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My 3 Simple Tips For Being A Productive Remote Developer

moimikey profile image Michael Scott Hertzberg Updated on ・2 min read

When I started at my company Fusion Media Group, I had to make a personal decision 8-months in, to move out of state in order to afford to take care of my mom. It was a big responsibility to take on, but I did it. My company accepted my request to go remote full-time and my journey working from home began.

I initially thought it would be difficult to get adjusted, but I quickly noticed that I kept waking up at the same time that I normally did, as if I were still going to the office. I quickly learned that this was a key takeaway that helped maintain my productivity.

Start Early

When I woke up and started my day early, using time that was spent commuting, immediately went toward starting work quicker (it may have also been the overall feel-good sensation of it being quiet mornings that affect my mind in a positive way.) A fair amount of my immediate colleagues are in Budapest 🇭🇺, so getting extra time in the morning also meant getting extra time with my overseas colleagues. Between the two, I felt a lot more productive using my morning energy to put toward reading emails and writing code than sitting on the train.

Be Present

At my company, if you're on Slack, you've more than likely seen my name in a channel. It's because I'm active. I ensure that I'm as communicative as possible with people, but I'm also just present. An unfortunate side effect of being a remote employee, is the potential for getting lost amongst the people who are physically at your office. If you ensure that you're present and people know that you're there, you can avoid falling through the cracks.

Whenever I can or have a reason to, I try to visit my office. Something that I took the liberty of doing recently was organizing our company Hackathon. Not only was it something that I was passionate about wanting to do, but it also gave me a reason to go back to the office and see my colleagues again. I found it to be a big boost in my own morale, but also my colleagues' morale that I had a reason to visit, and wanting to do something inclusive.

Stay "In The Know"

I do my absolute best to stay "in the know" with everything in my field. I do this by subscribing to a lot of feeds and keyword digests (ie. #JavaScript on Medium). I read a lot, and I practice a lot. Ensuring that I'm at the top of my game helps to maintain my productivity as a developer, in general, but also helps when you have a reason to post in Slack, like an interesting article.


I hope these 3 simple tips provide food for thought on how you can increase your own productivity as a remote developer. What are some of your productivity tips?

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Michael Scott Hertzberg

@moimikey

10+ years of web technologies experience. from geocities and angelfire, to realtime graphql data, rendered with react to an OLED connected to a raspberry pi!

Discussion

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I can add another one: always use the timer. The first reason is to know when to stop. You want to take a rest sometimes. :) The second reason is to prove to yourself, that you're actually working full time, even if some people have doubts (and they will). Even if you never show that timer to anyone but yourself, you will be much calmer and less stressed. I work remotely 30-40% of the time, and I know that helps. :)

 

I can agree. It's very good practice to time-box yourself in both personal and professional life. The Pomodoro technique, in my opinion, is an excellent example.

 

Great tips, here are some additional ones:

Have a very specific to-do list. It's easy to forget some things that you need to do during the day if you don't have some sort of to-do list. The whole GTD methodology is based around this. Get things out of your head on the paper. That way you'll always know exactly what you should be doing next.

Have some sort of time blocking software on all your devices. If you need something done quickly, things like Twitter, Reddit and Facebook can be a total distraction. Set specific time blocks from the time you start working to the end time. I’d even say have it on hardcore mode so you can’t possibly turn it off 😉

Have clear on\off times. For instance, at 9 o’clock you start your workday and at 5 o’clock you stop working. Maintaining your time schedule helps you stay in that routine.

Get a really dedicated space. If you work remotely, it's probably not the best idea to work from your dining room table and have kids running around. It can be really distracting and decrease your productivity. So, get yourself a dedicated place where no one will prevent you from concentrating on the work at hand.

Dress nicely in the mornings. If you work remotely, dressing nicely in the morning is a good way to feel like it’s a business day, as you need to get stuff done.

Have a commute time. This one might sound strange, but the thing here is to use your commute to sort of wake up your brain. For example, I like to watch some interesting conference talk during my commute or sketch an idea for a blog post.

I've summed up some other tips in one of my recent blog posts: Remote work: Benefits and Challenges, Tips for Web Developers