When I tell people I “work from home”, I get a lot of the same questions.
“Do you just work in your pjs all day?”
How do you keep yourself from just watching tv all day long?!”
“Do you not just constantly get distracted by all of the things you need to get done around the house?”
I’ve worked remotely for four years now, first with Zapier, and now with Highrise. But my history with it runs deep, as my father has worked remotely my entire life. When I was growing up, his office was across the hall from my bedroom. When he was home (he spends ~200 days a year on the road), work time was work time, and family time was family time. The two very rarely crossed paths, even if he was home all day.
With working remotely comes the freedom to be anywhere in the world you would like to be, so I take great advantage of that. However, being in Nashville one day, Houston the next, and even places like Barcelona where I’m going to spend the summer, isn’t all fun and games. There is still work to be done, and to get that work done I’ve found that having a solid daily routine is key to getting a day’s work in no matter where you are in the world.
I wake up between 6 and 7 and indulge myself with a half hour in bed catching up with things on my phone. I know many people advise against that, but to me it’s the perfect, quiet way to start my morning, doing whatever I want to do before I give the rest of my day to others.
Once out of bed, I go outside for at least a 30 minute walk. Mentally I treat this as my commute to work, except (thankfully!) far healthier and less rage inducing. Even if it’s 20 degrees outside, getting fresh air and your heart rate up is an awesome way to kickstart your day.
After a breakfast of a protein shake and coffee, I sit down at my desk to start my day, usually by 8am. My teammate Chris and I alternate weeks on the queue, so my workload is different from week to week. For a week that I’m answering emails, my morning is generally consumed by that as Europe goes through their afternoons and the east coast starts their days.
In between emails every morning, I also go through our new signups from the day before, to select people to send personalized welcome videos to. This generally takes me about an hour as I’m also answering emails and kicking off the day with my teammates in Slack. By 10am, I’m generally done with my video list for the day, as well as have a good handle on emails.
I try and take a break every single day as close to 11am as possible, and do something physical. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I go to the gym and lift weights for an hour. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I walk for another 30 minutes. When working at home alone, it is very easy to fall into the trap of sitting at your desk at 8am and not looking up again until 6pm. Getting up and away from my desk at a traditional lunch time every day to clear my brain and reset for the afternoon I have found is essential for not only my mental health, but really plays into my own circadian rhythm, which for me is as tied to the sun as one can be.
After grabbing a quick bite to eat, I’m back at it, whether it’s the queue, sending those welcome videos, writing case studies, working on help documentation, meeting with the rest of my teammates about product, or doing any other general housekeeping I might need to get done on any given day. As a team of seven, we’re all extremely flexible on what we do, and many days are different.
Knowing that is really where having a solid daily routine comes into play. Having that chunk of afternoon time mostly “free” to either finish something I was working on the day before, write, or have a meeting if need be leaves me knowing exactly what to expect when going into a day, while also allowing a little wiggle room if something comes up. With my days that structured, I know I’ll most likely have at least an hour in the afternoon where I can get to something if priorities change.
Either around 4 or 5pm, depending on the time of year, I take another 25-30 minute walk to end my day, again almost like an evening commute. Gives me a chance to wind down, stretch my legs, and reflect on the day. After that, I cook dinner from my meal delivery service, and putter around the house for the evening, only checking in on the queue one more time before calling it a night around 9pm.
Keeping a daily routine like that helps me stay sane and productive, no matter where I am. There’s plenty of time for work, for play, for health, for sanity, all baked into a simple structure, and if you’re thinking about remote work, or just starting remote work, I highly recommend setting up a daily routine that works best for you.