Working Remotely: Finding Your New Normal

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I remember my first week while working remotely like it was yesterday. I slept in, ordered in brunch from my favorite restaurant at 11:00 a.m., and caught up on all of favorite reality TV shows as they played joyfully in the background. I was living the dream and enjoying every second of it…until reality set in, and I realized I was behind on almost all of my projects.

That’s the thing about freedom: we can quickly get drunk off of it if we aren’t too careful. As a former corporate attorney, I was used to starting my day promptly at 7:00 a.m. and working non-stop until I packed up my bag again at 8:00 p.m. So, when I decided to leave the law in pursuit of a freelance writing career, I got a bit carried away. 

All of a sudden, I found myself with more free time than I’d had since high school and I wanted to savor every last minute of it. I had no idea how to be my own boss, much less structure my days and was, in one word…flailing.

Luckily, learning the ropes for me didn't take too long for me. A bit later and I would settle into my newfound freedom. Whether you are a new freelancer yourself or a seasoned pro, I’ve collected my top tips for working remotely so you can avoid the flail I experienced and get to work!

Create a Workday

If you want to stay productive while working remotely, create a work schedule!

Whenever anyone asks me what my best tip for working remotely is, my answer is always the same: create a workday. When I first started writing on a full-time basis, I was convinced that I would do my job any time I wanted to and still get positive results. And, pragmatically, I suppose that is true. After all, one of the biggest perks of working remotely is that there is less of an emphasis on the 9-5 and more focus on getting the work done.

Read more: Best Work Space While Traveling

However, my procrastination said otherwise. While I always kept deadlines, I found myself pushing my work off more and more until I was forced to write an entire 16,000-word article in one day (spoiler alert: not fun). To solve this problem, I turned to none other than my mother who told me that I needed to come up with a schedule for myself.

It was so obvious, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself, but she was absolutely right. Just because I could blow off my work for days on end to lounge in bed or watching re-runs of Friends, didn’t mean I should. 

So, I decided to create a blueprint for myself. While the exact plan varies from week to week, for the most part, I stick to this daily sample schedule:

  • Wake-up by 9:00 a.m.
  • Do a little yoga in the morning
  • Shower and get dressed
  • Answer emails, calls, and questions from clients when I get settled at my desk (usually by 11:00 a.m.)
  • Write until lunch time (around 2:00 p.m.)
  • Take a quick walk around to clear my head
  • Write until dinner
  • Rest!

Creating a rough blueprint of what my days looked like helped my productivity immensely and had warded off some of those super late nights I was experiencing in the beginning!

Be Flexible

Remember to balance your work and life accordingly.

Another one of my best tips for working remotely? Be flexible. While creating a little structure certainly helped keep me on task, I’ve also learned the importance of being open-minded when it comes to my work days.

One of the biggest reasons that I pursued this lifestyle was so I could have the freedom to catch a show or go on a trip if I wanted to, and I made a promise to myself to never lose sight of that priority.

Embrace the ‘Do Not Disturb’ Function on Your Phone!

Make sure to turn notifications from your mobile devices while working remotely.

Need more tips for working remotely? Here’s a goofy one: put down the smartphone! 

I know that it is the end-all-be-all of your existence and houses everything from your Amazon orders to Netflix, but trust me: it is one hell of a distraction. From random push notifications to texts from old friends, I found myself spending more time on my phone than ever before once I became the only person responsible for policing its use. 

Read more: Work Remotely While Traveling

Nowadays, that bad boy gets put on airplane mode or ‘Do Not Disturb’ (or, if I’m feeling particularly feisty, off altogether) when I need to get some work done!

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Remember: working remotely isn't necessarily easier than your old job! There is still a lot to learn.

Finally, my most important tip for working remotely: give yourself the benefit of the doubt. There is an inherent learning curve with any new job, and starting your own freelancing career is certainly no exception. 

Only this time, there’s no cheerful HR Director to show you how to use the company email or a sage coworker that can secretly share all of the templates they’ve accumulated over the last decade.

When you start working remotely and on your own, there will be plenty of ups and downs and lessons learned; allow yourself the time needed to learn the ropes and become settled in this new lifestyle and, before long, you will be a freelancing pro in no time!

Elizabeth Murray freelance content writer at
Traveling is about expanding your mindset and challenging every custom, tradition, and way of life you thought you knew.