What's your typical work routine?

Question: What's your typical work routine? Read answers from remote workers to learn.

Interview with John, a full-stack web developer who works remotely

Well thanks to the beauty of freelancing I set my own hours and since I've been a night owl for as long as I can remember, I wake up at around mid day, work till 6-8pm depending on workload for the day. Then I decompress by playing some games or watching TV and then I go to sleep and rinse and repeat!

There's flexibility around your routine, that's the magic of freelancing, but the three non-negotiable factors are sleep well, eat well and exercise.

This last one has proven invaluable to me as I've been able to come up with new ideas for things I'm working on or solving existing problems while working out and I get to stay healthy!

John works remotely while using the latest web development technologies, learn how he works by reading his interview.

Read full interview from Interview with John, a full-stack web developer who works remotely.

Interview with Scott about working remotely for 20 years

I’m married and have two grade-school kids, so my routine is largely aligned to the school schedule.

My wife and I wake up daily at 5 a.m. and use that time to bake (she owns a bakery, Emoticakes) and write (I love to write in the pre-dawn hours downstairs on an iPad Pro).

When the kids wake up at 6, we shift into getting breakfast and getting ready for school. The house is empty at 7:30, so that’s when my work day begins. I take breaks for fitness or to relocate to a coffee shop to work sometimes, but most of the day I’m in my dedicated home office with our family’s pet rabbit, Snowball.

Everyone gets home sometime between 3 and 5, and we invariably have evening activities to juggle. I’m done working around 5, then, since we typically have dinner shortly thereafter.

The weekends are free of work for me, though we continue to wake up early and still have that same morning routine. It’s so hard to sleep in now that we have such a strongly-ingrained weekday routine!

Scott is a designer and developer that's been working remotely since 1998, read his interview to learn how he's been successful

Read full interview from Interview with Scott about working remotely for 20 years.

Interview with Nikita, an entrepreneur building a website to learn anything

I like to be very methodical in anything I do and as I am deeply passionate about optimizing things. I try to always be aware of how I spend my time.

As far as optimizations go, I try to optimize my happiness first and foremost, which includes looking after my body with exercise, following a mostly whole foods pescetarian diet and fostering great relationships.

I also am very focused on cultivating good habits, one of these habits is waking up and going to sleep at approximately the same time. Waking up in the morning, not using the phone in bed, exercising for 1 hour every morning either by running, playing tennis or going to the gym.

I also am working towards a habit of eating two salads every day and tracking all the food I eat. I greatly automate all parts of that so tracking the food I eat takes seconds as I have a big collection of recipes I choose from saved in Paprika that I later transfer to MyFitnessPal once I eat the meal.

I also work on one task at a time and track all the time on my computer and with iOS 12 on phone too. I then analyze this data and make adjustments to my routine and life based on it and use tools like Focus to block out any apps or websites that I find myself spending too much time on.

I also have a unique workflow where I have Focus app activating automatically for 90 minutes every two hours. I can only work on the things I need to work on during this time. At the end of it, I track the time in Timing and can take a small break. Make some tea, exercise or quickly look at any news or messages waiting for me.

Nikita uses the Timing app to keep track of where he's spending his time.

Nikita uses the Timing app to keep track of where he's spending his time.

Nikita is an entrepreneur working on his startup while optimizing his productivity—learn how he organizes his life and work to maximize happiness

Read full interview from Interview with Nikita, an entrepreneur building a website to learn anything.

Interview with Ayesha, a freelance writer that gained early clients through her blog

I start work after sending my son to school, having my breakfast and making the home look a little bit presentable (because with kids it’s never entirely clean).

The day before I usually have my tasks listed down for the day. That way I can just get to the work, without wasting any time. I work for two hours straight. Then I get a little break. I do the rest of my duties as a mother and a homemaker. If I feel that I have accomplished a good portion of my tasks, I give myself a treat by watching Netflix or going out to catch up with a friend.

The next part of my work starts in the afternoon, with the kids playing, watching TV or simply unwinding in their strange way. That’s when I believe I can do justice to my work and to my kids. I finish off my work tasks. These usually are proofreading or going back to check the work I have done previously.

When done, I shut off my laptop for the day. I don’t think about work again until I go to sleep.

That’s when I list down the next day’s task on a piece of paper (I’m kind of old school in that way).

Ayesha is a freelance content writer—learn how she made the leap to remote work while building her blog and raising her family

Read full interview from Interview with Ayesha, a freelance writer that gained early clients through her blog.

Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager

Having a daily routine has helped me to stay grounded in this career change.

I decided to go remote last fall when I saw that I needed a better plan to accomplish real work-life balance. I was doing full-time communications work at a brick and mortar office, and I had been doing some freelance writing work on the side.

Once I transitioned from working in an office to working at home, there were still some things about my work in the office that I wanted to take with me. I decided to keep the same work hours as I had before. I typically begin working at 8:30 am and continue until I finish completing my projects for the day. Unless I received a late project, I usually end the day at 5:00 pm (including all business communication).

To start the day, I take my dog for a one-mile walk. This helps me to relax, and get my rhythm for the day. While I grab breakfast, I usually sit down and look at the schedule for the day. I create my plan for the week on Sundays and add in any new additions throughout the days.

I always start with the longest and most involved project first —since I have the most energy in the morning and early afternoon— and then tackle shorter projects throughout the rest of the day. Once I begin working for the day, I always try to step away at least every hour to walk around and rest my brain. I never realized how much brainpower it takes to sit down really and write, even if you have an outline set and ready to go. Therefore, it is crucial for me to step away and allow my head to rest to gather my thoughts.

