A remote working routine to be productive and happy in 4 steps.

This week I shared my working routine with my teammates in Automattic and that could be useful for others too so here it is how I work:

What are the top tips that I would share ?

  1. Re-Set your priorities daily.
  2. Set a starting-the-day routine and a starting-the-day Alfred workflow.
  3. Devote time to people.

My day gets started the previous afternoon.

I do yoga in the evening (Inspiration from my colleague Sasha that also writes a lot and very well on morning routines). I usually do yoga with my wife (15 – 20 minutes, not more), and from that moment, I do not use screens any longer. This has been amazing and helps me:

  • I get time to mindfully spend with my family and with myself. This is a source of joy. Joy fosters productivity.
  • I sleep longer. No more Netflix after going to bed.
  • I sleep better. When I go to be I’m ready to sleep.

Waking up and switching on the computer

I use this application that wakes me up from 6:10 to 6:40. It monitors your sleep and it wakes you up when you are finishing a sleep cycle, so you feel fresher. I make coffee and have breakfast (bread with olive oil and sugar + orange juice). I use freshly grinded coffee (this one) and I leave a wonderful aroma in the kitchen. Then I’m ready to go to my office.

The key point for a working routine: set limits. I try to work from 7AM to 3PM with an 1-hour break. Then I work during the afternoon for 1 more hour that I use to have meetings with other timezones (especially US people).

When I go to my office (having a separate piece is crucial), I switch my computer on and launch an Alfred workflow that opens:

  • Safari for Slack – I don’t use the app- and mynoise.
  • Firefox for Team related things. The scheduler, the team dashboard, 1.1 docs where I log topics to be dealt with in the next 1:1. Having these docs always opened allows me to log things as they happen.
  • Mail and Calendar, among other things, in Chrome.
  • Trello
  • Simplenote, the best note-taking app ever
  • Some pictures and diagrams

Alfred leaves my laptop ready to work with me :). But at that moment I’m still not ready to work as there as some additional steps.

First, self-care and awareness

My working routine starts with a bit of self-care and awareness.

  1. I randomly choose and read a self-mastery card. They are just a way to acknowledge that you can tap into any action or workflow to find meaning.
  2. I use HeadSpace for 10 minutes of meditation/mindfulness. This brings me clarity of mind.
  3. I write down a list of things that I want to do with my wife and my kids during the afternoon.
Some of the mastery cards
Some of the mastery cards

How I work?

I like paper scripts that I change from time to time and I take a picture of them and I display them in the ‘starting the day’ Alfred workflow. The picture below is the first thing I see when I start working. These 3 colored sections are the core of my working routine.

The green section corresponds to ‘My steps to start the day’.

How I work in an visual schema

After that, I start the blue section. I have a list of my projects and things to do in Trello. I check the agenda and cross it with the things to do and make a list of priorities for that given day.

I’m then ready to deal with communication (1,2,3 in Red section). This means that I read all the messages I’ve gotten since the last time. I first read (or ignore) slack DMs, mentions, and starred channels. Then Emails (mainly P2 subscriptions). And to finish, I go for Basecamp threads. I do not read email/basecamp/slack until the following day -unless a good reason or DMs-.

For each message I decide to (Credit to Ari Meisel for the inspiration even if he uses just Delete, Do and Defer):

  • Answer to it (This would be the equivalent to Ari’s do)
  • Add something to a tasks application (Trello card / Asana / Todoist) to deal with it later. (This would be = Defer)
  • Delegate it or pass it along. (This is Do too)
  • Do nothing and forget it. (Delete)

4th point and last. Projects and activities. By this moment, I have a clear idea of what I need to do and I have it prioritized, so I don’t need to decide what’s next and can focus on getting things done. I don’t worry about projects that I’ve chosen not to work on today and I leave space in my brain to work on the projects I decided.

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