Productivity & working remotely



On some days, working from home feels like such a luxury. On others—when Skyler is having a sweet conversation with the babysitter, or Hudson has come in to show me something for a fifth time, or I can’t stop lingering by the pantry to seek out a snack—it feels impossible. I’m constantly trying to figure out the right balance between having an established office set-up and working remotely.

There was an article in Fast Company a while back that touted the benefits of setting up shop at a cafe—like the creativity stimulated by a change of environment, and the end to co-worker interruptions that comes with anonymity. (Swap “co-worker” for “pre-schooler” in my case.)

And it’s been suggested in studies that the hum of a cafe—a certain decibel level of constant noise from conversation and espresso machines—can boost productivity. Some noise (around 70 decibels) is better than none. There are even apps that will recreate the ambient noise for you, like Noisli, Ambiance, of Coffitivity—from which you can select “morning murmur” at a cafe as your soundtrack.

Funny fact: I’ve actually used a coffee shop soundtrack at a coffee shop when the conversation happening beside me was too interesting to tune out.

What I’ve learned is that it pays to be prepared.

Here’s my set-up: 


The right bag. I love this Midi tote that Daame (“laptop bags for women”) sent me to try. It has a pocket for everything, so I can quickly see if I’ve forgotten to put anything back in its place. And they designed it for women who travel or commute with their tech often—the result of people’s wishlists and solved pain-points. (See below—they’re giving one away to a reader!)

Laptop. I have a 13″ MacBook Air.

Wireless mouse and mousepad. Sometimes I look a little crazy when I pull this out, but I’m so much faster (and my wrist feels so much better) if I use a mouse.

Paper and pen. I’m still an analog notetaker at heart. (Though I’d love it if someone would really school me in Evernote one day.)

A planner. See above. I can’t quit them: I feel like getting a new one is like getting a new chance at being organized.

Noise-canceling earbuds. These Bose earbuds are my pick because they’re amazing on an airplane. But they’re great in a cafe, too, and they have a mic for making phone calls. (For which I promise I always step outside.)

Wallet, keys, sunglasses, and a bottle of water. 

IPhone—that can act as a HotSpot. I’ve been foiled by slow Wifi or 2-hr time limits. If you want to be certain your productivity won’t be shot when someone starts downloading a movie at the table next to you, this can be a backup. (That said, one day when the connection was lagging, I just opened a document offline and started writing and I got so much more done! It removed the temptation to check Instagram.)

I’m curious: Do you work remotely? (It seems like so many offices are going to open cubicle plans these days, how can you not?) What’s your setup when you do? Do you make rules for yourself—like only checking email or social media at certain times or intervals? How do you stay productive? 

Read on for a great giveaway


Win: Daame has offered to give a bag of choice to a reader (up to $465 value) and donate $250 in her name to Ambassadors for Sustained Health. (Daame gives 10% of all their profits to charities, ASH in particular, committed to getting girls out of the cycle of poverty by empowering the community at hand.)

To enter: visit Daame to see which bag you’d choose if you won. Next, come back and leave a comment below. All comments are entered into the drawing and if you’d like to increase your chances to win, follow these giveaway steps. Open until September 1st, 11:59pm PST. A winner will be announced on September 2nd. I’m sorry—U.S. residents only.

Discount code: Daame is also offering $25 off any Everest or Midi tote through the end of September with the code H&TxDaame.

Good luck! 

P.S. More productivity tips and a calendar wall.

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Warm trips and cold planes


78707, NEW YORK, NEW YORK- Monday May 28, 2012. Alexa Chung leaves her apartment in New York to catch a flight to London. Alexa was dragging a big almos as big as she is behind her. Photograph: © **FEE MUST BE AGREED PRIOR TO USAGE** **E-TABLET/IPAD & MOBILE PHONE APP PUBLISHING REQUIRES ADDITIONAL FEES** LOS ANGELES OFFICE:+1 310 822 0419 LONDON OFFICE:+44 20 8090 4079

What’s your typical air travel outfit?

As we were flying back from Hawaii this weekend, I looked across the aisle and spotted a woman in a down jacket, asleep. It looked so nice: the warmth and the rest, both of which can be elusive.

I always bring long pants (with pockets, of course) and a long-sleeved shirt expressly for the plane ride—and as I’ve shared before, I always have a pair of warm socks in my carry-on pouch of essentials—but it’s always still colder than I’d like on flights.

Still, it would never have occurred to me to bring a down jacket to Hawaii, where I gladly spent the entire week basically wearing a cover-up over alternating bathing-suits. Some of the actual clothes I brought never even made it out of the suitcase! The more I thought about it (and the colder the cabin got), however, the more it makes sense: It could serve as a jacket, a blanket, or a pillow—and they make really light ones these days. This one even folds into itself, it’s so small.

The other day I read another surprising idea on Flygirl that has stuck with me: pack a disposable heat wrap. It’s a bit extreme, but it might be worthwhile for getting some sleep on a long-haul flight.

Some other ideas for keeping warm on cold planes (when you’re otherwise packing light for the heat): 
Tuck a HeatTech inner layer into your carry-on.
Make a habit of bringing a warm scarf that can double as a blanket—or buy an actual travel blanket.
Tote an empty thermos and a favorite tea. Hot water is always available.

Do you get cold on flights? How do you prepare? I usually layer up, but it’s trickier when you’re going someplace warm. 

P.S. Travel Gear for a baby or toddler. 

[Alexa Chung © Sidenote: dress by Stella McCartney—similar here]

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