When, a few years ago, I started working as a freelancer, I remember that I saw it as a constant struggle. I didn’t know how to manage my tasks correctly during the day. I tried to understand how to work with clients from around the globe. I didn’t know how to focus when working from other places that weren’t my home, or which devices would be helpful for working remotely.
The Right Connection
One of the most important things in my daily work is the Internet. It sounds like fun, but sometimes it can be really hard to get a good connection while you need to make calls to your clients and co-workers. So, I take extra care of this issue before I move to a specific place. I always check if the location has internet, what other options I might have in the close surroundings of a restaurant or café, and do I have any co-working space in the area where I’m going. Also, I have a mobile router and so, every time, I buy a sim card with a good internet option to be safe. So, if I discover I don’t have internet where I am, I have a plan b for that.
How do I manage my illustrator’s tasks when I need to change my location often and I can’t have too much hardware with me? Nowadays, it is much easier than it was a couple of years ago. One of the most important things is my iPad Pro. It is the best (in my opinion) solution for an illustrator. You can move everywhere with it, I have my favorite apps for drawing on it, and when I have to write, I use an additional apple keyboard. Also, sometimes when all I want to do is write, I only take the iPhone and keyboard. You can simply pair the two devices and just work! Pretty amazing if you want to have a really light backpack and you can manage everything only with your phone.
Also, I travel with my MacBook. An iPad, unfortunately, isn’t enough for a long period and I need to edit things on my laptop. Before, I would sometimes use my iPad as a second screen or use different apps to have an iPad as a graphics tablet. What is great now — with the Catalina system, is that you don’t need any extra app to extend it this way. My iPad and Mac are now best mates and they are great devices to combine!
Sometimes, I use the mouse to create designs on Sketch or Figma. Or, I use the touch bar, sounds a little crazy but when you can’t take too much stuff with you, you are more creative with the devices that you have.
Another of the most important devices for me are my headphones. I use a pair of Bose with a noise-canceling system. It is a life-changer, and it helped me to work from anywhere.
I love to have the right spot to work from. Even if it’s only for a couple of hours, it’s ultra-important to feel comfy and in the right place. When I’m at home, I always set up my desk/corner/table. Even if it is just a sofa — it has to be cozy and comfortable. I always have my all devices close to me, chargers, and a thermos with coffee. I like bright places, so I try to sit close to the window and be surrounded by plants, to have something to look at when my eyes need a break. Also, when I’m in a café or a co-working office, I look for the best spot for me, somewhere I can put all my stuff and work comfortably. If you need a place to have a meeting with your client — try to avoid crowded places and make sure you won’t interrupt other people in this place. It’s nice to remember that others also want to focus on their own tasks. And if you need to really focus — headphones with noise-canceling are your best friends!
Working remotely needs rigor and routine. You can work this way spontaneously, but it wouldn’t be very productive if you spent your time on the beach or at a café drinking your hot beverage and staring at people. It’s good to have a daily routine; set the time when you should wake up, have a plan for the things to be done in the morning, and set the hours for your work. Also, a long term plan is necessary. You need to know not only what tasks need to be done in the short term but also what you should focus on if you want to achieve your goals. It’s really easy to procrastinate, lose motivation, and lack discipline. I know from my experience that without my routine, I can forget what I should be focusing on at the time. Therefore, I stick to my plan and prepare my to-do lists, and I always highlight the one thing which is the most important during the day so, I always start my work from that. Even if I have set my long term goals, there are times when I will review the list and rewrite it to make sure that I’m going in the right direction. Why do I do this? Because after achieving your goals, you need to set new ones and sometimes you also change them because you can see after a certain time if it was the right one for you, or maybe you’ve found a better solution for something.
Find The Right Balance
When you have your daily routine established, it’s really easy to work from home or any other place, but it can also be risky. Why? Because you can forget to separate your personal life from your work. It’s much easier to bring your job home if you’re never changing the surroundings. One of the most important aspects of working is to have a life balance. So, how to keep it healthy? As I mentioned before — set the time for your work, not only when to start but also when to finish. When you know that time has come and you still haven’t closed the computer — you’ll know that it’s an indicator of being a workaholic! If you have a problem with that, set a timeline for some meditation, workouts, maybe for cooking or even just a walk. And stick to the plan. After some time, you’ll see how helpful it was (it was for me at least). And sometimes, when I forget about taking care of myself, I return to my list and set a time for my homemade spa, for the gym, sauna or dance classes, it’s really amazing after hours spent in front of my computer, I highly recommend it!
What Is Your Experience?
I hope my tips will be helpful for you somehow and make your remote worker’s life a little better. If you have any thoughts about this kind of working or you want to share experiences — feel free to write it in the comments! I’m really curious about how you manage or how you imagine this type of work.