I stop for lunch around 1:00pm, and also try to take a short power nap to regain some energy to finish the day. At the end of the workday, I always double-check my schedule for the next day to be sure I have included all that needs to be done (there is always something new to add).

I will check all platforms (Upwork, email, and Trello) one last time for any late day assignments, or confirm deadlines for the next two days. I then end the day with another mile walk with my dog to transition into a time of rest for the evening.

Chanell is a freelance writer working from Atlanta that writes about business management tips and video game entertainment threads.

Read full interview from Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager.

Interview with Adam, a UX engineer building his own consulting company

My day starts off with a team sync via a Slack standup. I use Station to manage my workflow so I have all apps (Slack, Jira, Zeplin, Google Apps, etc) all located in one application. So I simply go through all of the unread messages, sync up my code, and tackle the next item.

It's very streamlined, so my ramp up time each morning takes less than 5 minutes and I'm back at software development.

Learn how Adam started working remotely from a cold-email on Hacker News, to how he's using a local co-working space to grow his business.

Read full interview from Interview with Adam, a UX engineer building his own consulting company.

Interview with Deb, a sales copywriter who transitioned from software development

My work routine is usually dictated by my clients. The majority of my clients are from the US, the UK, Europe, and Australia. So, time zone differences can be a bit of a challenge at times. If it is an Australian client, then I usually wake up early to attend phone calls and slack/Skype chat sessions. If it is a client from the US, then late nights are the norm.

However, I do try to follow a specific routine to help me get through the day (and night!):

  • Wake up around 6 AM and go for a 30 minute morning walk
  • Do freehand exercises for 30 minutes
  • Check my emails and Slack channels for anything urgent that needs to be actioned.
  • Have a look at my schedule (which I write on the earlier night before going to sleep).
  • If I have any early morning chats or calls, then I action them.
  • Hit the keyboard for a 2-3 hour stretch of writing.
  • Break for lunch around 1:00 PM my time
  • Write some more from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
  • Take a break for an hour where I go out of the house to get some fresh air.
  • Write some more from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
  • Break for 30 minutes for dinner.
  • Do some light web browsing to catch up for what’s been happening in the world
  • Try to hit the bed by 11:00 PM

The above routine is what I follow on an ideal day. However, in the event of client requests for a call or a Skype chat, I obviously must be flexible. There were instances during the early days of my career when I used to go to sleep at 2:00 AM my time to attend client phone calls. However, over the last year or so, I’ve put my foot down and told my clients that I will not be available from midnight my time to 6 AM my time, unless there is a dire emergency.

Most of my clients have been very understanding and have been more than willing to accommodate my request for an alternate time for a phone call.

Deb made the jump from full-time software developer to freelance sales copywriter—learn how he made the transition.

Read full interview from Interview with Deb, a sales copywriter who transitioned from software development.

Interview with Jenna, a freelance writer who works remotely to help manage her health

One of the biggest reasons I chose to work freelance is because of my health.

I have fibromyalgia, so I need to sleep a lot to minimize flare-ups, which really reduces my effective working hours. I also am quite mentally “foggy” and not at my best for the first few hours of my day. Some days I can’t get as much done as I would like. I’ve always pushed myself too hard and ignored warning signs until my body essentially shut down and forced me to stop working (I ended up on a leave of absence in 2016).

This all means I’ve been learning the importance of listening to my body and allowing my schedule/routines to be flexible and based around how I’m feeling. It’s a delicate balance because in order to get anything done I can’t rely much on motivation (I also have ADHD and depression) and need to push myself at least a little bit to do things when I don’t feel up to it. But as I mentioned, I have a history of pushing myself way too hard and suffering the consequences afterwards.

With all that said, my typical work day starts at some point in the afternoon after I’ve had a few hours to fully wake up. I usually start off by going over my schedule for the week and any approaching deadlines. I try to schedule as much as I can ahead of time so that I’m never doing anything at the last minute.

Even though I work well under pressure, I never know when I’ll have a flare-up or migraine which renders me totally unable to do anything, let alone write coherently. I also like to look for new clients in the early part of my work day, since it doesn’t require much thinking.

Sometimes I write my burn drafts earlier in the day if I’m not struggling to find words, but for the most part I leave the actual writing for the later hours. Any time I try writing too soon, I end up making stupid mistakes, or it takes me forever to write anything because the “fogginess” affects my vocabulary and creativity. I’ve always been a night owl and am the most creative and productive at night so that’s when I like to write.

Jenna started working remotely after realizing her office job was causing health problems—now she works as a freelance writer and writes about self-improvement

Read full interview from Interview with Jenna, a freelance writer who works remotely to help manage her health.

Interview with Hanling, a data scientist that works remotely on machine learning

Since at the moment I'm a master student, I can work remotely only part-time.

Most of my contracts are short-time (completed within one week). So I have to keep on finding new jobs (recently I'm quite free).

I would review the new job posts on Upwork frequently and apply using my fragment time. Typically I'll do the work in the evenings of my timezone (if it is not urgent) and also two whole days in weekends (if I'm free).

Hanling started working remotely as a student and now does freelance machine learning and data analysis for clients all around the world.

Read full interview from Interview with Hanling, a data scientist that works remotely on machine learning.

Interview with Alexandra, a freelance fashion designer building her own brand

I do have to mention that even though being a freelancer has a lot of advantages, in order to have a healthy work routine, there is need for a strong work ethic and a balanced timetable.

I often tend to work until very late and get stuck in a chaotic timetable (maybe also because I’m doing a creative job).

Alexandra is a freelance fashion designer who works remotely while traveling and building her own brand.

Read full interview from Interview with Alexandra, a freelance fashion designer building her own brand.

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