Mojito on the beach with your emails casually open on your computer screen. If you were wondering how to become a digital nomad and believed everything you saw on Instagram, that’s what remote work would look like. But if you’re actually a remote worker already, and you’ve been working and travelling for some time, you know that the reality of working remotely is very different.
What Is Remote Work (Really)
Remote work is on the rise. But what is it really, how do people work remotely (while still be productive), why do they work remotely and what are some common misconceptions about remote work? Check out this article to find out more.
Starting a new remote or work-from-home gig, be it a contract project or a full-time job, can be a little intimidating if you’re used to going into an office every day. And even if you are already a remote worker, whether you have a home base and travel occasionally, or you’re a full-time digital nomad always on the road, the reality is: work has to get done. Being productive in different places can sometimes be harder than what it looks like from the pictures, but we’re here to share some more tips on how to do so.
Tips and Tools For Working Remotely And Still Be Productive
The colivers from the Sun and Co.’s community are some of the smartest people we know, with a wide range of job expertise and different levels of experience in the remote working field. So we asked them how they stay productive while working remotely, from home or while travelling. This is what they had to say!
Get Serious About Your Workspace
Rachel says: ‘Get serious about your workspace! Spend some time finding a good place to work that is comfortable and meets all or most of your needs and then keep going back. Knowing what you are going to do and where you are going to do it gives some structure to the workday.’
Having the right office setup will both make you more productive and appear more professional. Little things like, for example, a good headset for avoiding echo during online calls, go a long way. As remote workers, we need a quiet place to host conference calls, meetings, programming sessions, etc., uninterrupted. Just working on your couch is probably not a good long-term remote work solution.
Chelsea’s advice: ‘When I’m working remotely and don’t have to go into an office, it can be tempting to just wear your pajamas all day! However, I found I’m more productive when I dress up, even if I’m not going anywhere. Then when I’m finished with my tasks, I reward myself by going for a walk around the town I’m in – since I’m already dressed!
Make Time To Get Inspired
Ironically enough, being successful in your business isn’t always just focused on business. We all need to look for balance, so that we don’t just spend our days behind a computer. Instead, we need to focus on being able to see new places and have new experiences as well. This is something that we love about being based in Javea, Spain. It allows for the people who come and experience life with us here, not just to work smarter but also to learn how to live better and stay inspired. When you’re in beautiful and remote places like Javea, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a step back, find your focus and stay inspired.
Ann Kathrin says: ‘As an illustrator and graphic designer, getting inspired by the local art and culture scene really helps me to be productive. Whether it’s a trip to a museum during the day, a visit to a theatre or just sitting in a cafe and watch the everyday life around me, I always make time during the day to take advantage of my surroundings and go explore.’
Plan Your Week + Exercise Between Tasks
Alex believes that planning is everything! Make some time at the end or at the beginning of the week to get clarity on what needs to be done that week. It makes the distractions less tempting. But don’t forget to plan some downtime as well! For example, Ella says: ‘I go out for a walk or a run in between tasks. It helps me to clear my head and focus more when I get back to my work. And it’s a great way to get some sun and see the surroundings, while you’re at it.’
In a similar way, @girlsfreelance and Elisabeth like to plan their day, waking up earlier to have part of her work done by 12noon, and then making a break (beach, siesta or whatever you love doing!) until your next productive session during the evening/night.
Make Location Work For You
Ali says: ‘My favourite productivity travel hack is to use the location freedom to help me focus. I choose a project to complete at each location, whether it’s a coffee shop, or even one desk versus the sofa in a coworking space. Once the project or the task is complete, I change locations! The new surroundings help me refocus and the time it takes to get up and walk around helps me get some fresh air and re-charge.‘
Of course, productivity doesn’t always mean being in front of your computer for 8 hours a day. In our eyes, when you’re truly productive, that’s the key to work smarter live better.
Need more tips on how to stay motivated, especially when working remotely? Check out this article on Toptal Insights.
Take A Workation
Our favourite tip to dramatically increase productivity? A workation! With today’s technology and the increasing number of people becoming location independent, the old idea of taking a vacation to disconnect in order to reboot your productivity just doesn’t make sense anymore.
