The biggest needs for success at a remote life are: reliable high speed internet access and a computer that can take care of all your remote needs. For some a phone line is still a requirement, but with so many computer based ways to join a phone calls a mobile device or an actual phone number are more of a case-by-case basis kind of need. Here’s some information on how I organize my full-time remote life.
In my 10+ years of working remotely I have come to learn that people thrive in all sorts of different situations and environments so this blog post is just about what works for me and how I prefer to organize my work so that I can be successful, precise and productive.
First things first: You need an office space.
Whether you put a desk in a guest room, a corner of your living room, your basement or a co-working space — the IRS is going to want to see you have reserved a space in your home that is used exclusively for business if you’re going to try to deduct any home office expenses.
When I first started working from home I commandeered my parent’s home office. After that, I moved into a condo and used the second bedroom as an office in lieu of getting a roommate. When we became house dwellers, my office was a big west-facing room in the finished basement and in my current home I have a nice office with big windows in the main floor as well as a quiet meeting space in the finished basement that I use for phone calls, audio recording, photos or when I need to work on large physical pieces.
If you’re paying attention, you’ve noticed I’ve always found it important to have my office in a space with doors. Being able to close the door and physically move away from my office space replaces the compartmentalizing that happens during a commute. I’m also lucky to live in a part of the country where space is not at a premium and so I have been able to have entire areas of my home be used exclusively for work.
The physical separation is good for your mental health. It also helps determine the boundaries between work life and personal life. Mental health is key to organize my full-time remote life.
You need a comfortable chair.
Ergonomics are important. Remote workers tend to put in 6-7 more hours per week than on-site employees. How your work area is setup is key to staying healthy, developing good posture and habits and staying productive.
4 years ago, I invested in a standup desk. It was life changing. While I don’t stand the full day, having the flexibility of standing and sitting through periods of the day really helps with my comfort level, relieves tension from my lower back, neck and hips. My massage therapist can really tell when I have been standing and when I am not.
Laundry breaks and dog walks
When the extent of your commute is going up or down a set of stairs, it becomes really easy to settle in for the long haul and not move until the end of the work day. Scheduling laundry breaks, dog walks, short errands and other chores during the day can force you to take a step back, change positions, hydrate and move around the house or leave the house for short periods of time for a change of scenery.
Get inspired by the changing seasons
Living your life by adjusting your routine to the changing seasons is something I have learned to incorporate into my routine and have come to appreciate. Working remotely allows to really adapt your hours to the daylight hours, or even the temperature fluctuations. In the late spring or early summer, I spend time working in the outdoor table out back. In the summer, I institute shorter work days or shorter work weeks so I can spend time with my daughter taking longer walks or swimming in the community pool. In the fall and spring I like to open the windows at mid-day and feel the cool breeze. In the winter, I enjoy decorating my office and lighting cozy candles or even taking my laptop to work from a warm coffee shop or next to the fireplace at my local library.
Taking the show on the road
While my most productive time is spent in my home office, I do keep a small laptop to work on-the-go when the need arises. On days when I have to run errands out of the house, or go across town for an appointment I try to schedule work time in some of my favorite places: public libraries. They are quiet, have fantastic internet speeds, usually a variety of different working surfaces — table and chairs, or big comfy couches at my local one — and some even offer calling booths if you need to take a call.
Keep company close
Even though I spend most of my days completely alone — or closely supervised by my dog Alfred — I have learned to be a part of several thriving online communities and to build and keep relationships with other solopreneurs. Find groups that satisfy your interest, or establish patterns and routines where you can talk or exchange messages with people during the day if you feel lonely. It helps to know another human is out there and is your work buddy even if they are not.
As always, please consult with your accountant in matters that pertain to the IRS or taxes specific to your locality.