In 2014, I became a full time remote worker.

This year, I’ve been lucky to work and travel in Paris, Malaga, Copenhagen, Casablanca, London, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Barcelona…

There’s one question that’s always in the back on my mind: How can I be as productive as possible remotely?

I’ve tried many different experiments to do more in less time this year, and I thought I would share 5 tricks (and their accompanying tools) that have become part of my routine.

remote work

5 Methods for More Productive Remote Work

1. Reduce the noise with AdBlock

Cognitive overload is an issue in our information-dense world . I work and learn more by minimizing distractions.

Since April, I’ve used AdBlock to block a total of 62,439 ads for me: I just love it. That’s blocking 300+ ads every day!

adblock

2) Save instead of click with Pocket

It’s Tuesday, 11 a.m. and  I’m working away on a project when Twitter prompts something of interest…

Oh, man, let me just click and see what it’s all about…

No, wait a minute. I’ve been in this situation hundreds of times: I’m about to click away and lose my focus.

Yes, I want to read this article. But if I read it now, I’ll lose my focus for sure!

Instead, I add the content to Pocket, and it bookmarks things on all devices  so I can then review the article at a better time to take a break.

save to pocket

3) Organize information with Feedly and Buffer

Feedly is a great home for the 141 blogs/publications I follow, and sorting them by categories makes it super easy to read and keep track of my friends, interests and work-related topics.

feedly
Once a week, I explore what is saved in Pocket or Feedly and decide whether I want to read, share and/or save those articles.

For the articles I want to share, Buffer helps me organize content to be shared multiple times, across various profiles easily:

buffer

I’m posting 23 times a day on average across all my profiles and projects.

4) Keep on learning with video and audio tricks

If Warren Buffet can still make time to read, I figure I can, too, especially when engaging in longer travel and commutes.

My colleagues love to read, they always have great book recommendations.

When I find a potentially interesting new book, I test myself by asking: Do I enjoy this topic enough to spend 5–10 hours reading about it?

Speed-watching a video at 2x speed on the topic often helps me find out.

youtube

Equally awesome, I recently got addicted to Audible.com for audio books.

I’ve found that most audio books are 6 to 9 hours long. You can listen to them at 3x speed and get through an entire book on a flight or in a single afternoon. Be advised that 3x listening requires your full attention…

When I’m reading a book on Kindle, one of my favorite things is to highlight parts I like or want to remember so that I can go back and reference them later on.

kindle highlights

5) Improve concentration with time boxing

How long should you spend on any given task?

I’m a big fan of allowing myself a given “time box,” say 20 minutes, to send an email or make progress on a project (like writing this article). This helps me spend the right amount of time on projects: no more, no less.

Timeboxing with a tool like Moosti allocates a fixed time period to each planned activity.

moosti

Also, I love to listen to music when I’m working. Very often, I hum along or simply sing out loud!

An option I have found to listen to music and stay focused is to use Focus @ Will. This neuroscience-based music service keeps a musical background that boosts concentration to help me do more.

focus at will

What’s your balance?

Getting organized helps me being either on or off and reduced my “idle time”, while still allowing me to learn new things every day.

Do you have any tips to share? I would love to hear how you get organized to get more done!

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Medium and is reprinted here with permission from Rodolphe. Sign up for his Remotive newsletter for even more remote work tips and tricks!

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Written by Rodolphe Dutel

As a Buffer Product Specialist, Rodolphe spreads the good word about Buffer to current and future users! He is also the founder at Remotive.

  • These are great tips! Thank you so much for sharing. I also worked as a telecommuter for almost 10 years for a large company. I published a booklet on Amazon to help others with best practice tips. Share if you want with others. Keep up the great work and travel safe. Cheers, Cecelia “Working from a Home Office Successfully” : http://www.outskirtspress.com/homeofficeguru

  • Love all these tips! AdBlock and Pocket are life savers!

    One of my favorite ways to focus is the Pomdoro Technique, which sounds similar to your time boxing. With Pomodoro, you single-task for 25 minutes (one “Pomodoro”) and then break for 5 and repeat the process. I get so much more done when I work that way!

    • Sola Wolcott

      huh.. this is really interesting. I tend to get into the vicious cycle of overthinking then end up not being able to start at all! I’ll be sure to try this :)

  • Great list of tricks Rodolphe. I worked remotely for years and found a lot of the same tips to keep my focus and help me do more with my time.

    Certainly agree on Feedly and Buffer. I can’t imagine how I’d get through all of the sites I love to read stuff from without the help of Feedly. I’d never be able to share all the awesome things I find from them without Buffer.

