Working Remotely: 3 Winning Ways to Stay Focused

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

By Otti Hart


The option for remote work is a dream come true for many developers’. Managing your tasks from the comfort of your own home with your favorite sesame seed bagel buttered the way you like, whilst multitasking a color wash on in the next room is a privilege that is becoming more and more commonplace in the new world of work.

However sometimes developers struggle to hold their focus with so many home comforts around them.


The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has also forced many workers to self isolate and work from home, which can not only feel claustrophobic, but also bitters that sweet taste of the freedom to work remotely.


Here’s some winning ways to resist the urge to commit to couch potato life in front of DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing, and instead proudly tick off your success list of prioritized tasks.


Around 1.5 million people work remotely, and according to, unsurprisingly, developers are all in the top categories for working remotely so it's important to ensure you have the best practices for making the most out of your time. See below-




Start the day right

This is crucial – if you gear yourself up for a slumber party day working in bed in your pyjamas, the quality of your work is undoubtedly going to reflect this.

If you want to achieve your goals and think big, start by tuning in your mind by physically getting into character. Approach the day in the same way as your role models would. Get dressed, brush your teeth and ensure you have a tidy work space ready for your 9am start.


Draw your curtains, embrace the sunshine, open the window and get some fresh air into your room. If your environment is stuffy you can bet your headspace will be too.


Remember, your most creative thoughts are processed early in the morning while you’re still coming out of your dream state, so embrace this state of mind, swipe away unnecessary clutter from your desk and start plotting your day.

Scientific studies of brain circuits have highlighted that creative activity in the brain is at its peak during sleep and immediately after, as this is when the prefrontal cortex is most active.

Channeling this hyper-creative superpower state of mind so that you’re doing your most creative tasks immediately in the day and can focus on going into machine-mode and getting tasks complete later in the day is a great way to approach this.[1]

If you’re not a morning person find a way to approach this initial early morning state so you’re gently easing yourself into work. These morning rituals, however simple from some light stretching, taking vitamins, drinking water and brushing your teeth and putting on clothes you intent to work in help you improve your enjoyment of your work. It is the intention to work and the following through with this in the form of some ritual that is effective[2].


Structure your day (and stick to it)!

Create a success list. This is a checklist you start the day with, jot down everything work related on your mind while those creative juices are flowing, and then structure it into projects and finally priorities.

A great way to make this extra effective is being smart about your wording. Create rewarding tasks you can tick off. For example:


  • Weekly newsletter sent to team


  • Send weekly newsletter to team


The first option is far more motivational, pushing you to fully accomplish this task and have it completed whereas the wording of the second task makes it ongoing. You want this to be a finite task that will be completely in the past once ticked.


Make sure you prioritize your tasks and distribute them over the next week. Be reasonable with how long it's going to take you to complete tasks so you don’t feel overwhelmed and let yourself down. Write down how long it will take you to complete and schedule this into your day’s timetable.

Finally be disciplined about working to your deadlines. You only owe this to yourself and will feel empowered when you’re achieving the goals you set.


The Pomodoro Technique is a great productivity hack that I have only heard great reviews on– using a timer, it forces you to focus for 25 minute intense cycles with 5 minute breaks in between.

It's important to bear in mind that only you know how long you can really focus for, if you have ADHD or your attention span focuses best for a specific amount of time you’re going to need less or more frequent breaks and possible more or less active breaks. Listen to your body – if you’re going to have to work 9-5pm, establish a time schedule that you’re going to be able to maintain. Active breaks such as walking breaks are proven to boost your creativity by some 60% so get some fresh air through your lungs and get out the house.


Communicate communicate communicate!

According to State of Work’s recent 2019 study, loneliness is the second biggest challenge to remote working with communication the third.


This is why it’s essential to communicate with other developers on your team, ask what they’re working on and how they’re doing, communicate struggles you’re having or areas you’re enjoying. If there’s technical problems you’re struggling with it is highly likely that someone on your team will have their own hack they’d be happy to share with you. If you’re feeling isolated, remember you’re definitely not alone, and the chances are your colleagues are too.


Having a common group work chat is a great way to stay in touch. Keep things informal and light hearted on this chat. Depending on your relationship with your boss and your colleagues’, this might not be the ideal platform to involve them in. Strength in numbers! Solidarity while you’re working from home will instantly make you feel more connected and your work is less isolated.

However, make sure you turn your work notifications off once you clock off. It's never been more important to maintain a separation between your work life and home life than when you’re working from home.

Starting the day as you mean to go on, structuring your time effectively and maintaining direct communication with colleagues who are in the same boat as you will drastically not only boost your productivity but heighten your enjoyment of your work and let you take pride in your achievements.

During these times of self-isolation things can seem bleak, but remember, you are not alone and focusing on succeeding in your work is a great way to build your morale. 

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