Tracy is the CEO of two fully remote companies–The Cheat Sheet and Remoter–and is one of the biggest proponents of the work-from-home revolution. A true Remoter, Tracy has worked remotely for 13 years and during that time he’s cultivated his dream work space complete with self-made desk, brainstorming whiteboard, and lots and lots of sun.
Below he shares the 10-minute morning ritual that keeps him effective and sharp through a long workday, and the reason why books and Oculus Go are his clarity break go-tos.
Where are you based? Asheville, NC
Where do you spend most of your remote work hours? In my home office, but for in-person meet ups Waterbird in Asheville is a favorite.
Are you most productive in the morning or at night? Early bird
Mac or Windows? Mac
Coffee or tea? Lifelong black coffee lover, recently converted to tea
Tracy’s home office setup and decor
What type of desk do you use?
I use a traditional sitting desk, but I’ve tried standing desks, alternating, etc. I typically sit–especially during Google Hangouts–but make sure to move frequently.
What features do you like most about your home office or workspace?
I built a two-station desk that’s the full width of the sun room I use as my office. There’s a lot of light in a sun room and I have nothing but trees and mountains in my view.
I hung a large magnetic whiteboard that I use often. I like to be surrounded by things made by friends and family. I’m a pretty private person so I never did that in typical office settings.
Remote work pros and cons: Tracy’s take
What are the pros and cons of remote work for you?
- Pros: schedule flexibility, travel flexibility, more focus
- Cons: Some days I miss the random consultations that happen in the office kitchen or halls. If you don’t work directly with certain people you have to make an extra effort to get to know them.
Working from home tips and tricks
What habit allows you to be more productive in your day?
I care most about being effective. For me, part of being effective means having the ability to think laterally when called for.
I have a set of morning rituals I generally follow, but one key thing I aim to do every morning is spend 10 minutes brainstorming 10 ideas on a given topic. I start the timer, then pick a topic. I record in Evernote, but I rarely reread what I write. The purpose is to build the skill of ideation and stop filtering my thoughts. When the timer starts to run out, you will come up with some crazy stuff in order to get to 10 ideas!
What are the top 3 items you can’t live without while working remotely? (If you have a brand you love, please name them!)
- Amazon Echo: Beyond controlling lights, I use Echo to set timers and to get answers when I don’t feel like typing or leaving the doc I’m working on.
- Whiteboard: Sometimes it helps to be a bit more physical when thinking and planning. Standing up away from the screens on my desk helps me focus and brainstorm more effectively. Whenever I’m stuck, I go to the whiteboard.
- Oculus Go: Sometimes I just need to chill for a few minutes. I don’t play games as much as I watch undersea videos with turtles, sharks, and other friends.
- Books: I’m staring at a screen 12 hours/day. I use e-books too, but real books are great for clarity breaks.
Answers have been lightly edited and links were added.
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