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I've seen a few posts so far on RC from people sharing how they decompress/use their downtime, but one issue that I find regularly challenging and have not found a standard solution for is striking work-life balance in a remote environment ๐Ÿค–

While there are advantages to working asynchronously remote (ex. you can step away when you need to run an errand), being connected online makes it feel harder to disconnect. We certainly see more think pieces being written about the psychological impacts, but I'm curious to learn directly from you - how is everyone handling their situations? Do you have any best practices to recommend on how to have more balance?

Personally, I've been lucky to have an understanding wife and kids who're able to physically attend school (for now). But I know I test their limits when I'm constantly on my computer or phone (for work purposes, of course ๐Ÿ˜‚). Maybe it's more being a founder than working remotely? Regardless, after 2 years of remote work, I recently agreed with my wife that weekends should be device free. FYI, we just finished Weekend 1 and she gave me a B+ (I pulled out the laptop when the three of them decided to take a nap...).


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    Hahaha, thanks for this - lets me know that I am not alone in my poor performance at home.

    I totally underestimated working remotely and the initial couple of months were not easy. I didn't even have a proper work setup and that resulted in some unnecessary (it is never necessary, but just saying) neck pain.

    But what you mentioned about always being connected online is totally true. In fact, you don't even need a laptop. We carry around our phone all the time and that's enough. There is always something work-related that can be done on the phone itself. So the borders become vague till they totally vanish.

    You are also right about this being more difficult for a founder. As a founder, I am constantly looking to update my knowledge and see how I can improve some small aspect of my startup. This seems logical but then gets a little neurotic after a while.

    I was just telling @lindsayalissa that now I switch off my mobile an hour before I sleep and only switch it on an hour after I get up. This gives me a clear break from work. I have still not managed to curb the weekend because I think working then gives me a headstart to the week. But I will get there :P

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      It really is incredible how much work you can get done on a smart phone!

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        Btw, I forgot to mention in my earlier post that I also had challenges when I started working remotely. It took 5-6 months, I think, to pretty much get it in order.

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      Haha, congrats on the B+, Justin - I still get angry looks from my wife when I have to open the laptop to send out the daily newsletter on Sunday :/

      I can say from personal experience that being a remote founder is a herculean task. The situation was even worse for me since most of our team was in office and I was in a different city. I remember waking up 5AM each day just to finish up pending tasks, reviewing other people's work and also planning things for the day. This was back in early 2019 and of course the situation is way better now since we're fully remote.

      Honestly, the major thing that's worked for me is concentrating on something else I am passionate about after work. As founders, I think we're obsessed with our work and our product/ startup. So just shutting off the laptop or moving away from the work room doesn't really help, at least it didn't for me. I keep thinking about work even if I am not in front of my laptop or have my phone. But if I am running or doing a calligraphy sheet, I rarely think about work.

      I am sure @Borisov91 & @joetaylorland would have something interesting to add on from their experience of being remote founders.

      Of course, @lindsayalissa, @aldalima & @scottpdawson have already shared a lot about how to ensure work-life balance. Would be great to see if they have something more to add here.

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        Still trying to find balance. I admit I still work Monday - Monday but have increasingly seen how bad I need to take a break. I've always felt a little unconventional about that and didn't mind working weekends, but I have been somewhat more selective in what I work on during the weekend, so I am thinking of caving and setting weekends as no-work days or only really urgent work/answering.ย 

        I have been relying on Toggl to track where my time goes, though, and I hate to admit I still spend too much on mindless social media but have been trying to postpone that to later in the day and focus on important stuff early in the day - the "big rocks first" motto has been working really well for me.

        And one thing I want to do is get a new phone (which I desperately need anyway) and number, and have one phone for "serious", work stuff, and one for Instagram, FB, chatting, etc.

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          I hate to admit I still spend too much on mindless social media but have been trying to postpone that to later in the day and focus on important stuff early in the day - the "big rocks first" motto has been working really well for me.

