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Remote work productivity is not an easy thing to achieve, but taking the time to set up each day in your favor makes it easier.  I asked 8 digital nomads about their daily schedules and how they stay productive and this is what they said.

 

Remote work is not easy, it not only requires flexibility but also tremendous discipline and not everyone is cut out for it.  After all, being able to work from wherever is awesome, but if you can’t be productive while doing it then you’re going to have a bad time.

With this in mind, I reached out to some digital nomads and freelancers to learn about their daily routines.  I was searching for any similarities that might transcend professions and represent some of the best practices surrounding remote work productivity.

And guess what?  I struck gold.  There were more than a few similarities in their responses and I was glad to see that my personal routine shared most of them.

 

My Routine

Before we get into the responses, I thought it was appropriate for me to share my typical routine so we can compare it with the others when it comes to remote work productivity.  I usually maintain regular working hours, meaning I try and work 9-5.  I aim to start each day with some meditation and writing but once I have a cup of coffee in my hand it’s go time (shoutout to productivity anchors!).  Mornings are my most productive time so I try and dedicate them to tasks that require a lot of focus and thought like writing content.  I take a break around lunch and hit the gym or grab a nap and then do some less-intensive tasks like managing ads, outreach, or social media in the afternoon.  I try and end every day by writing down what I want to accomplish tomorrow - I don’t always get to check everything off the list but I find just the act of writing things down is a great way to do short-term planning.

If I ever get stuck or feel unmotivated, I have a list of stuff I do like that helps refresh and reset my focus.

Now, let’s see what the others have to say!

Note: The following are excerpts from longer responses, if you’d like to view them in their entirety scroll down or click here.

 

The Digital Nomads

Emanuele Siracusa

I am an Italian freelance photographer with a passion for travel and exploration. I’m currently based in the Lisbon’s region, in Portugal, but I'm location independent and travel frequently.

 Website | Instagram | Facebook


remote work productivity james clark

James Clark

I am a long term wanderer from Melbourne, Australia. That is to say that I’m from Melbourne when filling out official forms, though I have been of no fixed address for years.  I’m what’s known as a location independent entrepreneur (AKA a digital nomad), living the work and travel lifestyle since 2003.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 


niall remote work productivity

Niall Doherty

I write books, build websites, and help people get started working online.  I spent 44 months traveling around the world without flying. I now live in Berlin.

Website


alex mathers remote work productivity

Alex Mathers

I am an illustrator and writer, currently based in London, UK.  I started out studying Geography, then Real Estate, before eventually turning to creating images, writing, and helping others make the most of their skills and talents by sharing with them what I’ve learnt, through plenty of failures, trial and error.

Website


craig linda remote work productibity

Hi, we’re Craig and Linda, the two Kiwis behind the Indie Travel Podcast. Since February 2006 we’ve been travelling around the world.

Website


caz craig remote work productivity

We’re Caz and Craig Makepeace, a married couple from the Central Coast of Australia, but we like to call the world our home.  We’re serial travel addicts and have lived in 5 countries and had adventures through 52.

Website | Facebook

How to Improve Your Remote Work Productivity

Have at Least a Loose Routine

Yes, even those of us fortunate enough to work from home have routines, even if it means waking up at noon or working until 3am.  Having at least a semblance of a routine when you’re working remotely can help keep you focused and productive because you’re able to structure your day similarly no matter where you are.

 

Craig and Linda:

I've realised that I work best in 90-minute periods, so I work for an hour and a half before taking a short break. After three of these periods it's time for a long lunch, and I have two more sessions in the afternoon.

 

Caz and Craig:

I do have a morning routine that stays the same daily. It sets me up for the day ahead and I can't function properly without it. I rise between 5 and 6 am. I spend the first hour of the day meditating, reading an empowering book, journaling, and having a morning tonic tea. My day then begins with breakfast and spending time with my children. Since the first two hours after rising are the most productive, I like to spend this time producing content. The rest of the day depends on what i have scheduled in regards to travel. If I work of an evening, it tends to be more admin, social media and editing, which does not require much brain function.

