Do you struggle to separate your work life from your personal life now that they both take place in your home? Do you find yourself falling back into old office work habits rather than leading the more flexible lifestyle you intended to? Are you finding it difficult to know when and how to communicate with a remote work team or clients? After reading the book Remote - Office Not Required by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, I applied some of the authors’ advice and it changed the way I work remotely.
Tip from the book: Change your environment (page 228)
A very common reason people struggle to work from home is because there can be a lot of distractions. However, this is true for the normal office setting too. Have you ever experienced that open floor plan cubicle layout? Working remotely vs. working in an office is discussed throughout the entire book, but the best section is arguably the last one: “Life as a remote worker” where the authors share all sorts of tips & tricks. My personal favorite, and the advice I practice most regularly in my own remote-work routine, is to get “a change of scenery”. Sometimes simply working from a coffee shop for a couple hours of the day gets me into the productive mindset where I feel most efficient.
How to apply this:
- Co-working spaces - If you love a routine and you're committed to a certain city/location, signing up for a co-working space membership may be a great option for you. It could be your office away from your home-office.
- Coffee Shops - Are you a caffeine addict who thrives in a setting with background noise? I am right there with you! Coffee shops are fun to work from because there are so many different types and an endless amount of treats to fuel your work day.
- Libraries - A great option that is both quiet and budget-friendly is working from a local library. Not only do they typically have free wifi, a lot of libraries often offer printing services and other perks you may miss from an office setting as well.
- Work-cations - If you’re truly untethered to a specific work location and you have a nomadic spirit, try traveling to a different city and working from there for a few days, weeks or even months!
Tip from the book: Set yourself free from the 9 to 5 (page 22)
According to Upwork’s research, 71% of people start freelancing because they want more flexibility in their schedules, but one can quickly forget those original intentions. Humans are creatures of habit, so if you are someone who has been working the same schedule for years and years, it will likely require a dedicated effort to break the familiar cycle when you start working for yourself. A great piece of advice the book recommends is setting yourself free from the 9:00AM to 5:00PM average work schedule.
How to apply this:
- Pursue your passions. Are you someone who loves to swim in the summer? Schedule a long lunch break and soak in those midday rays. Is your Spanish language group meeting at the local library on Thursday at 10:00AM? Take a coffee break in the morning.
- Change up your work schedule to fit your needs. Do you have to drop off the kids in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon? Have you been avoiding scheduling your routine dental appointment and blaming it on work? Make a point to schedule meetings and heads down time around important events in your personal schedule.
- If you’re still struggling to break free from the grip of the Monday-Friday 9-5 routine, here’s a couple of tips you can try:
- Block specific chunks of time on your calendar and set reminders for yourself so that you stick to the breaks you have planned for yourself.
- Log off early one afternoon and start early the next day. Or vice versa - log on late in the morning and work later into the evening.
- Working on the weekend isn’t for everyone, but we can’t always control when our inspiration strikes. Try working for a couple hours on a Saturday or Sunday. It’s amazing how productive you can be when you’re feeling in the zone.
- If you work with other remote team members, share your calendar and change your status on messaging channels accordingly so that they know when you’re available and when you may be delayed to respond.
Tip from the book: Let go of needing answers ASAP (page 77)
It seems like each day, the need for instant gratification grows stronger and more urgent. Who is taking over while your client is on vacation next month? How many rounds of revisions does your client expect? When will your team/agency be meeting next? We all want answers and we want them now! But that’s not always possible, and more often than not, it’s not necessary to get an answer right away. The authors of the book recommend the following etiquette.
How to apply this:
- Email - If you can wait several hours for an answer to your question, consider sending it in an email.
- Instant Message - If you need an answer within the next few minutes, consider sending an instant message.
- Call - If something is urgent and requires an answer right away, try a good ol’ trusty phone call.
- Notes - A bonus tip that I came up with because it works for me personally is to add questions that can wait several days for an answer to my meeting notes/agenda document if I have a standing meeting with that person.
These recommendations have only scratched the surface of the wisdom that Remote - Office Not Required by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson has to offer. I highly recommend giving it a read. And remember! Working remotely looks different for everyone and it takes a little time to develop a custom routine that works best for you.
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