Last week we met other location-independent working folks at the meetup of bedndesk, a coworking space in S'Arenal. People from various countries shared their experiences – here are some of them I think we all can learn from.
As much as we love to work in an environment of our choice we know about the side-effects. So this meeting was very valuable to see that others face the same challenges as we do. Also to hear from interesting hacks to deal with those challenges. Thank you very much, Matias, for setting up the meetup and the hospitality at bedndesk!
Get into working mode
Everybody working as a freelancer or self-employed has to find the best way to become productive. That is true for people working at their home office as well as working in a paradise at the sea. At home so many things try to get your attention (laundry, dirty dishes, tv set...), in a café you may find yourself watching other guests, in a hotel or at the beach you think rather of outdoor activities than of getting your stuff done.
It is so true: Bad habits are easy to form, good habits, well...
What do do – some ways to get yourself into gear for work
- Start your work with writing down everything you want to accomplish. Joe, a digital nomad from Germany, stated that this is much easier than actually start to <em>work,</em> but it gets you into your projects. Plus there is a bonus for all you to-do-list-enthusiasts: You may mark all your accomplished tasks at the end of the day.
- Get your headphones in and start a playlist that you created for work. Matias from bedndesk said that after a while it is normal for you to think of work while listening to those especially chosen tracks. It works so good, that you will think of working when you later here a song of this special playlist in a bar or elsewhere...
- Place special things around you that symbolize work for you. Maybe you have one of those colorful miniature office sets to mark your work space. Or you have some toys that reminds you of your environment to work.
- Get into a place where other people are productive. Keji from the UK said she never travels anywhere where there is no coworking space to go to. If you struggle to get into your work, then working in this environment is a perfect solution. Plus it brings you in contact with interesting locals.
- Joe said he uses a speech recognition program to fire his brain up. He leans back and talks into the microphone about what he is going to do in his different projects. Maybe he already digs into some details of a project – but this is not lost: His words are converted into text and he can work further work on this.
- And sometimes you have so many things on your mind that it is hard to focus. Then we all agreed it helps a lot to do one easy, brainless task – like doing the dishes, folding laundry or sweeping the floor – to focus again on the next important task.
How to stay in contact with a remote team
Matias shared his experience of becoming more and more alien to the team he had been remotely working with – and some in the audience nodded in agreement. For example one day he received an email from a colleague working in a different country that sounded slightly aggressive, and he could not figure out why.
After a while he realized, he never gets the mood of his working pals. The team used Slack to communicate, but it obviously did not help to stay connected to the people. Back then when he had worked at the office he recognized somebody had a bad day, and he then would have asked this colleague another day to answer a question.
What to do – use daylong video conferencing (Skype or Google+ hangouts):
- Matias and the team started each day a Skype video conference in the morning. They kept the connection the whole day to watch each other while working.
- There is no need to talk a lot during the day, but you get back closer. The understanding of each other improves immediately.
How to stay productive (despite email)
Email is a cool communication tool, but it also suck at our attention. All of us had to find ways to deal with emails or other interruptions.
What to do – think of these productivity tips around emails:
- Change the settings of your email systems from push to pull – desktop email client, smartphone email apps – all of them!
- Look after your emails three times a day (four if you work with teams in different time zones), and set a timer for 15 minutes attention.
- Do not start immedeately answering emails that need a longer time to prepare the appropriate answer; instead send a short reply to the inquiring person that you are on it and will come back on his request tomorrow afternoon the latest e.g. That gives you time for planning and you can stay in your 15-minutes email practice.
- And if you need to plan appointments with people living in different time zones: Don't struggle long-time to find the best time slot for everybody, instead use the smartphone app Miranda as a quick helper.
Everybody has his own way to handle things. Coworking spaces offer an awesome variety of opportunities to learn from each other – especially to work better.
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