A few tips on not losing your shit while working remotely

From my home office, where I am still mostly sane

I don’t have an editor for this personal blog. If you find a typo, say it out loud three times and then forget that you ever read it. Love you. — Alex

All of a sudden working from home is hot. I’m not getting into the whys this morning, as I’ve been stuck covering COVID19 for the last few weeks and need a break. But as it seems that a great host of folks are about to start working from home for weeks, I wanted to share some tips.

Here are my credentials: I worked from home for The Next Web (TNW) for nearly four years in two different states. Then I joined TechCrunch and spent the first year working from home because I was stubborn and stupid. After that I spent some time in the office, and during my Mattermark year had to go in. But at Crunchbase I was pretty quickly back to part-time remote, moving to 50% remote for a few more years, but in a new state.

So I’ve done international remote and domestic remote, media remote and media-at-a-startup remote. I’ve done it in remote teams, and centralized teams.

Here’s what I’ve learned from non-quarantine remote working. Not all of these will apply to you today, but in general they are ok bits of advice. At least they have been for me:

  • Get the fuck out of the house in the morning: Do this every single work day unless you are sick. Doing so will make you do more laundry, recall how to present yourself, how to use your voice, and it will help you develop the sort of small relationships that are the building blocks of life; get to know every coffee spot near your house, ever diner, every park. Oh, and walking is good for you.

  • Develop the most distinct work space that you can pull off: I am lucky rn that I have a seperate building to work from in my backyard, but before this I tried to define work and leisure spaces as best I could. A room for work that is different from the rest of your house is great. Do not work from the couch. You are not unemployed, do not act like it.

  • Get better at cooking: It’s easy to order in when you work from home, and easier to lose control of your body’s structural integrity when you are alone. Rage against the machine and learn how to make some simple food for yourself. Don’t order tacos every day.

  • Home gym, or die: On the theme of not falling so out of shape that none of your clothes fit, start working out during the day. A few dollars into a kettlebell, a good mat for yoga or situps, and some free weights will pay back hugely. Try to never have a day when you don’t do some pushups, maybe a few jumping jacks. You sit so much at home, fucking move.

  • How to phone call while remote: Pace, if you can. Get up and walk around the house or your home office. Move. Get the blood flowing. You are going to die in that chair!

  • Use your fucking video camera: Be presentable enough to be on video chat for your meetings. Don’t live in squalor. Tidy your workspace. Put on a shirt. Show up. Be a human.

  • Call your friends: If you work remotely, you are probably seeing fewer humans than before. Supplement that by calling your loved ones. As much as you can force yourself to.

  • Snacking, self-esteem, and general health: Try to have high standards. Don’t start eating whole jars of pickles. Invest in yourself, because it’s easy to get sad when you are alone. And slipping standards of self-care are only pushing you in one direction.

In short, your mental and physical care need different inputs. You can be healthier and happier remote. It just takes a lot of work.