Whether you’re a proponent of full-fledged lifestyle design, popularized by the likes of Tim Ferriss, you can at the very least be in support of streamlining your life.
Digital marketer Peter Schroeder is a big fan of productivity hacks, and he leverages them to make his life a little easier. He likes to tell people that he’s gone from working in a suit to working in his pajamas. While he got his start at a bank, he found that work environment to be too corporate and bureaucratic and felt that “someone who wants to make a difference doesn’t exactly thrive in a corporate environment.”
So in an effort to redesign his work life, Schroeder discovered that remote work, enabled by tech tools and processes, would be key to creating the kind of enhanced, productive work life he’s always wanted. “What I really wanted was to work remotely and to have the flexibility to work from anywhere, to work my own hours and to be more productive with my time,” he remembered.
So he jumped ship from the bank to a fledgling startup housed in a tech incubator. While he managed to escape the organizational hierarchy of corporate life, Schroeder quickly ran into another huge problem.
“When you sit in a room with people, there are ideas flying around nonstop. All day, every day. And it’s just not productive. I really saw remote work as the perfect structure to be able to thrive in an early business, because you can’t tap someone on the shoulder and say you have an idea every ten minutes,” he said. “It’s more structured so people can be more productive.”
For Schroeder, working in a tight-knit office environment created the unfortunate situation where he was pulled into random meetings, otherwise known as the impromptu brainstorming session, all the time. Some of these random meetings would run for half the day, which meant that he wasn’t getting any work done.
While many consider in-person work to be one of the greatest perks of working in an office, could it also be poisonous to productivity? And if we throw the possibility of remote work into the mix – could removing the element of in-office work actually make us more productive? After all, it is now widespread knowledge that the open office plan kills productivity – so that same idea can and should be applied to the random meeting.
That’s when Schroeder moved on to a customer acquisition role with SchoolKeep, a New York City startup that has gone fully-remote and allows its 20 team members to work anywhere across the US and European time zones. It’s his latest experiment with work life redesign, which allows him to collaborate with his teammates remotely.
He points out that working in a remote role has not only increased his productivity but has also groomed him into being a stronger communicator.
Schroeder notes that since he’s not “physically” there to tell his teammates about something, he’ll elaborate more on the notes that he sends out – being extra careful to add more “color and context.” And believe it or not, he thinks that taking an extra moment to communicate thoroughly on Slack is far more efficient than having an in-person brainstorming session – as the latter has the potential to become a huge time waster.
The digital workaround for the in-person brainstorming session? Schroeder suggests asynchronous collaboration which is a way to work with remote teammates across a number of different time zones. Instead of meeting in person to brainstorm, one could open up a Google Doc or Trello card and simply drop their ideas in there as they come to mind.
Now that Schroeder can go through a working day relatively unscathed from the random meeting, he can focus on the things he really cares the most about – getting work done.
“Anything I could be doing in a marketing role, I can collaborate with someone remotely. I can be just as efficient if not more because we can visually make notes. When you’re working remotely, things are actually getting done,” he said. “But when you’re brainstorming in person, while the ideas are flowing, the ideas might just come in one ear and out the other.”
So if you’re stuck in a work situation where random meetings are really grating on your productivity (and nerves), consider Schroeder’s approach and give the remote working life a go.