This is my story published as part of The Remote Working Chronicles
Sure! My name is Jeanette Söderlund, 35 year old Swede currently living in Los Angeles where I (surprise surprise) work remotely. I’m a lawyer specialized in domain name disputes, 3 time published author, domain name industry consultant and VP of Marketing for Desktop.com.
Prior to living in Los Angeles, I lived in Stockholm and Miami. All three are wonderful places but the reason Los Angeles holds such a special place in my heart is because of the diverse nature that surrounds it. Within a 2-hour drive you can access everything from snow, mountains, to beach cities and desert. I love it, it’s perfect for a semi-restless (remote working) soul like myself. ;)
I somehow always knew that a traditional 9-5 office environment was not my ideal way of working. The idea that you must sit at a certain place (even though your work task doesn't really require it) during certain hours to be considered to be working, just doesn't mesh well with my work-life ideal. To me, that you have a proper work ethic and the ability to take responsibility for your own work getting done well and in time, whenever or wherever that is, is the most important thing.
I personally always loved studying at the university for instance, compared to working in an office, simply because of the freedom that it afforded me while still doing what I needed to do work/study wise (and doing it well).
People are different though, many people thrive in a more controlled environment with tighter routines, other people thrive with more flexibility. I think it’s very important to be aware of where you land on that spectrum, in order to arrange your career accordingly and get harmony in both work and personal life as a result.
Oh yes it did. I loved it! But as I mentioned before, that’s because it fits my personality so well. Obviously there was a sting of feeling a bit “rootless” from time to time, but it doesn’t take long to find that “sense of belonging” in many other ways. It should be mentioned though, that during the first few years, I did also move a whole bunch of times (between countries, states and cities) as well as travel a lot in between, so the feeling of rootlessness could possibly have something to do with that too. ;)
I didn’t find them by going to a job listing site. I found each assignment either through personal meetings at conferences, though old colleagues or by simply reaching out via email and asking for it.
For instance, as I was researching the launch of all new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) I came across one that I felt very much aligned with much of what I believe in and the way that I lived my life at the time (.GLOBAL) so I sent an email to the registry and from there began a conversation with the founder and CEO Rolf Larsen, which ultimately turned into something I spent 5 years working with.
The best aspect has been the ability to feel fulfilled both in my personal life and in my professional roles at the same time. If I need to help a family member in the middle of the day, or take my pet to the vet, I can do so by simply rearranging when I work that day. To me, that’s an invaluable sense of freedom. Similarly, I can create my own work environment to best suit my preferences, which in turn makes me more productive and ultimately lets me perform better.
The worst aspect is the sense of never being “done”, that you never “leave work.” Work is always accessible, always there. With that, it’s easy to fall into the trap of carrying a constant internal stress, as if you fall just a little short in every aspect of your life. Oftentimes, this is mostly a psychological trap more so than an actual issue, so taking a step back in those moments to try and review where that sense of stress really stems from is usually what relieves it.
Desktop.com (duh!). No but really. During the years of working remotely and collaborating with team members via apps and email, I’ve been through my fair share of collaboration and productivity apps. And here’s the deal: there are so many good ones! Not to mention the apps for scanning documents, online banking and investment apps, e-signature apps, all social media and gig apps, and so many more.
The truth is, we need a LOT of them, and they do help us with our life in many ways...but at some point, clutter begins to build up. All of the app icons constantly present, too many open browser tabs and not to mention the bookmarks that haven’t been reviewed or sorted since who-knows-when. As we all are aware of these days, cluttered devices, notification overload and (God forbid) stolen/ lost/ broken devices can all cause real stress.
So, I’m a huge fan of apps to help deal with every aspect of my life and I have a tendency to also read a lot online, which makes me save a lot of links to great articles and other resources. What Desktop.com lets me do is to easily organize all my apps and bookmarks into separate sharable environments that are conveniently tucked into one single icon on my device. Better yet, it allows me to always access everything, regardless if my baby accidentally threw my laptop in the bath or if my phone died. I can just use another device and have it all right there in my Desktop.com account. Well-organized device independence and remote work should always go hand in hand - it’s the key to be able to fully take advantage of all the great tools out there.
Well, I had an episode right after I decided to go and get a pet bunny where I would be sitting with my laptop trying to work, but instead constantly caught myself just staring at the bunny and making sure it was ok, had enough food and lived its best life. It ended up with me not keeping up with my work to-do list and the bunny getting a bit spoiled and overfed (read: fat). It all worked out after a while tho and I ended up working from a different room or going to a coffee shop instead. That is, until I decided to get another bunny to keep the first one company… Then it started all over again. The small distractions of having “office pets”. ;)
Get to know yourself and how your energy ebbs and flows during a 24 hour period - where do you focus the best, and during which hours of the day? Plan your work tasks accordingly.Organize your tools. It’ll save you time and energy in the long run, trust me. Be aware of the “I’m-never-doing-enough” trap I mentioned earlier.
Treat yourself! Make work time enjoyable too, such as choosing a nice location or your favorite food to snack on.
I think most people agree that it’ll only get more and more common with remote work, either as the default way of working or at least for it to be available as an option. I believe we will see more attention being directed to how to manage remote teams, how to avoid burn-out and digital-clutter-induced-stress as well as an overall bigger focus on how we manage this aspect of our lives. Up until now, there’s been a steady flow of new tools and an ever-growing part of our lives rely on them, but there’s been no real shape or form to it. We use wallets for our credit and debit cards, we organize our utensils in drawer inserts, we keep our clothes and socks in certain places of the home, and so on. Some of these aspects are bound to start spilling over into our digital lives as well.
P.S: Originally published here