The last company I worked for was my first remote work job, and it was an adjustment when I first started. It took months to find my rhythm, my biggest hurdle was waking up early enough to complete a full day's work and not working through the evening.
I'm currently the Georgia state director with Spread The Vote, and it's a full-time job. I help manage the nine chapters and dozens of volunteers who are helping Georgia residents get their IDs to live their lives and to show at the polls to vote on election day.
I like to say that my office is the entire state of Georgia. One day I can be home in Atlanta and the next, I’m driving an hour to Macon or further to cities like Savannah or Athens.
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I’m currently planning a re-launch of our Atlanta and Columbus chapters. Spread The Vote is currently in nine states, but Georgia was one of the first states, so I am excited to re-introduce our work in those cities that helped build STV in the state.
Our volunteer-led chapters allow us to operate around the state and reach clients in every community. In preparation for the chapter launches, I have been making phone calls to recruit new partners and sending emails to find and plug in volunteers.
I am also managing our social media page, doing publicity and engagement. Another important and ongoing task is fundraising for specific efforts in the state including the chapter launches, purchasing swag and most importantly paying for the IDs and supporting documents for clients.
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I typically start my morning skimming our social media pages, and interacting and scheduling posts.
Some people find it easy to knock out the hardest tasks of the day in the morning, but most times I like to start with the easier tasks that can take an hour or less so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of the day.
Next, I check my email, respond to any urgent matters, and follow-up with items. After those tasks, I start on my all-important to-do list.
I find that creating a to-do list the night before keeps my day and week organized.
After that, my days vary since some days I’m traveling to meet with clients or partners.
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I had a dedicated space in my last place. I turned my sunroom into an office with a desk, wall calendar, cork board, and a fun chalkboard with a weekly to-do list.
I also had a vibrant accent wall that viewers could see on conference calls, and it was a great conversation starter.
I'll be honest though, many days I would end up working on my couch, but I was most productive at my desk. (Note: If your office has an accent wall, it's easy to distinguish when you are not working from your office on video calls)
I moved a few months ago, and I'm still unpacking, so I mostly work at my dining room table or on my couch.
Sometimes it's really frustrating to not have the option of that dedicated workspace, especially because I like to visually see reminders on post-it notes on the wall and seeing events on my old wall calendar.
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Planning days and keeping to-do lists are my saving graces. I am currently trying a new version of a to-do list on two pages in my notebook where I list any follow-up items from the previous week, tasks for the week, and a day by day breakdown.
Believe it or not, keeping my refrigerator stocked with lunch options and snacks for the week keeps me on track for shorter lunch breaks and snacking throughout the day.
I also don’t waste time thinking through what I will eat for lunch. And because I work from home, I might cook a burger or make a salad for lunch and it’s easy to have the ingredients available to throw together and not waste time running to a fast-food restaurant and returning—it’s also very cost-efficient.
Taking breaks throughout the day is also important; getting up and walking around helps break the monotony of staring at a computer screen.
Sometimes I will walk around while taking phone calls using my headphones or Bluetooth, and since my dining room table is bar height, I can take notes while standing up.
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I love the flexibility!! I can't say that enough, being able to set my own hours or work (for the most part) from anywhere.
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I like to keep it old school with written to-do notes in a notebook.
Something about physically writing tasks and adding sub-notes or crossing out completed tasks on paper is more gratifying than typing it up on the computer.
A very simple tool I use in my Gmail is the starred email feature. In Gmail settings, there is an option to have different color stars or markings like the red and yellow exclamation points. I use those stars to sort my inbox and keep track of emails I need to follow-up on.
If I have a task that is time sensitive, I will create a task on my calendar.
A habit I use to employ and need to get back to is time blocking my day on my calendar with events and using my Google Calendar as an extension of my to-do list. This method is also helpful for getting a visual layout of tasks for the day and seeing where your time is spent.
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Get organized!! Set a schedule and try to stick to it regularly. Have a set start time, and include breaks as well as an end time for the day.
Be prepared to have conversations with family and friends about the boundaries of work time.
That's a real conversation I've had with family who thinks that because I am home, I'm not working. Be firm and know that remote work means flexible hours, but if you don't work during the day, you might be pulling all-nighters to complete tasks.
Also, get out of the house to work. Change your scenery. Find a coffee shop (with wifi) or a library where it's productive to work.
Lastly, find a remote work buddy to work alongside. Being remote doesn't mean you can't be sociable!
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At RemoteHabits we're always trying to improve our interviews, what question should we have asked Alaina Reaves?
Alaina Reaves is the Georgia State Director for Spread The Vote Georgia/Project ID. Alaina has previously worked on political campaigns, in federal, local and state levels of government, and for nonprofit organizations in Georgia and Washington D.C.
In 2012, she graduated from Georgia State University, earning a Bachelors of Science in Public Policy and a certificate in Nonprofit Management & Leadership. Ms. Reaves currently lives in Morrow, just south of the Atlanta airport working on getting great candidates into office and helping build her community with a coalition of local youth advocates.
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