 

Niall:

I have a routine/checklist I run through every morning.

 

Recognize Your Most Productive Times

Not all work schedules are created equally.  Most people have a window of time where they are the most productive and identifying that will allow you to allocate all of your focus towards a task.

 

Alex:

I just do stuff that has higher priority first, work as much as I can, get up as early as I can, and add some structure through a to-do list that gets regularly updated and edited.

 

James:

I avoid meetings in the morning as I am most productive in the AM.

 

Stay Active

This is a huge one for me, it not only keeps me in shape but plays a huge role in how I feel and perform mentally.  I’ve found that even just a quick workout can transform my mood from negative to positive.

 

Emanuele:

When I'm not on assignments I usually go to gym in the morning.

 

Niall:

[At 7am, I’m] out the door to stretch and exercise at the gym or in the park.

 

Avoid Overworking Yourself

As a freelancer or digital nomad, it’s far too easy to burn the candle at both ends when you don’t have the ‘hard stop’ that occurs when you leave a physical office.  Setting aside time for yourself is not only crucial to staying productive, but also to staying sane.  Pulling an all nighter is acceptable once in awhile, but stepping back from the keyboard and doing something unrelated is an incredibly beneficial habit to get into.

 

Niall:

Saturdays I don't put any pressure on myself to do anything. That's my one true day to let loose and be an irresponsible slob. (Though I still sometimes work on Saturdays if I feel like it.) Sundays I try rest up a bit and get organized for the week.

 

James:

It is also not unusual for me to have Tuesday afternoon off. My hours are flexible, so I don't feel guilty for taking time off or working odd hours.

 

Plan Ahead

Remember that to-do list that I make at the end of every day? Not only does it help me stay organized, but checking items off as I complete them is a great feeling.  The best part is that you can put any task on there regardless of size.

 

Alex:

I also stay focused on the long term through writing down my goals whenever I remember to.

 

Niall:

I try batch all my Skype calls on Wednesdays, so that's usually a bit all over the place. Last Wednesday, for example, I had five 30-minute Skype calls scattered throughout the day. Between the calls I try get a bunch of quick and easy tasks checked off my to-do list. Nothing that requires prolonged focus or deep thought.

 

Know How to Reset

Everyone has times where they just don’t feel motivated or focused and finding a way to reset is crucial to staying productive throughout the day.

 

Emanuele:

In the afternoon I try to spend an hour (sometimes more) to stimulate my creativity: this involves going to my recent bookmark list, indulging in reading, watching interesting videos on YouTube, checking other people's work, or jotting down ideas for (or progressing in) personal projects.

 

James:

I usually have a short siesta in the afternoon, where I go home and rest for a while.

 

Winding Down

These are far from the only ways to master remote work productivity when you're operating from home or the road.  However, if you're struggling to find your rhythm or just looking for a way to be more productive, these are a great place to start.  Also, if you have a tip that works for you we'd love to hear it so make sure to mention it in the comments!


The Full Responses

Emanuele Siracusa

When I'm not on assignments I usually go to gym in the morning. When I'm back home I sit at the computer and try to tackle all or most of the tasks I've got in my to do list (ie. editing pictures, replying to emails and messages, etc.) In the afternoon I try to spend an hour (sometimes more) to stimulate my creativity: this involves going to my recent bookmark list, indulging in reading, watching interesting videos on YouTube, checking other people's work, or jotting down ideas for (or progressing in) personal projects. I try to finish at a certain time in the evening, but like many freelancers, depending on the workload and the mood of the day, I may sit at the computer for more work after dinner."

 

James Clark

I don't use an alarm clock so I get up when I wake up, which is anywhere between 6 and 8. After a shower and breakfast I usually work in a cafe in the morning. I avoid meetings in the morning as I am most productive in the AM.

