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Ep. 304: MOJ: Creating A Flexible Schedule As A Remote Worker

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Flexibility can make or break your remote lifestyle.

That is why creating a balance of work and life is crucial to make this life sustainable without burnout.


Listen Below:

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Ep. 291: MOJ: 3 Biggest Obstacles We Faced Transitioning to Remote Work


Transcription:

Debbie:

Hey, everyone! Welcome to another episode of my journey where I share with you, my journey to remote work and remote work, which I am now living, so yay, and hopefully, all of these little tips and tricks that I’m doing with you is going to help you get to that process as well, and you can make this into a permanent lifestyle in the future or hopefully in the near future.

So today, we’re going to talk about how to create a flexible work schedule as a remote worker because even when you are finally into this lifestyle, even if you can start working outside of an office, there are still things that you need to do to make this sustainable for yourself, and I am joined today by my husband, Aaron.

Hey, Aaron.

Aaron:

Hi, how are you?

Debbie:

I’m good.

Aaron:

Good.

Debbie:

Today, we’re going to talk about how we’re able to find the right balance from working and also still enjoying our life, and having that flexibility, because this is one of the biggest reasons why we wanted to work remotely. So we can spend more time together. So we can start having a life that we really and truly love and not just working all the time, especially since we’re both from New York City.

That’s kind of what is ingrained in us to constantly work a lot and hustle and obviously we still believe in working hard but not to a point where that’s the only thing in our life.

Aaron:

Yeah. I agree with all of that.

Debbie:

So, today will give you a few tips on what we found, that has worked for us and Aaron with you, you really started working remotely last year. How has that transition been for you? Because I know it seems really great now that you can work from home, but there’s also like pros and cons about it too. How is that process, like for you?

Aaron:

So I think though the biggest change, for anybody that’s doing this and it was the biggest change for me is kind of setting a work schedule, which is what we’re talking about today.

And it really just comes down to habits because I do know that there’s concerns that some companies have that have employees or contractors that are remote, they’re not as productive and I actually find it could be the opposite, they can – should be more productive. Especially when you’re given your work, you can actually work and try to get ahead and actually be more productive.

But, you know, the main thing I think take to get to that point is to kind of have a schedule that you kind of stick to just like you would in a workplace.

And one thing about that that kind of sounds, it kind of sounds like you’re just doing the same thing like office working, you know, technically you are especially if you’re a remote work or it’s it’s just like office working some ways except without the co-workers, but one of the big things to me is that once you set your schedule, it’s actually important to break it sometimes.

And that’s one of the best things about being a remote worker is that you can work as much as you want, if you have that, you have enough work to work all the time, but you can also kind of take a midweek break which is one of the things I actually recommend.

Usually, I would say like Wednesday is kind of a lighter day and maybe even like a Saturday, if you’re working six days. So, that’s the way I kind of like to break it up.

Debbie:

Yeah, and that’s one of the things we do like to do, is we, especially with the type of work that we do because we’re writers and we work with different companies and one of the things that I really love about what we do, is we can get our work ahead of time, ahead of schedule because there’s always test that we see that are not due until weeks later and we can get ahead of that.

And what we tend to do is, instead of working like a full 8 hours everyday, what we do is we tend to break it up a few hours and then we’ll work more days, but you can definitely do it the opposite, where you can work more hours and then, you know, have like 3 days where you’re free.

So it really just depends on your preference. You can either work more in a day or work less than a day and break it up and work more days or less hours.

Aaron:

Yeah, I kind of do one and you the other, so we’re not always on the same page but a lot of the time we are. I like to work like more days like in a row and you usually like to work just kind of like longer days.

Debbie:

Yeah, I do. So, that’s the beauty about this too, is that you can pick and choose what you prefer. So, I like to work a lot and then just have, you know, my days off or honestly, I just like to work and sometimes I’ll just keep working to just keep ahead. But most of the time when I get bored, I just work. And then if I want to watch like a show, I’ll have a show on while I’m working because I just, I don’t know, I’m just weird that way. I just can’t sit and do nothing.

