I am a very structured person when it comes to my routine. When I first started working remotely, I didn't have much of a method and I often felt flustered.
I've come to realize that I really thrive with structure and a daily routine.
I typically start working at 6 am and usually do some editing work from 6-7 am. After that, I usually teach a few classes from 7-10 am or so.
Next, I work on a content related project for an hour or two and then break for lunch. Lunch is usually an hour, and I try to take a short walk for some exercise and to get out of the house.
In the afternoon, I make a second cup of coffee, and I continue with my content work (podcast editing, writing blog posts, articles, or newsletters). I usually reserve the late afternoon for less strenuous work like meetings, calls, email, and so forth.
To stay on schedule, I use a paper planner, and I schedule out each hour of my day the day before. That way, when I sit down at 6 am, I know exactly what to work on. I also try to keep my phone on airplane mode for 80 percent of the day, and I only check email 1-2 times a day, which has allowed me to be so much more productive!
Betsy Ramser is a content manager, blogger, and teacher who helps other remote workers thrive while creating a daily routine that works.
Read full interview from Interview with Betsy, a head of content and remote work routine expert.
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.
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.
I prefer not to work from home, as I get distracted easily. I also enjoy being able to turn off and separate home from work.
I'm part of a coworking space in Boston called Workbar. They have a number of locations around the city. One location is accessible via a secluded bike trail, so if the weather's nice I'll bike to work. Otherwise, I'll take the train to a downtown location.
I try to get my day started early. As much as I can, I devote Mondays to phone calls, errands, and other small tasks that tend to pile up during the week. For the rest of the week, I try to focus on deeper tasks like programming or writing.
On Fridays, I'll tend to work out of coffee shops around the city, just because I can.
I try to start my day with my most important personal task, which is writing. Otherwise, I find that consulting work or other tasks tend to box it out.
As much as possible, I try to combine similar tasks together. I use NotePlan (a markdown to-do editor) to track my tasks.
Kevin is a developer and consultant working on many different projects - learn which tools he uses to optimize his time management.
Read full interview from Interview with Kevin, a developer and remote consultant.
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.
My wife and I have 3 school aged kids, so my routine mainly revolves around their schedules of going to and from school (although it's a bit more relaxed now for the summer).
Typically I'm up at 5:30 to make coffee for my wife and wake everyone else up. After making breakfast, we'll drop the kids off at school and start my day around 7:30. I'll work until noon, then after eating lunch try and sneak in a 30 minute bicycle ride. I'm back to work afterwards until it's time to start making dinner around 5:00, which my wife and I will alternate throughout the week. After doing the dishes and getting the kids to bed I'll spend a few more hours finishing up my day, typically until around 9:00.
My weekends follow the same general time schedule. Saturday I try and reserve for getting things done around the house. I'll use a few hours on Sunday to catch up on anything I may be behind on, or get a jump start on my new week.
Harry has worked remotely for almost 10 years as a senior mobile, web and desktop developer—learn how he balances work with family.
Read full interview from Interview with Harry, an IT Architect who works from home.
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.
The last few months, I've been working hard at keeping to a more early wake up time. During the winter, I was rolling out of bed 10 minutes before work, grabbing something to eat, and settling in.
These days, I usually get up about an hour and half before work, sometimes the gym, most times not (I'm trying I swear). I'll grab a bite, then sort of dig through emails before I even really start work (it's sort of a warm up time to me actually being functionally working).
Depending on the week, I do code reviews, which might start as soon as the clock officially rolls over to 8AM where they are (I'm in the AST timezone, they're in CST).
Other than that, it's the usual messages from different members of their staff with questions and bugs and requests for queries, in between working on whatever my current contract task is. I usually pull about 3 -4 hours of work in the "morning", somewhere between a half hour and hour and a half for lunch, then another 3-4 hours (most times I stop working around the same time their offices start shutting down, because the people I might need answers from leave).
I generally match their 8-5, and on American holidays I get less work done, either because I'm feeling less motivated, or because I need someone to answer a question. I don't usually take time off for Canadian holidays, because time off is money not made.
I've never been much for vacations, so I don't really block more than a day off here and there (except for maybe a 3-5 day stretch somewhere in the middle of summer, and of course Christmas and New Years).
Learn the tips and tricks Ben uses to stay productive while working remotely on a hybrid team
Read full interview from Interview with Ben, a web developer who freelances from home.
I'm married and have a toddler. I wake up by 7am, feed the kid, hang out with her for a while, then shower. I usually start work anywhere between 8-8:30. Then I'll work from my dining room table for a while so my wife can get ready for the day in peace (my daughter will just watch Mickey).
I like to keep my mornings free for remote remote work. That is, my wife and daughter will go to the pool, the mall, downtown, shopping, or to do fun activities. Sometimes I'll join them as an early "lunch" break, or most of the time I'll just take them there and then work from my laptop while tethered on my phone.
Lunch and the afternoons are pretty routine and I save most of my productivity and meetings for that time as I know those schedules won't often change.
Being able to spend time with my family little bits here and there throughout the day is important, so I usually end up taking 2 hours during the day for lunch and other things.
I have a hard stop at 5pm. That's when I do dinner, chores, spend time with the family, run errands, etc... After I put my daughter to bed and spend time with my wife, I will generally hop back online and work for another hour or so (depending on how much fun I'm having with the work at that time).
I keep a pretty consistent schedule, with times built in to be flexible.
Learn more about how Steven works remotely, including his work routine, habits and how he found his remote job
Read full interview from Interview with Steven Wade, a software engineer working on a remote team.
I start the day by checking my emails and Upwork messages. I will respond to most of the messages from my phone for general queries clients or potential clients might have. After completing my morning routine, I will respond to messages from clients regarding on-going projects and then respond to any interview request on Upwork.
I then check my to-do list to see what I have planned for the day. I usually start by the project with the most critical deadline. Sometimes I complete most of my tasks in the morning and I am left with a few hours before getting messages from client because of the timezone. Mauritius is about 8-12 hours ahead of the US and 2-3 hours ahead of Europe.
I use these few hours for my hobbies; cooking, reading, sewing.
I try to complete all my projects as soon as possible and if I receive feedback for changes, I make sure to amend my design within the next few hours.
Nelvina is a freelance fashion and graphic designer that works remotely while working with clients all around the world
Read full interview from Interview with Nelvina, a fashion designer who designs bags and clothing.
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