Jordan Koschei jordan koschei

Remote Work

Fighting Remote Work Distractions

The two biggest distractions I’ve found when working from home are:

  1. Housework. There’s always laundry to fold, dishes to wash, tables to tidy. It’s a great way to procrastinate without feeling like you’re procrastinating.
  2. The Internet. Yes, it’s distracting anywhere. But without anyone walking by or looking over your shoulder, it’s that much worse.

Here are some ways to combat distractions. Many of these have worked for me, and some come recommended from others:

  • Put your phone out of site. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Use an Internet blocker. Focus is a good one. You can set a certain amount of time, and it’ll block distracting websites and apps.
  • Schedule a time for housework. Give yourself a set amount of time and you’ll be shocked how quickly you can clean.
  • Get a change of scenery. If one environment isn’t working for you, decamp to a coffee shop or similar.
  • Get up and move around to reset. Move around a little, make some tea or coffee, and stretch your legs before coming back to work. Sometimes that’s the reset that helps.
  • Turn on one song, album, or playlist on repeat. It works! Pro tip: try it with thank u, next by Ariana Grande.

Remote Work Rituals

Wake up. Shower. Eat breakfast.

Go upstairs: home office. Turn on computer. Wait for computer to boot up.

Go downstairs to kitchen. Start electric tea kettle. Fill up bottle of water.

Tea kettle taking too long. Check phone. Browse Twitter.

Tea kettle done! Pour water into mug, add teabag, add honey. Take tea and water upstairs.

Computer on. Open up email. Delete unimportant messages. Triage the rest.

Check in on communities — Dribbble, AIGA Upstate Slack, HV Tech Slack, friend Slack. Check Twitter.

Light candle — candle helps with focus. Turn on lava lamp acquired during wife’s cousins’ white elephant gift exchange. Candle and lamp essential pre-work rituals.

Open Basecamp. Wait for Basecamp to load.

Hands are dry — too much winter. Go downstairs, apply hand lotion. Go upstairs to office.

Click over to Basecamp notifications. Too impatient — hand lotion now on trackpad. Wipe off trackpad.

Check Basecamp notifications, figure out what happened at work since last check-in. Lots happened; work is one time zone behind, has whole extra hour in afternoon.

Open up Things. Look at personal items. Be realistic; move unpleasant tasks to tomorrow. Check work items. Move today’s tasks to Today view.

Start on first task.

False start — check Twitter. Check news sites. Check Hacker News.

Take two. Start on first task. Nope — Basecamp notification. Check Basecamp, say good morning to coworkers, return to task.

Encounter slight resistance in task. Pick up phone and check Twitter. Check news. Nothing changed in last ten minutes. Desk is messy; tidy up desk.

Remember to turn on Focus. Block distracting websites. Put phone on shelf out of sight. Ready to start for real.

Just kidding. Dog barks. Take out dog to go potty. Try not to be frustrated.

Come back inside. Walk upstairs, get situated. Try to remember first task.

Wait — computer desktop disorganized. Reorganize computer desktop. Keep going — reorganize Dropbox. Now all files have tags.

Drank too much tea. Go downstairs, go to bathroom.

Hands dry again after walking dog and washing hands. Re-moisturize.

Walk upstairs. Press button to put standing desk in standing position.

Never mind — too sluggish to stand. Lower standing desk back to sitting position, re-situate chair.

Remember first task. Don’t want to feel unaccomplished at end of day. Don’t want to let down self, company, coworkers. Time to get busy.

Take inventory. Candle lit, websites blocked, phone hidden, dog tended, email closed, hands moisturized.

Start work for real.