          Likewise - I started taking this approach a few months back and I've noticed that I make the most progress this way. On my end, I keep an ongoing list of tasks I need to get done and constantly revise them according to urgency and so long as I get the most pressing ones finished, I don't feel as bad about my day ๐Ÿ˜…

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            Exactly! Even if over the course of the day you forget something or your attention gets pulled in another direction, the most important things haveย already been taken care of. It's very handy :)

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          On a different note, want to thank Justin for reaching out to me to point out that the landing page was not working for him. The one-man show is tough to pull-off sometimes ๐Ÿ˜›

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            Where would I go to talk remote work if not here at RC? ๐Ÿ˜œ

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              ๐Ÿ™Œ

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              Spot on, @hrishkesh :

              Honestly, the major thing that's worked for me is concentrating on something else I am passionate about after work. As founders, I think we're obsessed with our work and our product/ startup. So just shutting off the laptop or moving away from the work room doesn't really help, at least it didn't for me. I keep thinking about work even if I am not in front of my laptop or have my phone. But if I am running or doing a calligraphy sheet, I rarely think about work.

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                ๐Ÿ™Œ

                Interesting that you mentioned Toggl. I've never really used time trackers myself before but curious about how they could be used effectively, particularly on a personal front. Will start off a fresh discussion on this and will reserve my questions to you for that post :-)

                2 phones sounds good in theory but I am afraid it might cause you 2x the distraction? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I am hooked onto how this experiment pans out for you!

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                  Toggle is nice and it syncs between your computer and phone. You can also set voice commands for your phone so it gets easier to use. I still find myself with a few hours missing every day, even if I think I am tracking everything โ€” it just has to be social media and emailing ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

                  As for the 2 phones, let's see! I am thinking of not even installing certain apps in the "serious" phone to avoid distractions. Will be sure to update if I get one to let you know how it's going!

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                    Haha, it must be that. Although by emails, I am assuming you're referring to personal emails.

                    Sure thing! I figured you would plan to not install apps on the new phone, but there's always something newly distracting that you can discover when you've a device.

                    Happens so often with me, I am sometimes clueless how easily I end up spending time with the phone without attributing it to just one single thing like social media, news or games. It sometimes is just a random combination of these ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธAnd there's always the browser & internet to spoil you!

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                      That's true, there will always a rabbit hole lol. Luckily in Brazil, most people communicate via Whatsapp and not emails, so I use emails mostly for work and a few newsletters!

                      And you're right, it is usually a combination of things! I know phones have that feature that shows how much time you spend on a certain app but I know it's going to be ugly so I ignore it ๐Ÿ˜ณ

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                        Same here - I have almost stopped using my personal email for months or years now.

                        Haha, yes. But it's surely something to try out and if it does work, you'll also have people like me adopting the practise & thanking you for it ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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                Yes, yes to Hrishikesh's point about concentrating on something else outside of work when work is over (emphasized by @almalima, as well). I'm so convinced that structuring or planning downtown is critical - i.e. first, shut off your phone or laptop and then make a plan to "actively" do some other activity, even if it's just read a book or make dinner. Oh, and I like TV as much as the next person, but in general I find that I don't feel as refreshed and rejuvenated if I use TV as my primary non-work activity. I like to watch TV when I am completely exhausted and other non-working time for different activities. Also, I'm finding that if my non-work activities involve my phone or my laptop, I end up just doing a few quick work things before relaxing...so I've tried to avoid downtown activities that involve my phone or computer.

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                Hi Justin!

                What is the name of your startup? :-)

                I'm the founder of RemoteMore, we are a fully remote team of 12 people, 3 years old company. We have a bit unusual approach to building a company, e.g. the founders work 70hrs/week consistently 3 years so far. So my experience may not be fully applicable. But that disclaimer is I guess always relevant when sharing advice :D

                I think it is mostly about being a founder, not so much about being remote. When you are a founder, you are ultimately responsible for everything. If you are early stage with low amount of capital, you need to be involved in a lot of things (there are no skilled people to take over those areas).

                But also indeed remote adds to this. It is easier to stay connected after work.

                ...

                What works for me in order of importance:

                I have dedicated time for work, and dedicated time for life outside of work. For me, I know from experience that if I work above 70hrs/week over more than 3-4 weeks, I get too stressed and tired. I keep track of the hours daily, and keep an eye on not crossing the 70hrs/week considerably.

                (70hrs works for me due to the things I've cut out from my week, and due to the possibility to switch between deep work tasks and light work tasks)

                Outside of work, I don't have my email on my phone. I rarely turn on email/slack etc. outside of work.