Aaron:

Yeah and that’s another benefit, I guess that we should bring up is that yeah, we both kind of like to watch some shows and stuff sometimes, I get a little distracted. So, that’s a good point that you can kind of put shows on that you don’t get distracted by for whatever reason and I kind of do, you know, I guess it’s a focus thing, I can only focus on one thing at a time and you can focus on more than one thing at a time.

Debbie:

Yeah, I’m definitely a multitasker and you in a lot of ways, you’re not cause you have to be super focused. So, what Aaron is talking about is I can literally put a show on as long as it’s not distracting to me, like I can work straight ahead and I’ll be good. But with him, if he puts anything on unless it’s like music, he will get distracted and then he won’t do any work at all.

So, he figured that out and I think you’re still trying to figure a lot of your different habits right now, but that’s one of the biggest things that you found out that you actually had to learn yourself and you were like, okay, “I got to stop that because it’s stopping me from being productive.”.

Aaron:

Yeah, for some people, it’s like social media for me, it’s YouTube, but for some people, it’s like social media if they’re on Facebook or whatever, Instagram, like they can’t get any work done. So, if that’s you, I would recommend just putting your phone in the other room or like it’s in your car even cause I’ve heard people do that, put their phone in their car and it just keeps them on task because they can’t really, you know, don’t have access to it have a distraction. They also have like lockout apps you could also try, they keep you from opening your phone until like a certain amount of time, unless it’s like for calling or texting, you can’t even open the phone.

Debbie:

Yeah and for you that’s helped a lot right?

Aaron:

Yeah, yeah.

Debbie:

So what other things that you have found that has helped you become more productive.

Aaron:

So, I’ve never been one of these people that just does work to work. I’m typically like one of these people, like if there’s a problem that needs to be solved, I try to solve it one time, so it just keeps like, for instance, let’s say, you know, some people like they have like a certain flow in their house like and they have to walk around things like, you know, to get through the house quickly. I’m like if you add up all the time, it takes you to walk around this thing, I’m like, “Get that thing out of the way”, so I can always just keep saving time.

So that’s an example of something where I fix it once, but it gives me benefits overtime and because of that, it kind of like, makes me creative in some ways but also lazy in some others. And what I found actually helps me get over that is because I like to like have my peace and not have to you know kind of still be grinding my work, I like to get ahead. It sounds counterintuitive cause you’re like, “You sound like you’re kind of lazy”, and like, “Yeah, in some ways”, but in other ways I like to be ahead.

So, you know it there was times where I would get like two weeks ahead of my work. And even, and the funny thing is, even, the more ahead I got, the more ahead I wanted to get, as silly as that sounds and like you would even look at me like, “How did you get this far ahead?”, it’s like, because I just don’t like once I start to get a little bit ahead I just don’t stop, because I kind of see it as like a long-term solution to, you know, not wanting to work continuously.

Debbie:

Yeah, well, it’s also a way for you to, sometimes life happens and there’s certain things that you have to do when you can’t work. So, if you are ahead of time, you’re not stressed out because you’re thinking about, “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do? I can’t get to this work that I have to get done, deadline is X Y and Z.”, so when you try to stay ahead of things and ahead of schedule, you’re never going to be stressed out. And that’s one of the things that I actually told you about because that’s what I tend to do is work ahead of schedule.

And I was like, well, if you always are at least a week or two ahead, you’re always going to be ahead and you’re not going to be a stressed out as if you’re just trying to keep up with your work so that has definitely helped for sure.

Aaron:

Yeah, I don’t like doing things all so last minute, it really stresses me out because you just, you just don’t have the polish on your work that, you know, like or at least for me, the polish on my work I prefer to have you know, like I usually have, I should have like a nickname like revision 2, 3 and 4 because I’m always thinking like the first one, the first version of the work I do is never what I like, you know, it takes at least two, three, four, sometimes five things where I’m like going through iterations to get it right.

And you know it’s like I don’t know, for me I guess work is like being a sculptor where I’m just little by little chiseling away every day as opposed to just one big push to get it done in one day.

That’s just how I prefer to work. So, I have the shine on my work that I like.

