Derek Palmer

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Remote Work — Don’t forget what got you here.

  • work
  • productivity
  • balance
  • life

A young man working on a laptop while seated on a ledge in a city during sunset" by Avi Richards

I’m a few months away from my one year anniversary of working remotely.

To start, I never thought in a million years I’d be able to work remotely.

At first it felt surreal. I could sleep in, or even take a nap on lunch if I wasn’t feeling great on top of all the other perks of being able to work from home.

My office (notice how dark it is)

My office (notice how dark it is)

My routine looked like this up until two or three weeks ago:

  • 6:00 – 8:30am — Wake up, some days I’d sleep in, other days I’d get up early and start working
  • 9:15am — Make sure I put my stand-up into slack
  • 2 – 3pm — (Most days) — Realize that I didn’t take lunch, eat lunch at my desk
  • 5pm — Call it a day, walk upstairs, cook dinner
  • 7:00pm – 12am — Head into our upstairs office, get on my Desktop computer and surf Reddit, play video games or work on a side project

Now, this “worked.” Was I productive at work, getting more done than I typically would if I was in the office? Certainly.

But at what cost? When I was working in the office full time, I had a regimented routine that helped me make time for important things like downtime, relationships, and restorative practices (meditation, exercise, etc).

I could slowly feel this “non-routine” affecting me negatively.

I became unusually irritable and emotionally reactive, I started to lose interest in things that I had normally loved to participate in. I started to gain weight due to not wanting to get out of the house and do the things I loved doing.

Working in an office also provided me with a physical separation between work / personal life. Now that I’ve started working remotely out of my home, the separation is less physical and more mental.

So how did I get out of this negative stretch?

I started reading a book called “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. In his book, he discusses the concept of S.A.V.E.R.S.

S: Silence — Meditation, prayer, breathing, etc.

A: Affirmations — Encouraging words you tell yourself to achieve your goals.

V: Visualization — Imagine yourself doing things step-by-step to achieve your goals.

E: Exercise

R: Reading

S: Scribing (Journaling)

Hal also mentions in his book that waking up (or at least trying to wake up) every morning at the same time and go through this routine is a sure-fire way of achieving your goals.

At first I thought this concept of S.A.V.E.R.S was a bit out there. I tried it, and modified it. Hal even mentions in his book that modifying the technique to best fit you is encouraged. Within a week I was already feeling significantly better in terms of irritability, and I actually wanted to get out of the house to go do things.

My morning routine now:

  • 5am — Wake up, meditate for 5–10 minutes
  • 5:15am — Shower, get around for the day (I take crazy fast showers)
  • 5:30am — Head downstairs and make coffee, read and journal
  • 5:30–6:30am — Do house chores (laundry, dishes, tidying)
  • 6:30–9am — Work on personal tasks (Personal development, photography, blogging, etc)

My work routine now:

  • 9–11:30am — Work
  • 11:30am–12:30pm — Head upstairs, leave my phone downstairs, eat lunch upstairs not in front of my laptop, read on my kindle or listen to podcasts.
  • 12:30–5pm — Work

Some key things that I do now while working in my office:

  • Work with the lights on / windows open if possible.

This was a huge issue for me, I would keep the window shut in my office and keep the lights off. I do like the dark, but working for almost a year in darkness does take a toll on you.

  • Give yourself frequent scheduled breaks

I use Be Focused (through my Setapp subscription) to give me scheduled breaks. If you haven’t heard of it, Be Focused uses the Pomodoro Technique(25 minutes of concentration / 5 minutes break). During my 5 minute breaks I usually go upstairs for coffee, or play with my cats, the key thing for me is to take that 5 minutes and do something totally unrelated to work.

My evening routine now:

  • 5–6pm — Cook / eat dinner
  • 7–9pm—Leisure (Disc golf, photography, Netflix, reading)
  • 9–10:30pm — Wind down / bed

Not only has this routine helped me be even more productive while working, it’s also helped my get things done that are not related to my profession and enhancing my life overall.