    I know it can be hard to pick which book to read next. I read a great method to prioritizing what you read. It offers some cool ways to deciding if a book is worth the time, even if you don’t utilize all the methods. https://medium.com/better-humans/the-fractal-anti-library-3-steps-to-prioritizing-your-reading-a7d66a7ad54b

    On your note about music, have you ever tried Coffitivity? It (the website or phone app) play a coffee shop background noise and they have research backing it’s ability to increase productivity over totally quiet or noisy environments. Myself and a coworker use it frequently. https://coffitivity.com/ I’ll certainly check out Focus @ Will.

    Thanks again for the insights and suggestions. I really hope to have the opportunity to work remotely again and will certainly look to try any advice I can find on getting more done with my time.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts there Ben :) Coffitivity sounds great

  • heitortsergent

    Great post Rodolphe, thanks for sharing those tricks! One more tool to the list that I can’t live without is Evernote. I use it as my bookmarks just because of it’s much easier to use tags and search later on, and also when I need to save any information that I need to be able to check offline (especially useful when traveling).

    • Oh great one, I’m just getting started with Evernote – it’s been tons of fun to explore it thus far :)

      • heitortsergent

        Nice! It took me a while to really get into it (same experience as other friends) but once you find one good use-case for it, it really sticks.

  • I’d like a bit more insight on to your Feedly and Buffer integration. Do you use Zapier/IFTTT automation or do you share articles manually, adding your own spin on the article, such as adding comments?

  • ranndino

    Love Pocket. Pro tip: You can use the TTS voice option to “read” articles while you drive (like during commute). I’ve suggested for them the ability to add articles to a voice queue. For now I use a Voice Reading (Read aloud) third party app to give me this functionality.

    I also really like Trello & Swipes to help me track what I need to do.

    • Woah it’s amazing to see that there’s a TTS option – super handy!

  • Great article Rodolphe! Most I use regularly but the Moosti I definitely have to try. Sounds like this could help me time slice better. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sola Wolcott

    Hey this is awesome Rodolphe! I’ll be sure to try these tips! Many thanks for sharing!

  • Katie Lewis

    Glad for the recommendation for Pocket, Rodolphe! Just downloaded it, and I can see it majorly helping me stay on task without losing articles to return to. :)

  • George Jor

    thanks a lot! It’s useful.

  • It helps me a lot when I track my time with Toggl. This is quite the same like your point Nr. 5. I think it’s a kind of commitment to oneself. I wrote a blog post about this experience in German: http://www.der-pfeifer.com/fokus-durch-faulheit/

  • I’m going to try some of these out. I’ve been a remote worker and Buffer news subscriber for almost a year. I’ve never used Buffer, I just like the newsletters here and there. I can relate. So I’m going to jump on Pocket and Buffer. I’ll Pocket Feedly and also throw Focus @ Will into my Pocket as well – (look productivity on the rise already!). Great article. I have an idea that might be helpful to myself and others. If we took the sensors that report data on whether or not we are looking at something or not, such as from a junked Galaxy S5, and then mount them on every window in the office. If caught staring out 1 window for more than 3 seconds you will become spayed by water, which may wake you up but generally the water simply lowers the skins electrical resistance for the shock that is unleashed through the arm rest of the chair when window staring surpasses 6 seconds. I will use your guidance, feel free to use mine as well. Thanks!

  • Derek Andrew Franks

    Great article! I’m going to give Pocket a try. I’ve had great success with Focus@will too; that’s a good one!

  • Christopher Parola

    Thanks for this very useful post.
    I just wanted to let you know that there is another service, like Pocket, but fully free: elcurator.net

    Do not hesitate to give it a try and tell me what you think!
    Best,

  • Ramon Suarez

    6. Join a coworking space: it makes you more productive, happier, supported, and brings in more clients

  • Brain.fm is a great resource too. It similar to Focus @ Will. It looks like what’s different is Brain.fm also has tracks for sleep and relaxing.

    I glad to see Pocket and Buffer on the list. :) I definitely use both of those. One that’s miss is Google Drive. For collaborating with people remotely, Drive is a lifesaver.

    Nice list!

  • Without need for plug-ins, remote workers using Linux or OS X can modify their hosts file to effectively block noise. Here’s how: https://github.com/jhabdas/dotfiles/blob/master/etc/hosts

    Two things I’m trying to be effective as a remote worker this year are building a new Habit Field to work (Re the ALA article kind) and doing 8 before 8 (of the Medium kind). Thanks for the tips! Long live the newsletter.

  • Emily Rose Dallara

    I keep forgetting about Moosti – It would help me so much. Working remotely is fab, but I do sometimes feel like, oops I haven’t worked 8 hours today I don’t feel like I’ve been productive ( who decided we should work 8 hrs to feel productive anyway?-bloody 9-5 culture!) I also find that writing 3 things I have to do today, one that will make everything else easier and something to say No to, has really helped my daily focus.