Debbie:

Also, and another thing that I wanted to talk about is having a balance with that, because oftentimes when you’re working on your own and when you’re working remotely, you tend to not realize how either how much you’re working or how much you’re not working and there’s a lot of distractions, there’s a lot of things that can take you away, or sometimes you work too much, and then you have burnout.

So, it’s always good to have a balance of both of them. It’s also really great that we are both here and we balance each other, because if you let me, I will just work and work and work. And then what is really bad about that is then if I work so much, like I just burn out and then there’s just days where I don’t do anything.

Aaron:

You can’t get anything done.

Debbie:

Yeah and then I just stay in bed all day which for me, I like because I kind of need those days too because I, when I work I kind of don’t have zero days, like I always do something and it’s maybe I’ll have one day out of the week, but that’s, you know, it’s kind of rare for me not to have.

Aaron:

Yeah, but there’s also like a lot of times there’s like, you know, we have unconscious thoughts and also, you know, not just physically and mentally getting burned out but there’s consequences too, you’ll start to find yourself, like you may be a workaholic but like with certain things, basically it’s kind of like you have like an inner child and if you don’t have fun with the inner child, they’re going to start sabotaging things.

The same thing versus, you know, if you just goof around all the time, eventually going to be like, “What am I doing? I need to get some work done.”.

Debbie:

Yeah.

Aaron:

So, it’s ,that’s why you need kind of like that balance in. And then the other thing is like, when you look back at it on like some of the things you do, like, did you actually have fun with your life? Did you do anything, fun? And look, I mean, for me, I think work is like, the most important thing in life in a lot of ways but it can’t, everything in life can’t just be work.

Debbie:

Yeah, you have to enjoy it too because you work so heard.

Aaron:

Yeah.

Debbie:

And we’ve worked so hard to get to this point where we can have this flexibility, we can have a remote lifestyle that if you’re not enjoying it, what’s the whole point of all of this, all that hard work?

Aaron:

Yeah.

Debbie:

So, do you have any other things that you feel like you’ve learned throughout this process since like you’ve been working on you know, working remotely?

Aaron:

I think like one thing that it definitely helps is like, I sometimes watch some videos on YouTube during the day, but on my most productive days what I find, and again, you can be flexible with this, is it like I don’t watch anything until like 8 at night and some people will say, like “You work till 8?”, and it’s like, some days, yeah, I’ll start maybe like sometimes 9 in the morning, sometimes 10. I’m not really the biggest early riser, so.

Debbie:

You don’t start at 10, you start at like noon.

Aaron:

Well, no, that’s maybe lately, but I start at like 10, not lately though.

Debbie:

No, not lately, I’m like, “What are you talking about? You don’t work that early.”, but it balances itself out because you’ll work around 12 and then you’ll stop at 8. So you have a long day and then you’ll have breaks in between and then we’ll go for like a walk or a drive but most of the time in the morning we kind of just like to chill out like we go for our walk, sometimes we’ll go somewhere, like go to just for a drive, so we like to go for a drive.

Aaron:

I think that’s also one of the great things about flexible work and like remote work is that, you know, you don’t have to like, the one thing I hated about like a day job is like as soon as you got up it was like a push right away to get out the door and get to work on time.

Debbie:

Yeah, you don’t have that freedom.

Aaron:

Yeah, and I mean, I think that it’s stressful to cause in New York it was like you had to commute and it’s like you, you’re just, you’re like, as soon as you got up, you had to rush and it didn’t matter how tired you were.

Debbie:

And also the commuting was the worst.

Aaron:

Yeah, and one of the things I think, I definitely remember that that I used to dread was it didn’t matter how tired I was I just had to get up and get going and I was not one of the person, people that ever took like sick days and stuff. I work just every single day without fail.

Debbie:

Yeah.

Aaron:

So you know, it’s quite a change when you know, they don’t take a sick day per se but I can take like a lighter day. So, rest is important, boys and girls.

Debbie:

Well, that’s about it for today.

And yeah, if you guys have any questions, make sure to reach out, you can email me at hello@theoffbeatlife.com, you can also subscribe to the podcast and also reach out to me on Instagram @theoffbeatlife.

I will talk to you later. Bye!

Aaron:

Bye.

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