What's your typical work routine?

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

Interview with Michael, a VFX artist that works remotely

On a typical day with work I wake up around 9 a.m. and open the documents for the project I am currently working on. I usually save the work I had and leave the project files up in the folders so I know exactly where I left off with a few foot notes.

I take 3 smoke breaks and 1 lunch break throughout the day. If it is just one big project I tend to only make sure I am awake during milestone interviews that usually have the team I am working with Skype message and discuss everything that is finished and needs to be finished.

On days such as those, it’s hard to say when I would be awake and when I would be sleep because I stay awake for up to 20 hrs sometimes. Especially if it is something that hasn’t been done before and I have to figure it out myself.

Michael is a freelance visual effects (VFX) artist, creating 3d models, mockups and videos while working remotely.

Read full interview from Interview with Michael, a VFX artist that works remotely.

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 Bennah, a remote ESL teacher that teaches kids English all over the world

My typical work routine is that every day I turn on my desktop computer when I arrive home from my morning work.

I usually arrive home at 5:05 pm Philippine Time, and my shift for my online classes would be from 5:30 pm onwards since it is really unpredictable that the administrators online will put classes at any time from 5:30 pm onwards.

Though I have my regular students, sometimes they will put students for demo classes on the times that I am vacant. So I need to remain online during those times. But on the weekends, I have my Saturday break and will have the class on Sundays from 9:30 am till evening.

When I started my classes, I started it with greetings of “good evening” or “good morning”. I would ask them if they have eaten their dinner or breakfast and how do they feel about their day. So after asking them several personal questions, I would ask them if they are ready for the lesson and so we begin with the books that they use.

We use PDF books that the company provides and will discuss it until we finish the time given which is 50 minutes per student. Before we end the class, I would ask the student again if he/she did understand the lesson, or if he/she have something to ask before we say good bye. If they say none, I do say good bye and will see again the student on the next class that we will be having.

Bennah is an ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher who teaches students from all around the world while working from home.

Read full interview from Interview with Bennah, a remote ESL teacher that teaches kids English all over the world.

Interview with Max, a Deep Learning Engineer with a winning strategy for distractions

My routine is purposefully on the dull side.

I believe that focus is just the absence of distraction, not a muscle you need to train.

I have two principles that I follow and that have served me quite well. The first principle is to get two chunks of deep work every day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. If I manage to do so, how I spend the rest of the day doesn't matter.

This way I don't have to stress out about an endless list of habits that usually end up being another stress factor for me. Of course, achieving this is not an easy feat, especially in a remote setting.

Tools can help, but for me, it's important not to cling to any particular routine, but instead be flexible to stay consistent with the principle.

The second principle I follow is to do one important thing and do it well, a personal twist on the Linux philosophy. You could understand this as not doing multitasking, which I do fully agree with, but what I mean by it is another aspect.

If you look at your daily workload there are usually things that you tend to avoid or keep postponing. Those are often the most important tasks.

Being busy and doing a lot of things instead is the easy way out. So what I do each morning is write down a top 3 list of things that really need to get done.

The number one pick is usually by far the most important. If I manage to complete this crucial task, it will be a productive day. I sometimes get push back when talking about this idea, but as a thought experiment imagine that every employee in your company did 200 things a year that bring the business forward.

After a chance Twitter conversation, Max found a remote position as a Deep Learning Engineer —see how he manages distractions and maintains focus throughout his day.

Read full interview from Interview with Max, a Deep Learning Engineer with a winning strategy for distractions.

Interview with Hannah, a freelance writer that travels the world

Some people love routines, but I’m not one of them.

For many remote jobs you are expected to work standard days and hours. With a lot of remote jobs, the only difference is the location. That’s not what I enjoy or what I do.

I love to have my days varied and flexible. That means my day might start with social media work, writing, or something completely unrelated to work. This isn’t a good fit for everybody, but it works well for me. I’ve had to develop a lot of discipline for this because it can be easy to not accomplish much with this method.

I guess when I started freelancing part time and still had an in-person job, there was some flexibility built in from the beginning because there was less freelance work to do.

Something that helps me are time-tracking tools. They let me make sure I’m getting all the necessary hours in for my full-time job and allow me to see where the rest of my time is going. While I’m not a big scheduler, I am a fan of to-do lists and these help me remember everything I need to accomplish. I personally like bigger lists that have both work tasks and other life priorities.

At the beginning of this year, I worked as I traveled abroad in Southeast Asia. I’m now visiting my family in the United States for a bit and am deciding where to head next (thinking Singapore or Thailand).

Hannah is a freelancer writer and social media manager that travels the world while working remotely. Read her interview to learn how she works.

Read full interview from Interview with Hannah, a freelance writer that travels the world.

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 Ben, a CEO/Engineer who works remotely

I used to like working a lot at night, but with 3 kids and a wife, I've become more of a morning person! I usually have breakfast with my family, and then either head to the gym with my wife, or get started on work.

I usually spend the mornings catching up on emails and messages, or doing phone calls. I'll grab some lunch, and then try and get most of my creative work done in the afternoon - either coding, planning or getting something else done.

I'll usually have dinner with the family, put the kids to bed, and then get a few more hours of work done in the evening, which can be my most productive time.

Ben is a CEO/Engineer who works remotely - find out how he balances working at home and family life!

Read full interview from Interview with Ben, a CEO/Engineer who works remotely.

Interview with Gregory, a Senior Software Developer

My current company is based on the West Coast, but I live on the East Coast. There is a 3-hour time difference between us, so I generally have about 3-4 hours of uninterrupted time before the rest of the company really comes online every morning.

So, my days tend to get split up into a few different parts.

First, I start by reviewing PRs or code checked in from the day before. This helps me get up to speed with what is different or what is being worked on, and lets me kind of get back in the programming mindset.

Pretty soon after that, I start the main "programming" part of the day, where I generally have a single focus, one problem, or one part of the code that I need to work on.

Because of the time difference, both of these parts almost always fall during the time when I don't need to worry about interruptions from the rest of my team.

I'm free to really focus on the problem in front of me. Sometimes I'll purposely take myself offline, if I really need to avoid distractions.

The next chunk is normally the "meetings" part of my day, where I spend time talking with coworkers, having meetings, discussing problems and solutions, talking about timelines, and overall just communicating with others at the company.

The last part of my day is normally spent finishing up work from the morning and writing documentation, tests, small scripts, or fixing more trivial bugs.

This also doubles as my "wind down" from the day, so I pick easier or less "intense" things to work on, and try to pick things that can be easily interrupted and restarted.

I will also often set up the problem or task I'll be working on the next day, so that after I'm done doing PR review, I can jump right into it.

Gregory is a senior software developer working from home - learn how he finds the balance between lack of focus and hyperfocus.

Read full interview from Interview with Gregory, a Senior Software Developer.

Interview with Sarah about working remotely from an RV

I typically work Monday-Friday and the hours are flexible to a point but I like to give myself the most amount of hours with my co-workers as possible as they're on Eastern Standard Time and I'm currently located in Mountain Standard Time.

I'm usually at work by 6:30 or 7am and leave around 3:00 or 3:30pm. Since I wake up at 5am every morning, it gives me time in the morning to work on my blog or write before I jump into the work day.

I like to take several walks with our dogs throughout the day to get of the RV and remind myself of my blessings and to enjoy the view!

Right now, we are located about 7 miles south of the Grand Teton National Park. So when I walk out of my RV, I can see the beautiful mountains.

Sarah is a digital marketing manager who travels the United States with her partner and two dogs while working remotely in her RV.

Read full interview from Interview with Sarah about working remotely from an RV.

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.

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