The phrase “work smarter, not harder” is thrown around in self-help and productivity circles constantly, yet it’s hardly ever backed with actionable advice. But with the shift to remote-first, decentralized workplaces, self-motivated productivity has never been more important.

So over the last week, we had a chat with the team here at Ascend Salesforce Consulting and asked them all what they do to stay on task and remain productive throughout the work week.

Here’s what we found:

Focus on deep, intentional work

In the modern workplace, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to complete a task, just that it gets completed. Deep work is focused and highly intentional. It allows you to minimize the hours you put in while maximizing your output. More meaningful work gets done while work-life-balance goes up in tandem.

The idea of deep work originally came about in the smash-hit productivity book The 4-Hour Workweek, and has garnered a significant amount of attention in recent years. Honing in on productivity allows workers to regain autonomy over their personal lives without having to sacrifice business success in the process. Additionally, listening to instrumental background music helps some of the developers concentrate better. On the other hand, another developer stated that he opts for a music free workspace and prefers the rhythmic sound of a grandfather clock in his room.

Create a dedicated workspace

No matter what you do for a living, it is critical that you have a dedicated place where you can sit down and do it each day. For some, this might be an organized desk space at the office, while others might prefer to use their guest bedroom at home.

It doesn’t matter what your workspace looks like, just that you have one. This significantly reduces the number of distractions that you have to work around throughout the day and allows you to focus on the deep work that we talked about above.

This is especially important when working from home. It can be incredibly tempting to lounge out on the couch all day with your laptop and work while watching TV, but the people who do this tend to get much less done throughout the day, while also harming their interpersonal relationships.

It is important to focus on one thing at a time, dedicate all your attention to it, and execute at the highest level possible. Separating work and family spaces is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you remain focused on both when you’re with them.

Active Breaks

The use of a timer during the workday to remind you to move around a little is especially important in the programming world. Several Ascend developers also recommended the use of a standup desk. Moving around more throughout the day has proven mental and physical benefits. The Ascend developers also agreed that leaving their code and coming back to it with fresh eyes has allowed them to solve problems faster.

When seeking to optimize your workflow and increase productivity, it is important to note that it is often not just a process of simply finding trendy hacks or tricks and implementing them into your life. Instead, it is usually a lengthy process of trial and error.

Each individual must try out and test different productivity processes until they found out what works for them. Over time, these seemingly small actions compound and make a meaningful difference in work-life balance.