Rose Barrett
Digital Wrangler and Co-founder
October 07, 2019

Interview with Rose, a co-founder growing the impact of remote work

Rose balances part-time SEO work with leading Grow Remote—see how she optimizes her time to build a community and resource for remote workers.

How did you get started with remote work?

I'll draw a slight distinction between "working remotely" and being a "remote worker." I got tuned into the idea of working remotely many moons ago! It might have been through reading a book from Tim Ferris (or a similar author) that I really took on the idea that there could be location flexibility or independence from the work I would do (be that client work or working for a company).

For me, initially, it was about working for myself and being able to serve my clients from where I wanted to be.

But over time, I started to learn more about remote working as an employee, and I was brought on the journey of Grow Remote. From there I actually took on a part-time remote position this year which has freed me up to do so much with developing Grow Remote as well as my own client work.

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What are you working on?

Mostly, these days, it's Grow Remote. I'm a lover of documentation, so we are currently building out our Wiki so the community has a reference point and we can help our Chapter Leads have all the tools they need to do what they do.

In my client work, I'm working on a few SEO projects and doing some consultancy. I find I have a nice mix between video meetings for either Grow Remote or my client work and then periods of deeper analytical stuff. It's a balance of what I enjoy!

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What's your typical work routine?

I'm scheduled in the mornings on my part-time remote role, which keeps me "honest" in getting up at the same time and getting my day started. I'm then done after lunchtime and move over to a mix of client work or Grow Remote.

I block out certain days for specific tasks and projects, which really helps me to know what I should be working on.

I will work late a few days a week (ok maybe more than that), but we're in a high growth phase with Grow Remote, and this won't be forever.

I try to take a day off at the weekend and finish a little earlier a few days during the week.

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How has your routine changed over time?

It's become so much more structured, and that has helped me to no end. I think it's difficult to go from little structure to no structure, so building that structure gradually has worked really well for me.

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Do you have a dedicated space to work?

Yes, and that's key for me. I need it for my remote role, but for my own work, it also makes such a difference. I didn't in the early days when I started working for myself, so I would work where I could, and that was fine starting out.

I would say for anyone in that position a good pair of headphones will be so helpful. Also, talking to family and friends about the fact that you need to not be interrupted.

I also know lots of people who don't like working from home and instead use a co-working space or other office space outside of their home.

I think it's important to learn what works for you. Part of what I love about my workspace is I get to cover it in whiteboard sheets (my office is a bit too small for actual whiteboards), and I can stand and brainstorm when I need to.

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How do you stay on task?

Keeping my goals and whys front and center. I have written out what is important to me and why I do what I do in front of my desk. That helps me to stay on task.

I also layout what I want to achieve at the start of the week, and track it during the week via Trello checklists. I also look over what did or didn't get completed at the end of the week. This helps to keep me honest.

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What do you like about remote work?

Personally, it's not spending time on a commute, having the time to invest in Grow Remote or heading out for a walk. It gives me the flexibility to travel, to give a talk, or visit my family.

And for the wider community, it helps people to spend more time with their families and to get involved in their communities. It also reduces the number of people sitting in cars or on buses/trains when they don't need to.

It helps people to access better quality employment or work where the cost of living is more reasonable.

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What do you not like about remote work?

It can be isolating, and this is one of the things we are looking to deal with through Grow Remote. But it's important that I remember to get out to see people, and that I'm not only focused on work but also take the time to do things that aren't related to work.

I read an article over the summer that said those small interactions we have with strangers in our community are very important to help us feel part of our society.

Regarding remote work, it can become harder to have this part of your life, so, I make sure I enjoy those interactions.

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What tools do you use to stay productive?

My go-to tools are:

  • Marinara Chrome Extension - Pomodoro Technique (I like to do 35 min on with 5 min break)
  • Trello to track tasks, goals and layout workflows
  • Journaling to help keep my head clear and work through decision making, and
  • My headphones that allow me to listen to focus music.

I use different music for different types of tasks. I've also started using Workona Tab Management in the past few months. I love having various workspaces which makes it so easy to move from one project to the other.

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Do you have any advice for remote workers?

Check in with yourself on a regular basis to recognise what might not be working for you, so you can then work towards changing it.

But also take time to be grateful for what remote work gives you.

In taking time to practice gratitude, we remember the benefits of what remote work gives us. It's very easy to take the benefits for granted.

And also check out Grow Remote! We're helping to build a remote working community all over the world!

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How do you decide priorities?

I have my goals written out, and my priorities are things that get me closer to those goals. Sometimes it's hard to know exactly what that might be and where I'm finding it harder to decide I ask my sounding boards, the mastermind group I'm involved in or other colleagues.

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How do you know when to push yourself vs rest?

Sometimes I just push because there are deadlines, but I'm always looking for those opportunities to relax, because I know it's so easy to burnout.

If I'm feeling very tired, finding it hard to unwind, feeling particularly stressed, my sleep is affected, or I react strongly to things (in a negative away) then I know it's time to take a step back.

But also checking in with those sounding boards really helps, so I know I'm taking time when I need to but not avoiding things.

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How do you decide which clients to take?

In my client work, I only work with people who handle themselves in a certain way, ex. they are respectful, and they are growth-focused.

I've been pretty lucky (apart from having to fire one client in the earlier days), I seem to keep attracting the type of people I enjoy and who enjoy working with me.

There's a quote I heard recently from Sam Harris, "People just want to work with happy and creative strangers," I feel that in my client work and our non-profit work with Grow Remote.

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What did we forget to ask Rose Barrett?

At RemoteHabits we're always trying to improve our interviews, what question should we have asked Rose Barrett?


Rose Barrett

Rose Barrett - Former Equine Scientist turned Digital Wrangler, co-founder of Grow Remote, lover of spreadsheets, and want-to-be kayaker.

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