                For the remote part - it helps a lot to have dedicated space and dedicated clothes for working. So your mind gets used to "now I'm at work" / "now I'm not at work".

                In general, hobbies are great. They get your mind off from work, and it gives you a good perspective on life.

                Cheat days are fine. On my weekend, I play computer games without feeling guilty about it. You need to take care of yourself, and that means doing things that you enjoy.

                Getting good sleep is quite important. Getting somewhat healthy food also helps.

                Having a supportive spouse is also important!

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                  Appreciate the breakdown of your own situation, @borisov91!

                  Building a company as remote from Day 1 certainly has its own set of challenges so it's impressive to know you and RemoteMore are making it work 3 years in, particularly with the consistent weeks of 70+ hours working ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

                  I definitely think the demarcaton of work time vs personal time is important. Do you generally just set time off in your daily calendar to facilitate this?

                  BTW, the startup I work on is Quidli - we enable remote companies to offer crypto-based perks and incentives to their team members (no localization required anywhere). Research shows that offering the right perks improves employee productivity by at least 45% so let me know if you need more benefits for your distributed 12 team members ๐Ÿ˜‰

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                    For me, I have a relatively well-organized calendar for work things (on my computer), and an almost non-existent calendar for outside of work (just notes in my notebook).

                    I guess it is because I rarely have things planned for more than 2 weeks ahead outside of work, so it's sufficient to just write down notes about it.

                    The demarcation for me is - I work from 9:00 to 21:00, more or less consistent. So outside of that time, I'm no looking at my work calendar etc.

                    ...

                    I have been thinking a bit about paying with Crypto to employees, given the international payments.

                    But how does it work with the company accounting?

                    That was my concern about it.

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                      I'm pretty interested in following up on this conversation about perks/payments for employees with Crypto, especially for small, international teams.. Any interest in opening a new thread about it? For reference, I knowย nothing about it.

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                        Sharing the link to this short explainer by Justin for quick reference - Reward employees with Crypto.

                        However, would surely be great to have a new thread on this topic. @justin-465

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                          Yes, it will be great to read a post explaining how it works, what are the benefits, etc. :-)

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                            @lindsayalissa, @borisov91

                            Always happy to shill Quidli ๐Ÿ˜‡ย 

                            As mentioned by @hrishikesh, he was kind enough to post a page about Quidli a couple weeks back; so happy to facilitate a more crypto-oriented conversation there if you're interested in diving deeper!

                            But just to provide some more background here, I'll link two blog posts we've prepared to give some high level info:

                            - An introduction to Crypto Perks

                            - How crypto can be beneficial for remote teams

                            Definitely let me know if you have more questions, need further clarification, or even challenges ๐Ÿ˜†

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                              This is awesome. I just had a Crypto development happen via one of my freelance gigs, and I'm thirsty for all of this info!

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                                Happy to share more!

                                Feel free to ask or ping me directly any time! โœŒ

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                            Not sure I successfully "mentioned" you in my response so just manually pinging you as a notification! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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                            Yea, I guess I've just been less successful at respecting fixed hours - I always start with good intentions but then I'll inevitably shift things into my non-work time until the entire premise collapses ๐Ÿ˜ฅ Perhaps I need to make a schedule for my downtime as well haha

                            Re: crypto to employees, happy to provide you some more details. We just connected via LinkedIn so I'll sync with you there in order to not derail this "work-life balance" post ๐Ÿ˜‚

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                              Thank you, @justin-465 and @hrishikesh!

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                                I'm pretty terrible at "fixed hours" as well. But I have found that I respect my work calendar a lot. So I applied that to my personal life as well and have "scheduled" the personal things I need to do. If I've got a block on my calendar for mowing the lawn, going grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, etc. I'm more likely to actually do it.ย 

                                It doesn't always feel great to be so calendar driven, but it does seem to work for me.ย 

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                          I've found creating different Chrome profiles to be really helpful to separate work and life. I've got my personal profile with all of my social media bookmarks and other things I like to play around in. And I've got a separate work profile with all of those bookmarks. It makes it a lot harder to stumble over to Twitter during the work day or to check Asana during personal time.