THE POWER OF FLEXIBILITY
Mike Gutman, 37, Marketing Executive
ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO, I negotiated for some time to work remotely. I had been commuting an hour each way, and I wanted that time back to live the life I wanted. Suddenly those hours were mine. That meant morning runs and afternoon bike rides.
Even though the whole idea is to escape the office routine and the meetings (and maybe some of the people), I found that you need both a routine and some social interaction.
I don’t wear pajamas all day long. It helps to shower, brush your teeth and dress as if you’re going someplace. That sets the tone for the workday. And I plan my day – work assignments, errands, workouts. That structure helps set a routine, and a routine leads to productivity.
One of my tricks is reading in bed – something unrelated to work – for 20 minutes as I gradually wake up. That stimulates my mind, and then I do 20 minutes of calisthenics. Then I brush my teeth. The time I would’ve spent commuting I invest in myself. It’s a form of self-love, and it’s hugely important.
I don’t miss the political jockeying of an office. With working from home, quality talks the loudest. I’m proactive, setting up phone calls and virtual meetings. I’m also my own IT support, my own research institute. You have to problem-solve by yourself. That’s a skill that pays dividends down the road.
Once your home becomes your home and your office, you’ll get sick of it really quick. Getting out is crucial, even for a short walk. Of course I have Slack and video calls, but I actively schedule recurring team meetings, just for the sake of connecting. I also feed off the energy at coffee shops.
That said, I have to put up a virtual wall between me and friends and family. It’s all about expectations and priorities. It’s essential to set expectations with your loved ones. If they need something, they have to tell you it’s absolutely urgent. If it’s not, it gets pushed off and resentment can build.
Coping with loneliness is a critical life skill. I say embrace it. You feel comfortable with your own thoughts and learn to become your own best friend again. It’s life-changing.
BE LIKE MIKE
Tally your time: for one or two weeks, write down exactly how you use your time.it can help you focus not just on what you’re doing for work but also around your home. You get a sense of where you need balance, and you can adjust. Resistance is useful: When you wake up, resist the urge to check your mobile phone. Create boundaries between the life you want and your work. Don’t let that stuff infiltrate your mindfulness every waking hour. You’ve built time back into your day, and it’s valuable. So protect it. Find your happiest place: I work from my laptop and have noise-cancelling headphones with a microphone, so I can have distraction-free meetings. And I will set up shop from my couch, my kitchen table, my office. That freedom to work throughout my house is my happy place.