FULL-TIME FREELANCING AND REMOTE WORK LIFE

*This blog post was originally published and written for Brittani Wills Creative in Summer 2018.

Hi everyone! Hannah here. This blog post is the first in a recurring “Intern Blog Series” we’ll be doing this summer. Today I’m tackling a topic that has recently affected me personally and professionally: remote working. 

I became a full-time freelancer this past March. In theory, this seemed like the ideal situation to me: Getting to work from the comfort of my bed every day and getting to make my own schedule is the greatest job ever, right? Yes and no. I learned that I can’t just wake up whenever I wanted, work from my bed every day, and that I actually had to do the same things I would be doing as if I were still going to an office every day. 

It took some time to make the adjustment but I’ve managed to figure out how to make remote working work for me. 

SET A ROUTINE

Just because I wasn’t actually going in to an office every day didn’t mean that I couldn’t perform ‘normal’ work day routines. A work day is still a work day, even if I’m working from my apartment.  At the beginning of each week (most of the time on Sunday night or Friday afternoon) I block out times for projects/clients on my calendar so I have a general idea or schedule for the week. Depending on how each day goes, I adjust this calendar at the end of the day for the rest of the week. 

Every morning, I get ready for the day as if I were going to an office, because working in my pajamas just made me want to nap all day, every day (however, I’m a firm believer in no makeup, no problems). I get a cup of coffee, check email, and make a to-do list for the day based off my calendar blocks. Having these routine hours helps with setting client boundaries, so the illusion of being available 24/7 because I’m a freelancer doesn’t exist and I don’t get burned out.

STAYING ORGANIZED + FOCUSED

Making sure I stay organized is probably one of the most challenging things I find about remote work life, since I’m the only one who manages my projects, clients, and time. Ensuring that I am maximizing my productivity takes a lot of planning, so I always keep two to-do lists active: a digital list and an actual paper list. My paper list is sort of styled like a bullet journal so I have to physically check off tasks to hold myself accountable. My digital list in the new Gmail Tasks tab, and it’s mimicked almost identically to the paper list. I really like the Gmail Tasks tab, because it allows me to have one window open at a time on my desktop and still have my full email and workload visible. 

Staying focused during the work day can be a challenge for anyone no matter where they work, especially if they’re managing multiple projects. I only check my emails 3-4 times a day, so I don’t end up spending half the day responding to emails and not doing actual project work. 

WORKSPACE

It took me about a month to realize that as nice as working from home is, it can get unbearingly repetitive and boring. I now spend at least two days a week working from the comfort of one of Chicago’s many coffee shops so I don’t go stir crazy. Working by yourself can get pretty lonely at times, so I find going to a coffee shop and being out and about is great for my mental health. Human interaction, even if it’s just being around people who are also plugged in at a coffee shop or ordering a venti soy iced chai from a barista, is incredibly important. 

Additionally, working from my couch and/or bed weirdly started to get annoying. About a month in to full time freelancing, I bought a small desk, so I would have a designated workspace within my tiny apartment. I have an external monitor as well, and working at the desk with my monitor helps me feel like I’m in an actual office instead of just two feet away from my bed.

IN SHORT, REMOTE WORK FOR ME IN A NUTSHELL: 

  1. My only consistent co-workers are the Pawnee, IN Parks and Recreation department. 

  2. Most verbal conversations I have during the day are between myself and my Alexa Dot.

  3. Convincing my friends and family that yes, I do actually have a real job. 

  4. 9 p.m. rolls around and realizing that I didn’t go outside all day. 

Hannah Rose Dominiak