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Surya Rajendhran

Working in a different timezone can be awesome!

Productivity, Remote work2 min read

Why the traditional workday didn't work for me

In the book, 'Power of when', Micheal Breus talks about how most of us fit into a chronotype and that determines how our biological cycles are dictated. There are four chronotypes:

  1. Dolphin
  2. Lion
  3. Bear
  4. Wolf

Each chronotype is unique in how their energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. For example, Lions are early risers and can get a lot done before breakfast time; Bears are most productive mid-morning and early afternoon; Wolfs are nocturnal workers; Dolphins are evening workers.

The most common chronotype is the Bear and so am I. Given that statistic, you can see how many social customs and rituals are designed to suit the Bear chronotype. Such as drinking and socialising around 6 PM. But unfortunately, the typical workday is not. Most meetings are scheduled mid-morning which is the most productive time for Bears, effectively reducing peak performance time by half.

For more info on this, you can read this wonderful article by Bert Baker.

How working in a different timezone changed that

So I am 5 and a half hours behind most of my coworkers and that means when I am sitting to work in the morning, most of them are probably sound asleep. This comes with a few advantages:

  1. This means I get more work done in the morning as I get to focus without distractions and enter a deep state of work.
  2. As an added bonus, weekly standups, check-ins and other meetings are typically scheduled for my late afternoon (mid-morning for my co-workers) which is the most social time for Bears.

How to do it right

Although I mentioned all the good stuff above, I also know that it took me a little while to get to this stage of productivity, so here are a few tips to help you be more productive while working remotely:

  1. Clarify the overlap

    Whether it's your bosses or your co-workers, let them know what your working hours are. Let them know how long you will be available and schedule meetings within that time.

  2. Don't forget when your workday begins and ends

    Many people look to social cues to begin certain activities, most people will wake up when others are waking up, eat when others are eating and by the same logic work while others are working. So make sure to have an internal clock of when your workday begins and ends.

  3. Make the overlap count

    Given that your coworkers might have less time to communicate with you, make it count. Schedule meetings within that interval, prioritise the right meetings and ensure that your absence is not a blocker for your coworkers' productivity.

Pro tip: You can add a second timezone to your Google Calendar (under Settings → General → Time zone)

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