One thing we often do is look for “hacks” or unique tips that make our lives more productive and efficient. And there are countless books and websites dedicated to those very topics.
But “hacking” also applies to remote work too.
I’ve been working remotely full-time since 2017 and along the way I’ve found my own remote work hacks. And I’ve also talked to countless other remote workers who have their own simple hacks to better optimize time and work productivity.
Below you’ll find a few I think are worth knowing if you are working remotely.
Remote Hacks Worth Knowing About
Many of the articles I’ve come across related to remote or work from home hacks are just general tips or ways to increase your energy during the day.
They’ll say things about getting comfortable headphones, find a space with no distractions, take walks during calls, etc.
While those are certainly good to know, I wouldn’t consider them “hacks” per se. So it got me thinking a bit more about some things that might not come to mind right away or could be more unconventional.
With that said, here are some simple, but hopefully interesting remote hacks you can apply to your work routine.
1. Take your lunch while working.
Instead of eating during your lunch break, use that time for whatever you want. That could be relaxing, reading a book, getting some specific chore done around the house, etc.
I mix it up, but sometimes I eat while wrapping up a project. And then on my break I catch up on some reading, spend some time with my family, or just sit outside if it’s nice. It’s just a better use of my time on some days.
2. Listen to music or podcasts during mundane tasks.
There will be times you need silence to focus, especially in a block of deep work. However if you are working on basic tasks or simple things, keep your mind active by streaming your favorite music or podcasts.
I put together more about music and working from home which includes playlist examples.
3. Build workflows in Slack, Zapier, IFTTT.
Automation is becoming a huge part of the world, especially in tech. And many have integrations with tools you use to work remotely. Plus, many offers also offer plenty of basic features for free so even if your company doesn’t utilize the tool you can.
- Zapier can allow you to automate many things between other software. A good use here is reminders for yourself, data entry, creating alerts, or other time sucking manual tasks.
- Slack has some workflow features that can help you also set up reminders, repeat specific messages
- IFTTT is similar to Zapier in a way, but you can do things like automatically remind a Slack channel about a meeting, turn lights off in your house when you’re on vacation, etc.
4. Watch videos and recordings at 2x speed.
This is such a simple hack, which doesn’t even just apply to working remotely.
But if you use any video tool, they usually have speed settings to increase how fast the playback is to you. And you will actually adapt quickly to doing that as most work related videos you can comprehend at faster speed.
This speed watching allows you to save some time in your day. To me this is useful on super long videos or recordings I need to watch at work. I use it often on Loom videos that co-workers send.
5. Purchase a mouse jiggler.
Mouse jigglers ensure you curser is moving to keep your computer active and can fool your employer tracking you.
Two quick things on this remote work hack.
- I’ve never personally used one as I’ve worked for trusting remote work companies and I’m passionate about my work.
- I’d be careful about this as there still can be ways a company can detect it if they already have specific tracking software installed on your work computer. But most companies won’t invest that much time into the tracking.
Personally, I don’t recommend this hack unless your company is super intrusive about you working remotely or your manager is very aggressive when you step away from your computer.
If your employer is that distrusting, then it’s time to look for a better remote job.
6. Utilize a VPN.
While work from anywhere companies are the ultimate golden ticket, some companies that allow you to work remotely want you in one location aka your home.
But maybe you want to work from a different state, country, or on the go as a digital nomad. Having a VPN allows you to mask your IP, but also keep your privacy safe and help prevent real hackers trying to access your data.
Again, great remote-first culturals will be open to you changing scenery. Just connect with your manager or HR to get approval. But if they are notoriously difficult or you feel you’re being spied on, a VPN can be worth having.
One thing to note, if they are adding software to track you, they’ll know when you add a VPN software. So tread lightly. And as I’ve mentioned in the mouse jiggler hack, if they are tracking you this much it’s probably a toxic culture and time to find a new job.
7. Use presentation mode to keep your computer active.
By using PowerPoint or Google Slides in presentation mode, it will keep your computer active and won’t go to sleep. So there are two reasons a remote worker might do this:
- If your computer settings are locked down by your employer, you might not be able to control sleep mode. So if you have increments where you are reading, focused, stepping away to the bathroom, or planning work on a whiteboard – it can be used to keep your system awake so you do not have to log back every few minutes.
- You are looking to get out of work and want to make it look like you are working. Hopefully this isn’t you or doesn’t have to be (again, back to those companies tracking every little mundane detail of your day).
8. Enable do not disturb time on your calendar.
One simple remote work hack is to utilize “do not disturb” on your email calendar. This is perfect for wanting to focus on projects and not have people scheduling meetings on you during that time.
If your company uses Google for work, it’s called “Focus Time.” If you never set this up before, Google has some quick instructions to utilize this function.
Or if you are using Microsoft Outlook inbox and calendar, there are also some “do not disturb” settings you can enable. If you are unsure how to do so, check out these instructions.
9. Invest in unique desks or fitness desk accessories.
When you work remotely, you’ll find yourself sitting a lot. Not that you wouldn’t be sitting too much in the office either. But this is a good time to invest in a unique desk or desk accessories to get you more active.
The first option to consider is a standing desk that allows you to adjust the height. You can go from sitting to standing at the push of the button. There were a few of these in a co-working startup hub I used to visit and they were awesome.
Another option is to look for some fitness desk accessories. There are treadmills made to fit under your desks or desk/treadmill combo so you can walk while working.
I have an elliptical by Cubii that goes under my desk to get my legs moving whenever I want without standing. They have many different options to help you get active and stay healthy working from home.
Remember, your routine and remote work processes are personal to you. So some of these remote hacks I shared, may not be something you need or will want to do.
But maybe you found something interesting from above that makes your home office, work day, or productivity better. And that is a win for me.
If you have other remote hacks, I’d love to hear about them! I’m sure I’ll be updating this article in the future so I’m always open to new ideas worth including.