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As a creative-minded former homeschooler, I don't work best when confined. One of my top priorities is travel, so the freedom to work on the go is essential. For the past four years, I've worked remotely for employers and freelance. I've learned a lot and now know that working from home is not all vacations and pajamas. In the age of COVID-19, there are more remote workers than ever before, and all those meetings are bogging down our inboxes instead of filling conference rooms. To embrace the benefits of remote work, we can't make it about isolation. Whether you already work from home, would like to consider it for your future, or want to learn how to enjoy your work wherever you are, there are a few key points to keep in mind.
The foundation of remote work is a dedicated workspace. Writing requires a sense of privacy, even if I know I'm going to share my words with the world. Creativity can't be forced, so it's vital to have a comfortable environment. And no matter what your field of work is, you need creativity to succeed. A writer's fantasy is a spacious locked room with zero interruption. If you have any kind of sit-down job, you've probably wished for the same thing at some point. Yet, part of the appeal of remote work is the idea that we can't spread our wings if we work in a box. So how do we build an environment with balance? We need to know how to make space, whether in our home office or in a place we've never been. Distraction is the enemy of productivity. And I'm not just talking about "in your face" distractions like people and activities. The worst distractions can come from our minds. When your surroundings are unsettled, your thoughts will be too. I’ve learned the hard way how difficult it can be when my headspace reflects my workspace. A successful day starts with a few minutes to organize physical space and establish mental clarity through God.
"Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you." - Proverbs 4:25
Sometimes we need to be uprooted to receive inspiration. It's like our minds need a slight shift to knock the thoughts loose. About once a week, I pack up my laptop and spend a few hours at the library or a coffee shop. I'll be honest; there are times when I've had to head back home because of distractions, like when someone had an intense and musical phone meditation session in the middle of a quiet cafe. However, the reward usually outweighs the risk. Even if the farthest you go from your home is your porch, a change of scenery makes a huge difference. God is still with us during work hours, and we're more motivated to seek His direction when we feel connected to the world around us. I need times of complete solitude to focus, and other times I need to be around energy to refresh and move forward. My most productive self seeks rhythm. Wherever we work, we will get nowhere with apathy. We have purpose in Jesus, and we gain inspiration when we follow Him in everything we do.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." - Colossians 3:23
Remote work isn't just for introverts. I am an introvert, but despite popular belief, that doesn't mean I don't like to talk to people. It simply means I prefer to reserve my energy for deliberate interactions. Yes, remote work can be lonely. That can happen in any work environment. Working in the same building might make it easier to physically “bump” into people, but it doesn't mean we will find a connection. Passing conversation or obligatory discussion doesn't fill our need for real human connection. We are here to love God and love people, and to do that, we need to set aside time to build relationships. I've always desired independence, so it's easy for me to dive into my own little world. The most important lesson I've learned about remote work is that it improves my work-life balance when I'm proactive about setting a purpose within my “free” time. With no commute and a flexible location, I have more time to connect with people outside of work. The key is to draw a clear line to separate work and off-work time. Within work time, we have opportunities to seek guidance and reserve space to initiate collaboration.
It may seem like working from home is a chance to cut out all non-essential communication, but that's when we begin to feel like we are alone. Physical separation can serve as motivation to deliberately set time for intentional conversation. When we are discouraged, remember, we are never alone. Our energy and peace will always come from God.
“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!” - 1 Chronicles 16:11
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.