Remote Work: 3 Routines That Work

The Buffer team recently surveyed 2,300 remote workers and shared insights into the world of remote work. This year, 27 percent of remote workers selected not being able to unplug as their biggest struggle with remote work (see chart below).



I’ve been working from home for 5 years in small to medium-sized teams across Europe.

Lessons learned: All is about routines.

Routines make me switch from Home mode to Work mode.

Researchers named it Integration vs. Segmentation. In short, life is commonly split into 3 parts:


  1. You leave home and go to work.
  2. At work, you’re in your Work mode.
  3. Then you go back home, and you switch to your Home mode.

While working from home, those steps are blurred. It’s easy to wake up, stay in your pajamas and walk 5 meters to your work station. Definitely not the best productivity hack, isn’t it?

How to make the switch smoothly?

I built three routines to switch from one state to another and set me in the best possible conditions to work from home.

Routine #1: Wake up and dress up like a typical working day.

A day working from home is just like any other working day. Start it as if you were going to work. It’s my best routine to switch from Home mode to Work mode. Here’s how I start my day: I wake up at 7 AM, do a 7-minute workout, have a shower, have breakfast, and read for 20 minutes. When done, I sit in front of my laptop, and I know what to do.

Routine #2: Anticipate your action plan for the day.

If you’re more productive in the morning, keep your agenda clean to focus on your work. I know I work better early in the morning. I have the energy, the clarity of mind, and the focus to do my best work. I don’t read emails. I don’t read my Slack conversations nor my social notifications. When I start my day, I know what to do, so I just do it and start working. Later in the afternoon, I check what I’ve done, define my 2-3 main action items for the next day, so I’m ready for tomorrow. And ready to stop working. For real.

Routine #3: Stop working. For real.

To stop working for real is vital for your work-life balance. To be honest, it’s one routine I’m still working on right now. Sometimes it feels hard to disconnect from your laptop and your smartphone. Leave ’em far, far away from you. How about a quick look at your work apps? Don’t. Do something else instead. Have a walk, do some meditation, or read a non-work book. Anything that makes you switch. My computer is in a dedicated room, and I don’t go in there when I’m not working. I shut it down every day, so I know I won’t open it—even if it starts in less than 4 seconds.

To stop working on your smartphone is harder. I’m still running experiments to reduce my screen time. I deleted most of my work apps—Gmail, Twitter, Medium… I’ve set up time limits for apps and downtime. I preferably use widgets. It’s still a running experiment. Check back later for my lessons learned!

Bonus: Reduce noise and focus on what matters with RemoteBoard.

Emails, Slack conversations, social notifications… It can be noisy at work. But it doesn’t mean you can’t fix it. As a remote team, we needed such an app to help us focus—so we started working on RemoteBoard, the browser extension for company-wide communication.

It replaces your Chrome, Edge, or Firefox default New Tab to display your key company news and data. Looking for your marketing material? Don’t check your Google Drive, don’t ask your co-workers in your Slack workplace. Open a New Tab.

If you want to reduce the noise and focus on what matters, you should install RemoteBoard.

To sum up:

  • Routine #1: Wake up and dress up like a typical working day.
  • Routine #2: Anticipate your action plan for the day.
  • Routine #3: Stop working. For real.
  • Bonus: Reduce noise and focus on what matters with RemoteBoard.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found some insights that would help you work better and get things done while working from home. Over to you, what are your best practices to stay productive while working from home

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