In 2015, I had just gone through a painful breakup. The kind of breakup that makes you take a step back and re-think your entire life, not only your love life because you suddenly feel like you're flailing.
In the process of trying to heal, I buried myself in my job... only to realize that I hated everything about it.
I hated the freneticism, the rigidity of office life, the monotony, the feeling like I was wasting my youth on a job that wouldn't love me back.
I'd always associated remote work with menial "telecommuting" jobs until I read an article about digital nomadism featuring people with careers I genuinely admired.
I hadn't realized that I could travel without taking a career break or a de facto demotion. It all clicked for me. That's what I wanted!
I wanted to live on my terms and integrate travel into my life via a remote career and location independence. I started applying for remote jobs that week, gave notice, and landed at my current employer, Tortuga.
The switch was pretty seamless for me logistically. I'm a self-starter by nature and a fiercely independent person, so I found it relatively natural to build my routine around work.
I'm the Marketing Director at Tortuga. Our team makes gear for city travelers and are known for our carry on sized travel backpacks.
My specific focus is on product marketing and content marketing. I also run our email marketing as well as our PPC and SEO campaigns. I wear a lot of hats.
Right now I'm working on a launch of five new travel backpacks in March.
Currently, I'm based in Durham, North Carolina and travel approximately every two months. When I'm on the road, my routine is more atypical.
However, when I'm at home, this is my routine:
6:45ish am - I naturally wake up early, and ideally without an alarm. This time is when I'm at my best physically and mentally.
7:45ish am - I bike from my apartment to WeWork in downtown Durham. It's only a mile and a half away, and Durham's relatively temperate climate means I can bike to work year-round. Fortunately, I only feel like a popsicle sometimes.
8 - 11 am - This is time for deep work. I don't schedule calls before 11 am if I can help it.
My morning hours are sacred to me, they're the hours in which I feel most successful and effective.
11 am - 12 pm - I conduct calls with my team. This happens about three times a week. If I don't have a call, I'm usually taking this time to do lighter brain work. I may also FaceTime with a friend, or take a walk. Deep work is wonderful, but I have to give my brain time to decompress.
12 - 1 pm - This is my lunchtime. I usually work through lunch, unless I'm eating with a friend, because I like to finish my to-do list by mid-afternoon.
1 - 3 ish pm - I handle less deep work tasks related to communications, marketing, and operations.
3ish pm - I prepare to bike home. Sometimes this happens at five or six in the evening. However, I try to really focus in the morning so that I've accomplished what I need to in six hours, not eight.
After work, I handle side projects, play guitar, read, run errands, work out, cook, or hang out with friends for the rest of the day.
I do. I have a hot desk at the WeWork in downtown Durham. I also have a desk at home, but I don't typically work from home unless I'm sick or it's pouring rain, and I don't feel like biking.
I find it isolating and more difficult to turn my brain off at the end of the day if I work from home too often.
I like coming home to a place of leisure. It's harder to do that when your primary workspace is visible from your couch.
I used to be an avid Pomodoro tracker, but at this point, I'm so used to being productive in a work environment that I don't really need productivity tricks.
I just use my intuition and listen to when my mind can get things done and when it needs a break.
Headphones are helpful. I often don't play music, but the feeling of earbuds inside my ears is enough to switch my brain into focus mode. Plus, they keep people from distracting you.
I love that my life dictates how, when, and where I work, and not the other way around.
It's a fundamental perspective shift and I don't want to go back.
In more practical terms: I love that I can move to NYC and then back to Durham without changing jobs. I love that I can book a last minute trip to the Bahamas just because I'm cold and not ask for permission. I can then work from the Bahamas since I don't have to take time off.
I love that I can take a 10 am yoga class if I want to or go for a 10-mile mid-day run to clear my head. I can get my hair cut at a weird time or go grocery shopping when there isn't a crowd. I love that I haven't been in rush hour traffic in three years. My life is up to me.
It can be isolating and lonely if I'm not intentional about building my community.
In-person community takes a lot more effort than it used to because it doesn't just happen naturally.
I do not default into a community because I have to build and nurture my own. That actually makes for a more meaningful community, but it takes a lot of work. It can be exhausting.
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Taylor is the marketing director at Tortuga, a direct-to-consumer ecommerce company known for their travel backpacks. She's a conference speaker, traveler, writer, and fierce advocate for remote work. Find her on Medium, where she writes in-depth marketing analysis as well as personal essays.
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