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Four tips for “remote control”

Devon Brooks on staying productive out of the office

Dev Brooks, founder of Dev's Development.

“I call myself ‘on location’ because wherever I am, that’s where I’m working,” says Devon Brooks, advisor, activist, Rogers Talks speaker, founder of Dev’s Development and co-founder of Blo Blow Dry Bar. Having worked remotely for the last three years, the Vancouver-based entrepreneur and mother of two has some tips for staying focused, productive and organized while on the road.

1. Manage your time

For scheduling the week, Brooks is a proponent of “time-blocking”: assigning a specific amount of time to a single task. “Every morning, after my coffee, after I’ve eaten something healthy, maybe moved my body, I’ll sit in front of my computer and time-block the day based on my priorities,” she says. “When the business itself has a lot of layers, time-blocking allows me to switch from mindset to mindset with more fluidity.”

2. Stay connected

Brooks uses videoconferencing service Zoom to check in with her team. “It has a solid connection, it allows you to invite many people, you get Zoom Rooms [for in-person or remote collaboration],” she explains. “It also allows you to record, so you can keep a log of all your calls.” She’s also a fan of Slack and Asana, particularly the latter’s new tool, Instagantt, which lets you create timeline charts for scheduling work. “I’m also really big on Google Drive because I find it helpful to have documents live, in a place where everyone has access, and you can see and track changes.”

3. Set boundaries

Like most entrepreneurs, Brooks often feels the pull to work all day, every day. Setting boundaries allows her to spend time with her husband and two children, guilt-free. “I’m perfectly happy to put on my out-of-office auto-responder,” she says, offering the option of her cell number only in an emergency. “Setting expectations is really important... [but] it’s [also] important to let people know where you are.”

4. Schedule breaks

Brooks is just as mindful about her well-being as she is about her business, inserting restorative breaks throughout the day. “Often, I’ll schedule windows so I have enough time to move from one conversation to the next, break down all my notes, recalibrate and prepare for the next conference call,” she says. “Even if it’s just 15 minutes to step out into the fresh air, recharge mentally and spiritually, and be on my best game for the next call.”