Whether working in a traditional office setting or working remotely, finding the willpower to be stay productive is never an easy task. We asked Moonlighters about how they organize hectic schedules and stay focused.
Most contractors on Moonlight are software developers, they have remote working experience, and they work 40+ hours a week. We want to share the results from these experienced contractors to help make your work more productive!
Work setting and focus
Over 50% of Moonlighters work from home. This matches industry trends, The New York Times recently reported that 43% of employed Americans spent some time working remotely or at home, a 4% increase from 2012.
While working from home can be great for some, others are more prone to distractions. Alex Loukissas suggests “avoid Multi-tasking like the plague; disable all notifications across devices.” Need inspiration? Lifehacker writes about ten ways to get rid of distractions while working.
Design startup Invision describes multitasking as “the equivalent of eating junk food and expecting to run a marathon” and reported it induces stress in a recent article. Harvard Business Review has tips on how to stay productive and avoid distractions while working from home including establishing working hours and setting boundaries.
Communication and management
94% of Moonlighters communicate through conversational messaging platforms like Slack or Hangouts. Companies are moving away from email and switching to platforms that encourage open discussion. Inc.com tells the story of why companies are cutting out emails, managers, and meetings.
Over 70% of Moonlighters have one or zero meeting per day, and about 25% have 2-3 meetings per day. To stay productive during meetings and save time, one moonlighter suggests “schedule time for meetings and chitchat in advance.”
With a trend towards cutting down on meetings, teams are looking for ways to cut out the “Useless Recurring Meeting.” Virtual meetings can be another way to stay connected when not everyone is in the same location. Moonlighter Laura likes to have clients send feedback ahead of time to reduce the length and number of meetings.
"One way I cut down on meetings is by asking clients to send video feedback on the work, or structured written feedback. This cuts down on the amount of time we need to be face-to-face, describing changes."
Staying organized and on track
Make your list. Whether it’s digital or written down, Moonlighters like keeping lists. Popular apps include Wunderlist, Trello, or Carrot (that one's for you procrastinators) to keep lists organized and stay on track.
“Always build a list. That way your brain doesn’t have to carry around your lists for you."
Don’t let email take over. "Have certain, distraction-free, periods during the day. No emails, Slack, etc. - only you, music and the code," says Moonlighter Jarosław. To stay focused on your task at hand, Tim Ferris suggests only checking your email twice a day. After you select two times you plan on checking your email, inform the rest of your team so they don’t think you’re ignoring them. You can do the same thing on Slack or other messaging platforms to make sure you have time for deep work and productive sprints of time.
"The biggest problem for me when starting out my day is the distraction from constant notifications that I receive from various apps. To solve this, I put my Mac and phone on "do not disturb" for the first few hours. I still get the most important notifications and calls that I care about on my fitness band. So I'm in control of how I plan and start my day."
Timing. While the majority of Moonlighters prefer to work in the mornings, many also like to work on and off throughout the day as well. Thrive Global has advice on how to break down your day to find the most productivity. Apparently, the most productive hour of the day is right before lunch!
One suggestion from the Moonlight community is to use a Pomodoro timer when you work. This helps you stay focused on getting things done for short periods of time, and gives you free time to relax and take a walk in-between!
"If you find yourself with coder's block, perhaps give the Pomodoro technique a try. Either way, take regular breaks to GO OUTSIDE!"
Caffeine, wifi, and music
Must-haves for Moonlighters while working? Coffee or tea, followed by a nice atmosphere, internet connection, and music. Here are some favorite working playlists from the group:
We hope you found some productivity tips that will help you do better work, and stay more focused. Do you have any extra ways to stay focused? Send them over to the Moonlight team!