After being a consultant and living in hotels and airports I took the leap to quit my job and double down on freelancing.
I am a UX Designer / Usability-Engineer and specialized in mobile and web applications. I already had a few clients during my studies but it took a while to get high-quality clients after quitting my full-time job.
At the beginning, I took on programming jobs as well as project management jobs. Only after a year or so I could make choices about the kind of work I took on.
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Currently I split my time between own (side) projects and freelance UX consulting for medium sized software companies. As a UX freelancer I am defining specifications, wireframes and new products while reviewing old applications for usability issues.
The other part of my time goes into our side projects like digital hiking guides, How to hire the perfect UX Designer, WhatsApp Memo-Bot for notes and ideas and a german DIY blog where I support my wife on the tech side (as well as a few Android Apps which have been running since 2008 now...)
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Typically I get up around 6am whenever my little one wakes me up ;-)
After some family-time and breakfast I take my son to the daycare and get back into the home-office which is a separate room in our home.
Mostly I try to focus on one topic each day.
For example one day could be freelance only, packed with calls and productive time to create wireframes where another day can be focussed on one of our side projects.
My wife is also working from home, so we have our lunch around noon and continue to work either on our own projects or together - depending on the daily focus.
In the afternoon we collect our little one and spent some family time. Most of the days we split our afternoons so my wife and I can each have one or two "working afternoons" and the other one takes care of our son meanwhile.
Most of the weekdays we put in another few hours of work after 8pm.
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I have a dedicated room for the home office where I can close the door, have calls or listen to music during productive time blocks.
I try to keep my desk as clean as possible, but still haven't found a decent way to separate our side projects and in the end I have a lot of notes and papers on different topics. Every 2-3 weeks I take an hour or so to clean up and get all of the stuff sorted again.
For my freelancing gigs I work at the clients offices from time to time but only to have important meetings or discussions. I avoid coffeshops or similar because I tend to drift off due to the busy environment.
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Before having a child I could just crank trough the work day from 7am to 10pm if it was necessary.
Nowadays the day is highly scheduled around my son, his eating and sleeping routines.
Also I need to coordinate almost all meetings with my wife too as we split taking care of the little one and each one having businesses of our own.
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The most challenging part right now is splitting our time between our own projects and taking care of our child. It takes a lot of scheduling and coordination between the two of us
In terms of working together, you get to discover a whole new side of your partner when you start working together on the same thing. Work communication can be a lot different, especially if you are highly motivated to get stuff done and succeed.
It took us a while to balance how we communicate "at work" and how to collaborate on work when you are also living together as a couple. But now it is pretty balanced, we mostly know when to talk about what and when to "shut down" any work related talk...
The great thing about both working from home is you get to spend a lot of time together. You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner as a family and sometimes you can even spontaneously take a day off if the mountains or lakes are calling. So to sum it up, its a challenge - but worth it!
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I use Gmail and Skype or Hangouts for communication.
My projects and tasks are in Trello where I try to document every activity I do (Why?)
I had days where I could not remember what I actually got done in the last hours so for my own sanity I "log" almost everything...
Lately I started to use Dropbox Paper to structure my thoughts on projects. I really came to like it if you keep the documents as short as possible. I also had a good experience collaborating in Paper on the launch for Indie Ignitor - where I worked together with a partner for the first time.
I tried RescueTime - but it is not really useful if your days task vary and you cant compare them.
I had good experience blocking Facebook, Twitter and the likes to avoid "waking up in a social feed" from time to time.
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In Trello I have a list where I force myself to only add 2-3 tasks which are the most important / impactful ones each day. And I try to define those 2-3 tasks either the day before or early in the morning before checking any emails.
There is a big ugly backlog right next to it of course, but only having 2-3 items to focus on helps me stay on track.
I try not to react to emails immediately.
I only check the inbox 4-5 times a day to evaluate whether one email needs my immediate attention. Some emails can sit there for a few days until I have another focus-day on that particular topic.
Sometimes it also helps if I write down the desired "end state" of one task instead of a general topic. For example I'd create a task and call it "Complete and send Interview for Remotehabits" instead of the neutral "Remotehabits Interview".
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I love being able to decide the "focus of the day" for myself.
Most of the time I can just choose the topic (or side project) which I am most motivated about right now. So I can use the flow of my motivation and don't need to delay working on X only because somebody is telling me to do Y instead.
Of course you always have those days where either one of your projects needs urgent attention (like Google blocking it for whatever reason) or your freelance client has set up a scheduled 3-hour call.
But in general I am free to choose what I work on. That's the best!
And yeah, I can take care of my little one and see him grow up every day...
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Not having multiple colleagues around to just fool around or have a chat about random things...
Having to sit in front of the computer all the time and mostly not being able to "walk through the meeting room while drawing on a whiteboard and discussing stuff"
Not being able to gauge the actual emotional state of my colleagues / team members / employees when I talk to them or write emails back and forth.
Sometimes a 10 minute face-to-face meeting would be 10x as productive as having to set up a call, video-sharing, explaining, etc.
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At RemoteHabits we're always trying to improve our interviews, what question should we have asked Patric Schmid?
Patric is a UX Designer and Usability Engineer by trade and a digital entrepreneur by heart. His passions are digital products and services and hiking in the bavarian alps. He could not live a day without his multiple side projects.
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