One of the hardest challenges for people who work remotely is to unplug. This is what we see in the 2021 year report The State of Remote by @buffer. This challenge continues to be one of the top 3 struggles for four years in a row.
Having worked as a remote worker for over a decade, I can 100% relate to it, agree and confirm it is there and it exists. The inability to unplug has caused me serious burnouts. It took months to recover. But now I understand it’s actually possible to get it right. The concept of "being a remote worker" as a lifestyle choice is radically different from what we are usually familiar with. Remote work is not just a job, it’s so much more than that. It’s a lifestyle and in the following article you will understand why that is, how to shift your mindset and enjoy every working day as the best day of your life.
We often make the mistake at the beginning of our remote work journey to mimic the habits, schedules and routines that we inherited from the traditional office jobs. By traditional, I mean really copy the 9 to 5 already known option. Well, honestly, you could choose to do that. Yet it would provide you with access to only a limited portion of the meaningful and valuable benefits of working remotely.
I’m a firm believer that, as remote workers, we must have already mastered the skill of time management. Efficiency is crucial. However, let me also start the conversation by taking an unpopular perspective, one which will actually grant and leverage the maximum flexibility available to you. Have you noticed how your energy flows up and down during the day? We human beings function differently. There is a theory that makes the distinction between two types of people - the early birds and night owls. It’s scientifically proven that for each of these types, the brain reaches productivity level peaks at highly individual time frames during a normal day.
Being aware of when these time windows are for you allows you to fully own the freedom to design the perfect day just the way you want it to be. To have things done, in less time, with higher satisfaction and reward. The quality of life you can fully experience by embracing remote working as a lifestyle is not easy to describe in words. You need to experience it yourself.
The combination between excellent time management with the proper energy management flows helps you to achieve results with ease. It creates a space where you are able to focus on 20/80 rule activities and prioritize on what needs your immediate attention.
I invite you to think about it for a moment. Think about what the possibility of having flexible working time can bring to your life? Not to shock you, but it’s literally everything you may dare to want. Just choose it and do it sustainably. Sustainability is a key word here, because in nature, we don't live in a vacuum. Any unhealthy behavior has its impact, although sometimes we prefer not to admit it.
What if you could choose what time to wake up?
What if you could architect your most energizing morning routine?
What if you could have full control over how your day goes?
It’s a huge responsibility and takes practice to learn to commit to getting done with so much freedom available. Distractions conveniently bombard us from anywhere like notifications, emails, messengers etc. (Psst: a fun trick here that works is to just mute all possible notifications and even put your phone on do not disturb mode 😉 As an employee, you most probably are expected to be online for around 8 hours per day. But let’s be honest with ourselves that we can get the actual tasks done in even less than 6 hours. And there are many books on this topic. The six-hour work day is a contrast to the classic agenda; however it is a dream come true when you embrace remote work as a lifestyle. The deep work hours techniques are perfectly suitable to focus and concentrate on creatively delivering your top best results free from disruption. How cool is that.
A great book on my reading list is Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. It essentially tells us that we all have one hard thing to do each day (which feels to us like eating a frog). Get it done first and free yourself from that distraction.
A must-have healthy habit (and to some extent a necessity to be able to unplug) is to incorporate any form of physical activity into your day! Workouts, gym, brisk walking, swimming, hiring, riding a bicycle, yoga practices, you name it and stick to it. It can be a mixture of any of the above and more. This is essential because one of the pitfalls of remote workers is actually the fact that our bodies stay static during a huge chunk of the day. On a desk and a chair. Indeed, there are plenty of options for ergonomic chairs promising better and longer lasting comfort. Investing in one is a thing you shall not compromise with. But there is more to that. The truth is our body and brain needs oxygen, aka fresh air. Cardiovascular diseases, oncology conditions, peripheral nervous system disorders, hormonal and spine problems are just a few of the most common risks for our health that we are exposed to when we lack active physical activities and regular exercise. The actual problem is that once any of it occurs, it’s irreversible. So, it’s obvious that there must be room in your day for your health and the first to come to your mind is to replace the commute time with exercise time. It’s just that simple.
Last but not least, to be able to unplug and enjoy sustainably the life of your dreams by enjoying the flexibility that this lifestyle is about setting your own boundaries. You can always go far and beyond in reaching your highest performance without being overwhelmed and exhausted. Know your own limits and do whatever sparks joy. It may be travelling, spending time with your loved ones or your hobby. Do what’s meaningful and invigorating for you.
Remember, we wake up every morning to live a life we dream about, we don't wake up only to work. So if you like this uncommon perspective of remote work as a lifestyle, share it with your friends. They may be struggling to unplug, experience loneliness or burnouts and this may be exactly what they need to hear now.
Founder and Remote Work Ambassador
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