What's your typical work routine?

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

Interview with Jacob, a site reliability engineer

I take an extremely methodical approach to most things I do in life and my daily routine is no exception.

My usual morning starts at 5am. While I don't often drift from this wake-up time, I do give myself a pass if the night before was a late one or if I woke up many times during night.

I've learnt that sleep is an asset you can never "catch up on", and I consider it extremely important in setting up the day for success - whatever success ends up being that day.

After waking up, I spend 20 minutes meditating. This hasn't always been the case but I've found it remarkably efficient at forcing you to slow down and see things as they are and not what you perceive them to be in the moment. Depending on the work and challenges I've got going, I write some morning pages to get my monkey mind trapped in ink. This has been super effective for working through a range issues and it's so simple!

Once I've got myself in the right headspace for the day, I will have some breakfast and duck out to my favourite coffee shop.

Depending on my mood, I will either spend an hour or so working on some open source project or reading. I've found it quite beneficial to switch this up as I don't consistently feel like either but do enjoy both.

The actual work day does tend to start a bit earlier than others at HQ despite being in the same timezone. Thanks to our asynchronous communication style, this means mornings are generally periods of long, uninterrupted work for me.

This does vary if I'm on call or working with teams in other time zones, where the morning is our only overlap.

I'll work until I feel hungry, which generally happens at 11 or 11:30 - I'll then make sure I get outside and grab a bite to eat. If I've made myself some lunch at home, I'll go out to enjoy it either in our yard or at one of the great local viewpoints. Sometimes I'll even get a sneaky skate in before returning to work.

Sometime between 4 and 5, I'll hit that mental wall and will call it a day. I'm very wary of working a lot of hours.

When I first went remote, my wife was an awesome alarm clock to remind me to get out and finish up the day. These days, I don't need the poking, since I am far more in tune with when I need to take a break.

Jacob is a Site Reliability Engineer who believes in asynchronous communication and bullet journaling - learn how he maximizes his daily "deep work" time.

Read full interview from Interview with Jacob, a site reliability engineer.


Interview with Mark, a programmer building bespoke business applications

It took me a long time to establish my current routine.

The hours of my first remote job were very erratic and rarely included working periods inside the traditional 9-to-5 mold.

My bad habits were further reinforced by a coworker who would work the same erratic, late-night hours. Over the course of three years, I had completely forgotten the concept of a routine.

When I began my current remote job, the prospect of having to wake up consistently at 8am again terrified me. I quickly realized that I would need to establish a lot of habits to get myself into a decent routine.

The first habit I began was doing some activity immediately after waking like exercising, cooking, or even mowing the lawn.

I found starting my day with a small accomplishment goes a long way in making it a productive day.

Moreover, I am very deliberate about taking time to make and eat lunch - which has the side effect of learning new recipes. A couple times a week, I'll plan social activities with friends or family around 6 pm, thus clearly demarcating the end of a work day.

When working from home, it becomes all too easy for me to blur working hours into evening hours.

Mark thinks that avoiding distractions and sticking to regular hours are perhaps the hardest parts of being a freelancer - learn his secrets to achieving a good work flow.

Read full interview from Interview with Mark, a programmer building bespoke business applications.


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 Eddie, an Engineering Director

About half our company works remotely, and our entire engineering group - about 40 people in total - is distributed. This means that juggling timezones & working asynchronously are just facts of life.

But before all else, coffee!

First, I go through unread Slack messages and emails, answering questions and unblocking folks where needed. Then I take a life break to get the kids up and off to school.

The rest of my workday is spent in meetings.

I used to be very anti-meeting, but now I think that when run well, they can be very effective at keeping projects moving. Meetings also provide much-needed social interaction that is generally lacking in remote teams.

My meetings range from 1:1s with direct reports, to playing scrum master for one of our dev teams, to policy review and writing, to discussing strategy, roadmap and culture with other leaders across engineering, product, and data science teams.

Most of our meetings happen via Zoom or Slack video. I like to feel prepared, so I take 10-15 minutes before each meeting to compose my thoughts, and then 10-15 minutes after the meeting to summarize outcomes and next actions.

As a team, we make sure to set aside at least one hour each week to meet and discuss salient topics. This satisfies our social drive and acts as a scrum-of-scrums.

The format is fluid, but the beginning is mostly banter. Then I update the team with any new information or noteworthy events, after which we invite team members to share things they've worked on or found interesting or challenging. This can be work-related or more broadly technical.

Since we don't all share an office, and can't glance at a colleagues screen, we have to be intentional about making time to recreate those opportunities remotely.

I try to keep Fridays open. This gives me the time and freedom to roll up my sleeves, work on development projects, research, and/or mentor newer team members.

Eddie is an Engineering Director - learn how he manages to absorb interruptions and manage information overload while staying productive.

Read full interview from Interview with Eddie, an Engineering Director.


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 Mike, a software engineer who works remotely at GitHub

I tend to get up fairly early, read through my emails to figure out what I'm going to do in the day and then head off to the gym. When I come back I'm energised and ready to get properly started at work. I tend to eat at my desk (not ideal) but I love that this gives me most of the day to focus on my work. Most of my coworkers are not awake until my afternoon or even early evening so I don't have any meetings until then.

Mike got started with remote work after getting an offer from his dream organisation. Learn how he works remotely while working on open source projects and publishing books.

Read full interview from Interview with Mike, a software engineer who works remotely at GitHub.


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.

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