We are excited to announce that Holopod has joined Pulse. View the full announcement.

How to optimize your remote work day with Smart Calendar

Over the years my productivity could be best described as chaotic.

I mess around for days (weeks? months?), and then have bursts of inspiration where I get tons of work done.

It’s an awful way to work. It leaves me overloaded with information, distraction, and feeling pretty bad about myself.

I’ve experimented with every method under the sun — Pomodoro, Getting Things Done, The Bucket Technique.

I’ve used tools like Rescuetime, Toggle, and Harvest to track my time.

Rescuetime has been running on my laptop for 5 years — though I must confess I’ve only opened up their emails a dozen times.

Every technique failed.

Part of the challenge has been that I don’t fit well into the standard schedule. I can’t stomach the 9–5.

Some days I’m up at 6am. Some days I’m up until 6am.

I hate meetings before 10am. I need to exercise every day.

When I first started working remote, things began to change. My team adopted more flexible hours, and I started to be much more intentional about my schedule.

With remote, you often have the opportunity to create your ideal work day. No longer are you burdened by the 9-5, lunch at 12, happy hour beers after work paradigm that's been beaten into us for decades.

I started by taking inventory of what I actually needed in a good days work.

  • Exercise/self-care
  • Focused, deep work
  • Collaborative work
  • Social time
  • Meetings
  • Lunch
  • Reading/browsing/research

There’s not much there, yet somehow my typical work day always became remarkably scattered.

Check email. Check Slack. Respond to something. Check analytics. Repeat.

There are millions of things I could do, but only 5 things I need to do.

  • Focus
  • Collaborate
  • Talk to my team
  • Eat
  • Exercise

I decided to design my ideal day around those states.

The results were obvious.

I got more done in less time. I didn’t feel the need to constantly check multiple services. I breathed deeper and got done what needed to be done.

At Holopod, we’ve applied many of those lessons.

Here's how you too can use it to create your ideal work day.

Set up custom statuses for how you want to spend your time.

Reflect and write down your best work states. How do you typically spend your time? How do you want to spend your time? 

You can make it general (eg. focus time), or specific (designing, writing, thinking). Create statuses for each state.

🎧 Focus time

🚴‍♂️ Exercising

☕ Coffee break

🤓 Collaboration time

Create calendar rules to be intentional about your day

Review your calendar on a weekly or daily basis, and fill in the gaps between meetings with your desired work states. Create rules to reflect these.

Add these events to your calendar

Go to your calendar and add events for each style of work. Your meetings will still show up as meetings, but now you can be intentional about the other work you do around those meetings.

Holopod will automatically update your status

When these events occur, your status will automatically update. This lets your team know how to best interact. If you're focused, you won't be disturbed. If you're open to collaboration, set the rule that anyone can message you and jump on a co-working Zoom call.

Be creative and try different statuses to see what works for you!

In the non-scheduled time, Holopod desktop will take care of the rest.

You don't need to schedule your entire work day. Often, I just set an hour of focus time. If my schedule is open and I'm feeling it, I will just keep working heads down. The great thing about Holopod is that outside of your scheduled time, our desktop app will automatically detect your work state.

If you're in the flow, it'll keep you there.

Try this for a few weeks

If you're anything like me, you'll quit most productivity methods after a few days. It takes at least 3 weeks to form a habit. The best part of this method is that you don't need to be perfect. Sometimes you'll waste your focus time - that's ok. However, if you make a conscious effort to create your ideal work day - you'll start to notice a few things.

  • You'll get more good work done
  • You don't have constant Slack, email and Twitter FOMO
  • You are more comfortable "checking out" for the day and enjoying your downtime
  • You'll start to enjoy work more, and look forward to it

At least, that's what happened for me, and I'd love for you to try it out.