Instead, a workation might be the solution to make you more productive and focused on your work, whether you are a freelance, entrepreneur, or a company’s employee.
How a Workation Can Increase Productivity
Workation (literally work + vacation) is something more than just casually checking emails while you travel. It means actually fully immersing yourself in your work, while also dedicating time to unwind and relax, exploring a new environment, trying new things, meeting new people etc.
There’s no doubt that spending time in a different environment can make you feel more inspired and come up with innovative ideas and solutions for your work. We see this every day at Sun and Co., with our guests choosing to take a workation with us to escape winter in their home countries or spend time in beautiful Javea. After two or three weeks they all go back feeling better at what they do.
This being said, there are a few rules you should follow for a real productive workation.
Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People
When you go on workation, it’s important that you take your working mood with you. Having people around you that are also on a mission to immerse themselves in work helps a lot when it comes to motivation and not getting off the course.
Before you leave for your workation, make sure that both yourself and everyone else (coworkers, clients, travel companions etc.) understands that working is actually going to be the main focus of your trip. Setting the right expectations means avoiding disappointment when sometimes you will have to stay inside and work on some urgent task, instead of going out to enjoy the sunny weather and beautiful spanish beaches. But it also means that your clients or coworkers back home won’t freak out when you’re not responding to an email straight away. Of course you will, you are not just on holiday!
Choose Your Accommodation Wisely
The place you stay will play a great role when it comes to your productivity, so it’s important to make sure you get all of these things:
A good internet connection;
A desk you can sit and work at;
An environment that is quiet and peaceful, but also has places and activities nearby for when you want to change your setting or go explore.
Stay in the same place for the entire trip
Traveling from one place to another not only takes time, but it also requires a lot of energy. Besides, If you’re traveling somewhere new every 3-7 days you won’t be able to fully take in the area, which on the long run will make you feel lonely and disconnected. 2-6 weeks is ideal for workationing and it will give you enough time to get used to the new environment, find a spot you can work, establish a routine and ultimately do good work.
Establish a routine
From day one, try to set yourself a schedule and stick to it throughout your workation. Having the same schedule every day will help you stay organised, plan your time more effectively, and avoid pushing things off for later. Here are some of our favourite apps for an extra help on staying productive while working remotely.
Best Productivity Apps For Remote Workers
As a digital nomad or remote worker, you’ll find that being productive while travelling can sometimes be difficult. From changing time zones to wanting to explore your new “home”, when it comes down to actually getting work done, things can be harder than expected.
Not to worry! Being a remote worker you’ll learn that keeping track with your team, clients and to-do lists is pretty easy if you have the right tools.
Asana is an amazing project management tool that keeps you up-to-date with all of the latest things happening in the company you work for or for your own business. Not only that but it’s an efficient way to keep your co-workers or employees accountable, no matter where you are in the world. With calendars and a way to track project progress, you’ll be sure to keep on top of all of your work while still traveling the globe and enjoying your time doing so.
Not to mention, you can have the app downloaded on your phone but try to turn off the notifications while you’re on the beach!
Krisp eliminates background noise during your calls with cutting-edge technology. This makes it one of the top must-have digital nomad apps for remote workers since you don’t always have control over your workplace’s background noise.
Momentum is an amazing Chrome extension that really helps sets you up for the day and inspires you at the same time. Whenever you open a new tab, it shows you the time, a personalized message, a place where you can share your main focus for the day and an inspirational quote at the bottom.
Not only that, but you’re able to input your to-do list for the day and check it off as you go and the extension also shows you the weather, wherever you are.
Productivity isn’t just about putting the pen to the paper but it’s also about making sure that you feel centered. As a digital nomad or remote worker, sometimes staying centered can be a bit tricky but Headspace is an amazing app that helps you focus on just that. Even if you think you aren’t into meditation, it’s worth a try. All you need is a few minutes each day to take time out and be still and odds are, when you get back to work afterward, you’ll be more balanced and focused.
