Working from home (a listicle)

No, I don’t actually have any idea what you HAVE to be doing RIGHT NOW… as many listicles claim to know. Nobody really knows, especially when it comes to this subject. Working remotely is something I’ve been trying to get better at for many years now. We’ve all heard the stories about the best and worst aspects of working from home. Some are attracted to the comfort of working in pajamas from your couch, while others are repelled by the idea that they would have it that “easy” in their jobs. Some despise the idea of having to go work all day in a PLACE with PEOPLE, and others dread the isolation of being by yourself all the time. I still wrestle with some of these feelings myself on a day-to-day basis, and have put a lot of effort into finding the answers over the years…

Who’d guess that we’d ALL be doing it someday?!

I’m still trying to figure out all the best practices for working remotely for myself, and expect I will be for a long time. No matter what anyone tells you, there are no universal truths for the best way to work from home – everyone is different, and life circumstances change. What makes for a comfortable chair when you’re 23 can feel like a CIA torture device when you’re 43. A room that feels perfect for working when you’re by yourself may not give you more than 10 seconds to focus if there are kids around.

However, for myself, there are two indispensible techniques that I feel like I’ve gotten pretty good at, and thought I’d share:

  1. BUDGET YOUR TIME LIKE A CRAZY PERSON

    People make fun of me because of how busy my calendar looks, but I’m not sure how anyone can run a business effectively without documenting exactly what they spend all their time on. Again, everyone is different, but for myself (and for most creatives, I suspect) the temptation to meander in taskflow is just too great. You start in the paying project you need to be working on, and oh look my email inbox is a mess and needs to be organized, but here’s a newsletter with a link to a great article that has a ton of links to other tools I’ve been meaning to check out, especially this tool that would help specifically with the project I should be working on right now…… DAMMIT! If I didn’t have some kind of time-blocking structure to organize and track everything I work on during the day, it would be a free-for-all.

    Personally, I track just about everything in my life using Google Calendar because color blocks make sense to me. For example, I can tell exactly how much time I spend on billable projects because they’re all indicated by red blocks on my calendar. By far my favorite tool for using Google Calendar on my Android phone is Calengoo… it is amazingly powerful. Just try it and see!

  2. STRETCH!

    There’s something incredible that happens when you do the simple act of stretching during the workday. As a web developer, we get so “wired in” and stuck in our heads, that it becomes vital for us to do something to reconnect with our bodies somehow, whether we realize it or not. It really doesn’t matter what your stretching routine is, I’d say you should just be consistent with it. My own body/mind connection drug of choice for many years has been Aikido. This video has always been one of my favorites (see the 4:00 mark for some stretching examples).

My two cents on the subject… wishing everyone a smooth and productive next few weeks working from home!

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