Mike Gutman, 37, Mar­ket­ing Ex­ec­u­tive

Men's Health (Australia) - - Advantage+ -

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.


Tally your time: for one or two weeks, write down ex­actly how you use your 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.

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