‘Living the dream’ can get tough unless you’re intentional about a few things.
It was February 2018 when I realised my life would be taking a radical turn. I remember the moment the words rolled off my husband’s tongue: "I’ve been offered the position in Bolivia."
Thankfully, after presenting my situation to my boss, we agreed that I would continue working remotely on a part-time basis while I’m away.
I’m now eight months into this year abroad and am ready to reveal the home truths about remote working.
Scheduling is a must
I made my schedule in Google Sheets, so that it’s easily accessible to anyone who wants to check on my hours. I included the dates and times that I’d be online, as well as a brief account of what I’ve been working on each day.
This also helps me keep my own sanity, as on days when I feel the imposter syndrome creeping up - it’s easy to look back at all the ways I’ve been contributing.
It also places clear lines on when you are ‘in and out of office’, which can get blurry when all of your work is now done out of your home - which brings me to my next point.
Separate work and home life
Even if you have nowhere to be and no one to see, the routine of waking up, taking a shower, and getting dressed before sitting down at a desk helps productivity loads. I don’t know exactly how science backs me up on this one, but I do know that if you’re not careful, working from home can quickly make you feel like a useless slob and this is the most practical way to combat that feeling.
Breaks are also an important aspect of this one - get up, go and eat lunch in a different spot, and do something totally non-work related. You’ll feel a lot more refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of your day.
Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts - there are so many easy and free ways to stay in touch. Although you may feel far away, you can be present for a meeting in a heartbeat (another reason why you should get dressed). Be proactive about it, jump in on as many as you can.
A physical community
Not knowing many people in this new country meant that I quickly felt overwhelming loneliness creep in. When you’re in an office, it’s easy to take the small talk and socials for granted. It’s important to find physical communities where you fit in.
I struggled with this a lot during my first six months here: despite being in an exciting new place, my mental health was going downhill fast and I couldn’t quite pinpoint how to help myself through it.
I eventually became very intentional about solving this problem and started up an English co-working club in La Paz. We’re now a small group that meets in a local café to co-work one day a week.
Laura Santillana is content designer at Bottle PR