Many of us have been remote for a long time now, and some are choosing a hybrid work schedule even after the pandemic. In light of that, using productivity hacks to stay on top of things no matter where you're working from is the perfect new year's resolution for 2021.

Here, we talk to HubSpot engineer Rob Campion about what he's learned over the last couple of years about staying productive in a world of distractions. 

What is your role, what team are you on, and how long have you been at HubSpot?

I'm Rob Campion, the Engineering Lead of Growth Onboarding and I started at HubSpot in March 2015.

What has your remote productivity level been like compared to the in-office experience? What are the factors at play that can take you off track?

Honestly, my productivity has now leveled-out to similar or higher than office levels. Getting and remaining focused at the office can be difficult, but with the right set up at home, and by turning off distractions (notifications, phones, etc.) I find it easier to get into a flow state

Factors that take you off track → solutions:

  • Long-running slack thread → start a quick zoom
  • Notifications overload → go into do not disturb (more below)
  • Too many meetings → block off your calendar
  • Outside work distractions → get great headphones, enable do not disturb on your phone

Even more so when you're WFH/remote, Slack can be all-consuming. How do you make sure you optimize how you use Slack to your benefit?

  • Biggest tip: don’t be afraid to go into Do Not Disturb mode, either on your laptop or on Slack itself:
    • Slack supports this via the ‘/dnd’ command. The best thing about it is your teammates know you’re busy, and they can override it for urgent questions.
    • Mac supports a “turn off all notifications” do-not-disturb mode which I find better, as everything is muted. Be sure to let your team know if you’re going to be in this mode for a sustained period (in case they’re trying to reach you). 
  • Leave channels that don’t offer you value. Slack is non-stop. There’s always interesting content somewhere. However, if a channel doesn’t provide me with work value (with a few exceptions), I leave. 
  • Learn slack shortcuts.
  • The latest Slack client allows you to group channels, collapse them, keep them muted etc. I group related channels and mute certain groups that I only check on infrequently.

How are you using Zoom meetings effectively, without fueling Zoom fatigue?

  • Have ‘no video’ meetings, e.g. 1:1s.
  • Take calls outside your home. E.g. for meetings that allow it, I’ve cycled to the nearest park to take them. 
  • Block off GSD time in your calendar, ensuring you get breaks and have heads-down peace. 
  • Schedule a ‘No-Meetings Day’ every so often
  • Make a clear ‘start time’ and ‘end time’ in your calendar (e.g. 9 am - 5 pm)
  • Be honest and let someone know if the conversation needs to move on (thereby speeding up your meetings).
  • Take lunch breaks daily (e.g. 12 - 1).

What are your favorite shortcuts to being more effective with your time?

It's hard to point to a specific one. Ensure you learn shortcuts for every tool you (regularly) use. Look at areas that slow you down (e.g. places you use your mouse a lot), and see if you can speed it up with keyboard shortcuts. 

 Improving shortcut knowledge

  • Be proactive with whatever tool you’re using and look for a shortcut cheat sheet (e.g. gmail, github, slack, mac, your editor).
  • Create a ‘Shortcuts’ bookmark folder in your browser and add cheat sheets to it.
  • Once created, right-click the folder and select ‘Open All in New Window.’
  • Leave the window open in the background and reference it.
  • It’s a gradual process, you won’t master them straight away.

What resources would you recommend someone checks out if they are looking for ways to be more productive with their time?

  • Ask your team, or an individual you know has great output: 
    • What do they do to improve their productivity levels?
    • Would they be open to pair-programming to solve a problem?
  • Check out this great book on how to improve your engineer skills and efficiency.

Interested in working with a team that's just as interested in how you work as what you're working on? Check out our open positions and apply.

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