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Mastering the Art of Working Remotely

Prior to graduating college last year, I assumed I’d be leading a typical post-graduate “normal”: working 9am-5pm somewhere in corporate New York, while struggling to pay high rent rates every month and surviving off of $1 pizza slices and cheap happy hour drink deals. But, little did I know what the future had in store.

Three months later, in the form of sheer luck, I landed a gig that allows me to work remotely, while a family member graciously provided me with free room and board. The turn of events seriously headed into a direction I had never expected in my entire life. So please believe me when I say that I still wake up in the morning and ask myself if this is real, because I am truly grateful for the strange, bohemian life that I currently live.

Given the circumstances, however, I admit that working remotely takes time to master. I quickly realized staying at home while in my PJs doesn’t feel as productive as working from a coffee shop. On occasion, I would miss interacting with people in person even though I use Slack extensively. I have to work from different places throughout the week to not feel “stuck,” and time management is a crucial component to getting work done on-time.

I made it a personal quest earlier this year to experiment with different working environments and apps to help make my remote work experiences more enjoyable. It was a daunting task that called for a lot of trial and error and faith in myself, but I can say that the struggle was all worth it.

Here are some of my best tips to mastering WFH that I hope can be of good use to you.

Maintain a normal work schedule.

Yes, working from home or remotely is a great privilege. But that shouldn’t exempt us from waking up at reasonably early hours to work. For me, waking up late (like 11am) gives off sluggish weekend vibes and hinders my work progress. I still find joy in starting my day at 8/9am to go somewhere cool and activate my “Let’s get this bread” mindset.

Switch up your work environment!

Think of it as a palette cleanse. Working at the same place every day gets boring and predictable, no? After all, you aren’t obliged to work at the same office. Find your next workplace that guarantees strong wifi and plenty of outlets (as well as superb coffee, may I say). I rely on WorkFrom, which is like Yelp but on steroids for remote workers. This platform rates the work environment’s workability based on the wifi speed, number of plugs, and noise level. It’s fantastic.

Know thy work environment preferences.

Do you like noisy or quiet cafes? Big places or intimate cozy spots? Small tables or large shared ones? These are actually some important questions to ask yourself before you venture out. Make yourself a personal criteria as you look up places to find the ideal spot so you can perform your best work.

You are entitled to your personal time.

I notice that people assume those who WFH are available 24/7 since they aren’t physically needed on a regular basis. This assumption – I beg to differ – is not true. Yes, you need to finish your to-dos on time and be a reliable team player during normal business hours. But if it’s past 8pm and you’re still getting pinged during dinner with family, turn those Slack notifications off. There is no need to blur your personal and work life together like that.

Try working from abroad, if within your time and budget!

Tired of working in your home base? If WFH allows you to travel during off-season, then what are you waiting for? Some perks to consider: you can beat the summer crowds, sneak a visit to the museum during the day while your coworkers are still asleep in their respective time zone, and find amazing places to do work remotely. Have you thought about people-watching as you work from a historical bookstore in Buenos Aires? Or perhaps situating yourself at a cafe in the Oltrarno area of Florence (and of course, shamelessly featuring it on your Instagram)? Don’t be afraid to flex those WFH advantages, my friend!

Do you work from home and/or remotely? If so, what do you do differently? Where are your favorite places to work?

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