Tips for Graphic and Web Designers working remotely

In the Graphic and Web Design profession, working remotely is commonplace whether you're a salaried employee, a contractor or a freelancer. I've worked remotely for the most part since day one. Here are some tips I learned along the way to help you adjust and thrive:

Get a home office

Maintaining a professional mindset is essential and a big part of that is the physical space you work in. Set up a home office, the best you can. We're all different so this may not be how you get your creative juices flowing. Take it from me, the nomadic worker is not the norm. It's difficult to be productive without screen real estate, access to all of your tools and most importantly a routine.

Have a routine

Discipline comes from practice and execution. As much as I can, I control when I work, how I work and keep a schedule. Here is an example of a typical Monday for me:

7 am-9 am
morning routines (shower, workout, personal time)
check emails, Trello, Asana for emergencies from my phone as I workout and make breakfast
9 am
open yesterday's end of day messages from contractors, set priorities for the day, send morning email laying it out
10 am
reviewing my own tasks for the day and estimating where my 'breaks' are. breaks are important so I can stretch my legs. Usually, I have some sort of interruption that I can weave in while walking around the kitchen

10:30 am - 5:30pm
focused work time. This is the time I'm actively working on tasks, I typically work without a lunch break but I do take breathers when I feel I'm tired.

Here there is a choice to be made, and this all depends on your goals. I happen to be focused on building savings so I tend to work 6 pm-10 pm most weekdays on top of my normal 9-5. I'm not necessarily working for clients at this time, often I'm working on my own business development and growth.

Make a personal connection

People you work with want to know you, so they can trust you. This means opening up and letting a consultation call run off track a bit to talk about the weather, your kids, your last vacation and so on. I consider myself introverted and I understand this may be hard for some but being easy-going and human is as important to your success as anything.

I help myself do this by sending video messages instead of screenshots. When I do send screenshots I mark them up with handwritten notes. When I have a call with a client, I know Joe likes to talk for an hour, I know Susan has a hard time staying on topic and I accept these quirks - then make time for it. This means I openly discuss how I'm charging them for these phone calls and why. At the end of the day, people value a personal connection and the ability to reach out and be heard and will pay for it.

Make a list, obey it

This is a key for self-starters. You have to excel and creating your own work, dictating it to yourself, and doing as you're told. Remember, there is nobody around to hold you accountable so having a list of some sort saying what you MUST get done today will give you a boss. You'll be astonished at how must you'll underestimate what you can achieve in a day and that positive feeling of getting something done will lift your energy as the sun goes down.

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