This month marks a year since I ditched the commute and started full-time remote work. I have people ask me about it pretty frequently, so I figured this would be a good time to talk about what I’ve learned and how it’s working out. Warning: some foul language ahead, because there’s nobody here to hear me. Mwahahahaha!
1. Getting into a regular routine is key.
Most people talk about how you need good self-discipline or strong willpower to successfully work remote. To be honest, that’s kind of bullshit, and it makes me sad that some people rule out remote work based on the idea that they don’t have enough self-discipline. Here’s a secret I learned a while back: almost nobody has much self-discipline or willpower. But it doesn’t matter. To quote John Ortberg,”Habits eat willpower for breakfast.”
(Aside: I’m currently reading his book Soul Keeping. It’s basically Dallas Willard lite, and I love it.)
If you set up good habits, and get settled into a nice comfy
rut routine, it makes remote work 100% easier. Habits and routines mean you don’t have to make decisions. Decisions are hard. Avoid them whenever possible.
2. If your employer doesn’t have a tasking/ToDo solution, find your own.
Seriously. Keeping all the stuff you’re supposed to be working on in your mental RAM or your email inbox is the dumbest idea ever. Give yourself a week or two to test out Asana, Producteev, Jell, Any.Do or Trello (all free, BTW) and figure out which one works best for you. THEN USE IT RELIGIOUSLY.
You need a way of recording what you need to do, when it needs to be done, and when you completed it. Even if your company doesn’t do time tracking (neither of my remote employers do, and that was a huge relief all by itself).
Remote working is based on earning trust and getting your shit done without supervision. A tasking solution means you can always prove the latter, which makes the former a lot easier.
3. No matter how introverted you are, you will get lonely.
There’s a reason the show on History Channel is called Alone, and not Holy Shit, I’m Starving and Surrounded by Bears.
People have a hard time with solitude. We crave the company of others. I’m an INFP. I’m pretty comfortable being all by myself. But after a month or so, I started planning for at least one or two days a week working from a coffee shop. The baristas know my usual order, we chat a little (but they know when to let me work) and I don’t catch myself talking to the cat nearly as often.
So there you have it. Three valuable things I’ve learned in a year of remote working. And here’s a bonus thing I learned: It’s totally worth the effort. It certainly beats having commute-induced panic attacks and spending two hours a day stuck in my car, anyway.