6 Productivity Hacks for Remote Agency Workers
by Juliette Lagerweij on August 19, 2022
Remote work and asynchronous work environments skyrocketed in popularity in early 2020, initially as a result of pandemic lockdowns. Today, remote work continues to be the top choice for businesses and individuals– basically, anyone who can work remotely is doing so.
Across multiple industries, the remote work trend is here to stay, as these revealing statistics explain:
- 97% of remote workers would recommend remote work to others
- Top-reported benefits to working remotely are flexible schedule, work from anywhere, no commute, and more family time
- Collaboration and communication methods are the biggest change experienced by workers who switch to a remote environment
But despite the positive trend and lifestyle benefits, there’s a darker side to the work-at-home environment.
For example, multiple health professionals and studies suggest that working from home can be damaging to mental health.
And in this ILO–Eurofound report:
- 42% of remote workers experienced trouble sleeping vs 29% in office workers
- 41% of remote workers felt stressed vs just 25% of office workers
As any remote worker can attest, the work-life balance from this lifestyle is amazing, as is the autonomy to travel and work on your own schedule.
But it comes with a price, with negatives that need to be worked out in order to stay happy and stay productive.
Why remote workers need productivity hacks
Here’s the thing– anyone who has worked remotely for any extensive period of time will tell you– working from home has its drawbacks.
When it comes to remote work productivity, the research on this is mixed, with some studies suggesting that working remotely can increase productivity.
Others, like this Microsoft survey, suggest long-term productivity actually decreases with remote work.
Again, as any seasoned remote worker will tell you, productivity can fluctuate greatly in these kinds of work-from-home environments. Creatives, especially, can experience profound productivity lulls when working from home versus having to report to an office or studio.
Finally, let’s not forget the inevitable distractions that come up with remote work. If working from home, you may have other family members present or suddenly remember an urgent chore. If you’re traveling, you may be working in a bustling coffee shop.
It’s no question that remote workers can stay productive while enjoying the benefits of asynchronous work. With just a little effort like adding a new healthy habit or taking more time to recharge, remote agency workers can keep their productivity high with their work-life balance where they want it to be.
Enter the productivity hacks all remote workers and work-from-homers need to be more productive. The easy way.
6 Hacks For Remote Agency Workers to Boost Productivity
1. Get out of the house
It’s simple. It’s easy. But it’s also easier said than done. Remote workers need to make a concerted effort to get out of the house both for their own sanity and to increase productivity. Scientific research shows that spending even just a small amount of time outdoors has a positive effect on our brains.
Specifically, researchers found that getting outside increased gray matter in the part of the frontal cortex that helps you plan and regulate actions. The same study also points out that common psychiatric disorders correlate with less gray matter in this area. All in all, the fresh air is good for you both cognitively and psychologically.
Hacker tip: Try working outdoors or scheduling two 30-minute breaks during the day to spend time outdoors.
2. Time blocking with breaks
If you’ve never tried time blocking and you need a productivity boost, it’s a top-recommended technique from successful entrepreneurs and remote agency workers. The benefits include more focus, minimized distractions, better mood, and the ability to more effectively prioritize urgent tasks.
Although there are countless options as to how long or short you make your time intervals, time blocking in a nutshell works like this:
You plan out your work for the day in time chunks of 15 to 30 minutes. Generally, you should plan out your time blocks to reflect on specific tasks, so that you can avoid multitasking. In between each work sprint are 5 to 10-minute breaks, where you detach from your work. In these breaks, you can relax, eat, exercise, or do whatever you want to do.
When in a productivity funk, time blocking is a simple thing you can do that can get you moving forward. While working for 7 hours might seem daunting, working for 20 or 30 minutes, knowing you can take a break, is most often a doable feat.
Hacker tip: Block time out on your calendar, set a timer, or use your time tracking solution to start time blocking with breaks ASAP.
3. Turn your night light on (and get good sleep)
The reason people can work remotely in the first place is advancing technology that enables us to do everything we need with a computer and a strong internet connection. However, using electronic devices all day isn’t great for overall health.
Although blue light from computers won’t cause any damage to your actual eye, science suggests that too much blue light can cause sleep disruption and may disturb health and the natural circadian rhythm.
A simple hack to avoid the mal effects of blue light is to turn on your computer’s night light function or blue light filter. This can usually be done in settings under the display tab.
Using your computer’s night light means you won’t be receiving any blue light, but rather, a softer, yellower screen.
It may take some time to get used to, but working with your computer and your phone in night light mode can make your eyes feel good and help you get better sleep. Both things can help increase your productivity level.
Hacker tip: Turn the night light on in your laptop’s display settings to avoid blue light and get more ZZZs.
4. Use a good time tracker
If there’s one area new remote workers could use a leg up, it’s time tracking. Committing time-tracking sins is a surefire way not to get paid for all the work you’re actually putting in. A good time tracker can help you stay on task, account for ALL your billable hours, and help you more easily block time as well as invoice.
In short, you should be able to easily track your billable time accurately, without any hassle. A good time tracker should have a mobile app and browser extension, so you can track time whenever and wherever you’re working.
Hacker tip: Automate your time tracking. Use self-driving time tracking to keep track of all your hours without having to manually enter your time.
5. Automate your invoicing
Many (if not most) remote agency workers are still creating invoices manually. Even if you’re using an invoice template, recording the same information over and over again adds up in the broad scheme of things. Plus, invoice errors are rampant in the professional services world, particularly when offering packages of services with nuanced contract lines.
Automated invoicing, or smart invoicing, can make these problems go away. You can even connect your invoicing to your time tracking so that invoices are automatically generated for your time. That means you don’t ever have to actually create an invoice yourself again.
You can also set up a regular invoicing schedule with automated invoicing so that you can get paid correctly and on time. Every time.
Hacker tip: Integrate your time tracking with invoice automation, and your invoices can create themselves.
6. Dedicate time to recover and recharge
One of the key struggles of remote workers is they feel they aren’t able to ever really unplug. If something comes up in the middle of the night, they can work on it. If they get an email during dinner time, it can be tempting to respond and get it out of the way.
Recovery is important in every type of work, but it’s especially critical for remote work.
Solution? Dedicate time to recover and recharge from the constant communication with the work-related business. Some ways to do that are mandating a good night’s sleep and turning off the devices.
Social recovery and mental recovery are important as well, which can be accomplished by spending time with friends and practicing meditation, respectively.
Hacker tip: Be sure to dedicate time to family and friends and consider adopting a meditative practice. Literally, unplug the devices whenever you can to recharge your mind.
In a nutshell
In a nutshell, we all know that the rise in remote work has been super beneficial to the work-life balance of agency professionals everywhere.
But productivity lulls are bound to strike, and it’s natural, particularly for people working from home.
When that happens, remote workers can leverage our 6 simple hacks to help boost productivity and improve their overall remote work lifestyle.
We know, we’ve tried them!
From spending time outdoors to time blocking and invoice automation, these are little things you can do that can impact your productivity level in a big way.