I have lunch around 12 and then go to another cafe in the afternoon to work. Living in the tropics I usually have a short siesta in the afternoon, where I go home and rest for a while. I then work at home or go to another cafe. Sometimes I will have meetups with people in the afternoon, so I will do some work in the evening if I have nothing planned.

I don't really have weekends so it is not unusual for me to work on a Saturday night [http://www.nomadicnotes.com/work-and-travel/saturday-nights-alright-for-writing/]. It is also not unusual for me to have Tuesday afternoon off. My hours are flexible, so I don't feel guilty for taking time off or working odd hours.

 

Niall Doherty

When I'm in a solid routine, my Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday schedule is as follows:

6:45 Wake up.

7:00 Out the door to stretch and exercise at the gym or in the park.

7:45 Chunk of time for breakfast, reading, shower, getting organized for the day. I have a routine/checklist I run through every morning.

9:30 Start first work session. I usually work from home, currently a rented apartment in Berlin.

12:00 Nap! I usually set a countdown timer for 105 minutes, aiming to be asleep for 90 minutes of that (one full sleep cycle).

14:00 Lunch, usually at home. I avoid social lunches because I find it's difficult for me to flip back to work-mode afterwards.

14:30 Start second work session.

18:00 Get away from the computer, head outside and do something social so I don't turn into a robot.

23:00 I try to get to bed by this time and read for a bit. Ideally I'll be asleep by midnight.

That's the ideal. The reality is always a bit messier, but so long as I'm at about 80% adherence I'm happy enough.

I try batch all my Skype calls on Wednesdays, so that's usually a bit all over the place. Last Wednesday, for example, I had five 30-minute Skype calls scattered throughout the day. Between the calls I try get a bunch of quick and easy tasks checked off my to-do list. Nothing that requires prolonged focus or deep thought.

Saturdays I don't put any pressure on myself to do anything. That's my one true day to let loose and be an irresponsible slob. (Though I still sometimes work on Saturdays if I feel like it.) Sundays I try rest up a bit and get organized for the week.

When I'm on the road – like I was for most of July, spending 2 weeks in Berlin, a week in Ireland, and a week in Amsterdam – everything tends to fall apart and it's always a bit of juggling act. Inevitably I let some balls drop but do my best to keep the important ones in the air.

 

Alex Mathers

I don't have an email routine! I'm awful with email. Most of my days are chaos when it comes to scheduling. I just do stuff that has higher priority first, work as much as I can, get up as early as I can, and add some structure through a to-do list that gets regularly updated and edited. I also stay focused on the long term through writing down my goals whenever I remember to.

 

Craig and Linda Martin

Since we travel full-time, my day varies depending on whether we are on the road or stopped for a while. Right now, we're looking after a property in Panama and I've got a pretty good routine. I get up at 7am (which is ridiculously late according to the locals, who get up before sunrise) and spend an hour or so eating breakfast, reading the news, feeding the dogs and generally getting ready to start the day!

 

Then I head over to the second house on the property where my computer is set up, and get down to business. I've realised that I work best in 90-minute periods, so I work for an hour and a half before taking a short break. After three of these periods it's time for a long lunch, and I have two more sessions in the afternoon. I often work late or finish early depending on what's on and how much energy I have, but I always try to take the dogs out around 5pm.

 

Caz & Craig

It's hard to have an average work day structure for me as we travel so much with our kids. Every day is different and requires a lot of flexibility. But, I do have a morning routine that stays the same daily. It sets me up for the day ahead and I can't function properly without it. I rise between 5 and 6 am. I spend the first hour of the day meditating, reading an empowering book, journaling, and having a morning tonic tea. My day then begins with breakfast and spending time with my children. Since the first two hours after rising are the most productive, I like to spend this time producing content. The rest of the day depends on what i have scheduled in regards to travel. If I work of an evening, it tends to be more admin, social media and editing, which does not require much brain function. I finish the day with a chamomile tea and 15 minutes of reading a positive book. I like to feed my subconscious mind with what I want to create as I slip into sleep.