Small Drips of Productivity for Distributed Teams

Because productivity matters always - but especially when you work remotely. When you have a distributed team feedback, communication and timeliness are super important. You will feel better at the end of the day.

Be a Great Communicator

If you work remotely, it is essential to talk with your team! If your team uses Slack, post regular updates or speak up when you're blocked. Remember, if you're blocked, your team needs to know. If you spend the entire day without giving any updates to anyone on your team, what will your team think about you? The only good exception for this is if they already know that you're pretty busy working on some issue. They won’t think of you! Communicating keeps everyone top of mind.

Being a great communicator is not the same thing as talking all the time. People are busy. Keep your required communications short.

Ex: In your standup update, do not spend a lot of time talking about things not related to what you did or will do.

A developer needs to translate ideas from real life into code.

This means we need to understand real life. This requires talking to people, and not being afraid to ask questions. If you didn't understand, ask again!

One thing I have learned is that it's much better to say, I didn't understand, could you explain please? rather than This is what I did (because I didn't understand what you really needed). Try to understand the concepts first, then prioritize what the most important steps are.

Doing something wrong is worse than admitting you didn't understand. Don't hesitate to ask!

Your communication skills definitely affect your productivity. It will affect your entire team if you do not communicate or if you're doing the wrong thing because you misunderstood. Additionally, having constant feedback from your team is a great thing to keep you (and your team) motivated.

Make a list of things to do

This is something I do that really helps my productivity. Start your day with a small list of 3 different things to do. The to-do list helps you visualize your day and make achievable goals. At the end of the day, if you accomplished those three things on your to do list, you will sleep better.

Be Proactive

Do not wait for your boss/manager to tell you what to do next.

This is so important. Not only if you work remotely, but in all areas of your life.

  • Improve your company.
  • Make everyone's life a little easier.
  • Improve your life.
  • Stay ahead.
  • Have an overview for your current task.
  • Have your next task ready.
  • Don’t just do a good job — do a great job!

Ask your team: What can I do next? . I finished [insert task here], what can I do next?. Keep your team in the loop: “I'm working on [this task] now, and I can’t finish [previous task] because I’m blocked by [issue].”

Track your time every day, and at the end of the day, ask yourself: Was it a good work day for me? What can I improve tomorrow?

This can be simple time tracking, you don’t have to record every second. Maybe you just track broad 1-4 hour blocks: In the afternoon I met with Angie and we planned out the next phase for feature development around the chat system, then I spent some time mocking it up.

Oscar Wilde said: “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.”

This doesn't necessarily mean overworking, it means doing your best while you work. Focus is important! If you are blocked or waiting on validation from someone, do the next thing on your list. Check your team’s project management tool. Start working on the next issue on your list.

Sleep well

Personally, this greatly affects my productivity. If I do not get a good night’s sleep, I cannot have a good day of work. Even if I want to work more, I function better when I go to sleep early and wake up early. When you work remotely you should also keep timezones in mind. Make sure you know what time your team will be most available, and plan accordingly.

Conclusion

The best part of the day is putting your head on your pillow and thinking: Today was a productive day.

These are my thoughts on productivity and what works for me. Everybody is different - find what works best for you. I would love to know what productivity tips work for you! Put them in the comment section. Thanks!