordPress agency - learn how calendar management and establishing boundaries have helped him boost his productivity.

Read full interview from Interview with John, a web developer who works from home.

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