Time. It’s not only the subject of some of my favourite songs that I love to listen to when ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, it’s crucial to working from home. Time management is absolutely crucial to being successful as a remote worker, as you have to preserve a good work-life balance without going overboard as a workaholic or a slacker.
Honesty time. This has long been a challenge for me. I have always been a self-employed remote worker, typically working on deadlines instead of with any sort of regular routine set around a standard office schedule. I also typically worked freelance, which inevitably led to feast or famine periods where I had loads of work or none at all.
As a result, I became accustomed to binge working. At times, I would go right around the clock. I pulled all-nighters the same way that I did as an undergrad, when I was forever up until dawn to finish papers so that I could slide them under the prof’s office door on deadline day. And there is something exciting about this approach. It’s all or nothing, seat-of-the-pants gotta get the job done!
I’ll always remember working a conference in LA, staying up all night playing cards with friends in Hollywood, getting onto a plane at dawn (crazy turbulence on the flight home, couldn’t sleep a wink), being hauled off to a house party by the friend who was picking me up from the airport (thanks, Mike), and finally going home to edit a tech book on deadline. By the end of all this, I had been up around 48 hours. I don’t know how I got the edit done coherently, but I did. I never heard any complaints about it, at any rate. And their cheque sure cleared. So mission accomplished.
But I absolutely don’t recommend this way of life now. All-night blitzes are okay and even fun when you’re young and single and can handle it. They aren’t nearly as enjoyable when you’re in your 40s, have a spouse and/or kids, and responsibilities in life beyond simply taking what they’re givin’ ‘cause you’re workin’ for a living.
Remote working is great. It frees you. It inspires you. And it can improve your quality of life, especially if — sales plug alert — you’re working from home in a place like the St. Lawrence River Region, an area that practically forces a superb work-life balance upon you with its wealth of outdoor beauty and recreation.
But there are some serious caveats. You can easily let work take over your life for lengthy periods of time, which will then force you to take similarly extended breaks when you burn out. Remember that slow and steady always wins this race. Your sanity and physical health will thank you, too.
Basically, don’t be young me. Even if you have the luxury of working on deadlines. Set a schedule. Set some boundaries. Remember that with the change over to remote work for so many of us in the brand new C-19 world, we are all in this for the long haul. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep that in mind and schedule your time appropriately, so you reach the finish line in health and happiness.