Productivity Hacks for Remote Staff

Productivity is often perceived as getting more things done. However, James Clear the author of Atomic Habits defines productivity as getting important things done consistently. The latter definition serves remote staff and the companies they work for most effectively. If employees can get the “right” work done by managing their time efficiently, crossing off the biggest wins on their to-do lists then their expectations of management are met and they feel accomplished. Win-win. 

These productivity hacks are useful for the first time remote worker who is learning how to navigate distractions and not being fully equipped as they will likely head back to the office. Yet also useful for the seasoned remote employee adjusting to working with others at home in their space. Both types now battling work life balance more than ever, feeling overworked and possibly undermotivated because of the uncertainty the world faces. 

Preparation is Key

Set yourself up for success by preparing your work-station ahead of time. Preferably a space where others do not need to enter. Include the essentials, specifically a tall glass of water to help maintain energy. Bonus tip, avoid working in or near the kitchen or the laundry room they will perpetually distract you.

Specific Time Intervals

Decide on an amount of time that you can focus on one task that isn’t too long that your attention will wane or too short that you can’t gain momentum. Pre-covid I chose 45-50 minutes, typically started at the top of the hour. Now, with kids at home it’s sometimes 30 minutes. This practice also gives you built in breaks. 

  1. Decide which tasks to focus on in each block of time and put it in the calendar based on your schedule
  2. Put on a timer when starting
  3. Turn off notifications on all devices, airplane mode on your phone
  4. Do not check email during this time
  5. Take a break when the time is up and make sure to move 

Create an Email Strategy

Create a strategy that defines at what time (s) of the day you will check your inbox and for how long. Productivity experts note that checking and responding to email is working on someone else’s to-do list. Being proactive about when you check email will avoid the trap of getting stuck there too long, too often and allow a more focused effort to read and respond. Here are some quick email wins:

  1. Set-up auto-responders for both in and outside the company with proper expectations; such as “I typically reply within 24 business hours”
  2. Pre-write and save email drafts that are easy to grab and tweak if you have similar and frequent responses

Reduce Background Noise

Whether you’re working remotely at home or from a local coffee shop outside noise can be a distraction. Where applicable wear earplugs or headphones and play music that helps you concentrate. Binaural beats have been proven to increase focus. Either option will drown out the neighbors landscaper.

Not too long ago “multitasking” was a skill often required on job descriptions. Recent research suggests that multitasking is less productive than focusing on one thing at a time. Preparing your work-space, concentrating on one task, limiting email checking and reducing distractions sets up remote employees for success. A more focused approach denotes accomplishment by the end of the work day offering a better work life balance for remote workers. 


Nicole Carpenter, is a sales and marketing expert turned health coach whose programs teach parents to create systems and routines to live life with less overwhelm. She can often be found trampolining in the backyard with her three sons to keep up with their energy. To learn more visit


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