How do you stay on task?

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

Interview with Igor Kulman, a software engineer building iOS apps remotely

Remote work requires strong will and a lot of discipline. I think it is not for everyone. I never had problems staying on task and always had a strong work ethic.

What really helps me working remotely is establishing a routine. Getting up at the same time every day, working the same hours and taking breaks.

Igor converted a part-time contract into a full-time remote software engineering job—learn how he did it and his tips for working remotely.

Read full interview from Interview with Igor Kulman, a software engineer building iOS apps remotely.


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 Shauna, founder and business consultant specializing in remote work

I really think it has a lot to do with understanding when, where, and how you can perform and concentrate at your best.

Setting goals and SMART CAR goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely, commitment, accountability, and reward) and consistently planning & measuring yourself and your output is important. I also set monthly, weekly, and daily goals and a list of tasks that I re-prioritise as needed.

Shauna is a consultant that guides companies in thriving while remote—see her advice for staying grounded as a remote worker.

Read full interview from Interview with Shauna, founder and business consultant specializing in remote work.


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 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 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.

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


Interview with Ascencia, a content marketer, and avid gig economy professional

I'm a creature of habit. Once I discovered the rhythm that works for me, it's easy just to do the work. Most of my work is routine too (content production), so that helps.

I get bored with something pretty fast, but I'm not too good with changes either. So being a freelancer in the content marketing space works for me, since content production is a routine work, but different with each client. There are rarely 'surprises.'

Usually, at the beginning of the week, I already know what I will be doing during that week. Sometimes if there's too much, I'll make a to-do list, and tackle the tasks one by one as I go through it.

I already have an estimate of the time each task will take, schedule them into my week. By doing this, I can do the actual work mindfully, without thinking about the other tasks.

A forgotten two-year-old Upwork account allowed Ascencia to become a content marketer—see how the gig economy has offered her an alternative path to success.

Read full interview from Interview with Ascencia, a content marketer, and avid gig economy professional.


Interview with Laura, a communications specialist and travel writer by night

Again, Slackbot reminds me of what I need to do. But WebDevStudios also relies on project management software like Trello and Basecamp to keep things organized.

I rely on Google Sheets in Google Drive to keep my content organized and insert deadlines. I use these sheets for our company editorial calendar as well as for the freelance content I publish on the side.

Laura Coronado discusses her method for juggling her career as a communications specialist by day and her side hustle as a freelance travel writer by night.

Read full interview from Interview with Laura, a communications specialist and travel writer by night.

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