When it comes to productivity and time tracking, Toggl is one app that you need to know. It’s the perfect way to see how much time you’re dedicating to certain clients and projects, while also making sure that when you’re working… you’re actually working. It’s so easy to get caught up in multi-tasking but with Toggl it really makes you focus on one thing at a time.
Workfrom is the perfect app for when you’re traveling because it breaks down the best coffee shops, bards, co-working spaces and places with WIFI all over the world. With almost 2,000 cities in its database, it’s the best place to scope out where you need to be so that you can be connected and productive all at a high speed.
World Time Buddy
World Time Buddy is an online meeting scheduler, world clock and time zone converter. As a digital nomad, you’ll often be working with people in completely different time zones to you, and that can make scheduling phone calls and meetings tricky – not to mention keeping tabs on the actual time a project is due in.
Tracking your expenses is an essential part of making the digital nomad lifestyle sustainable, but it can be tricky keeping track of every stray receipt and purchase. Expensify makes this task so much easier, allowing you to photograph your receipts and store them in digital form.
There you have it! These are only some great apps that you can use to make sure that you’re productive while working remotely and travelling the world. You can find many more in this blog post and on this website.
And finally, a word on how to stay productive during the most unproductive period of the year: summer!
How To Stay Productive During The Summer
Whether you are working from an office, or somewhere remotely, chances are during summer you sometimes find yourself daydreaming about vacation instead of staying productive at work.
Sounds familiar? You’re not alone! In fact, there’s even a name for this well-known phenomenon: the summer slump. The summer slump encompasses everything from feeling guilty when the weather is glorious, but you can’t go outdoors; to experiencing envy when envisioning all your coworkers having time off. It’s a mixture of lethargy, boredom, and restlessness, brought about by melting temperatures outside, freezing temperatures in the office, plenty of summertime distractions and a burning desire to drop all tasks at hand.
We hear you! So we came up with a list of tips to survive the hottest months of the year and still get work done, which we hope you find useful. Happy reading, and happy summer!
Work At An Optimal Temperature
The summer weather is a primary reason you find it so hard to focus in this season. When it’s so hot outside, air conditioning becomes your best friend. But go easy on it! Studies show that above 76°F/24°C productivity starts to decline, while below 68°F/20°C discomfort and the error rate become increasingly acute. Not to mention the risk of AC to send you straight to sick leave, if it gets too cold. Setting the right temperature at work can induce greater productivity, but it is a narrow margin to navigate.
If your working space (or your life) is a mess, take advantage of the quiet time when your coworkers are on holiday to do some tidying up. This can come in the form of unlearning bad habits, eliminating distractions, or even physically organising your life to prepare for a more productive fall. If you’re looking for a summer reading, plenty of books have been written on the topic of physical organisation (our recommendation: Marie Kondo’s bestseller ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’).
Maybe it’s not the best idea to go running outdoors in the boiling summer heat, but summer is a great time to sign up for a gym membership, participate in a group exercise class or hit the pool. It’s proven that exercising can improve your mental capacity, including better concentration, sharper memory and faster learning.
Do you still have trouble getting started, because your work schedule is too busy – or at least that’s your excuse? A Harvard Business Review article goes so far as to recommend that you reframe exercise as part of your job!
Set Your Goals For The Future
Perhaps you have been planning to ask your boss to let you work remotely for some time? Or you would like to take a workation in the fall? Or why not try coliving for the first time, if you are looking for new inspiration and fresh ideas?
Now that you are mentally organised, physically ready and working at a comfortable temperature, take advantage of the summer quiet time to figure out your goals for the upcoming months, reevaluate your path and plan for meaningful changes.
Take Time For Yourself
You do not have to be on a faraway island to make time for yourself. If you can’t take time to go travelling just yet, an evening stroll through the park or a weekend hike can be just as rejuvenating, if you consciously choose to unwind. Try meditation, catch up with family and friends, and when your work schedule is not as hectic, pursue the activities that you have been meaning to try for a while.
And if you’re looking for your next destination to recharge and disconnect, remember Javea is at its best during September, October and November 🙂 Check out our booking page to see our availability in the fall.