Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Working from home — tips from an experienced digital nomad

In the midst of the Corona Virus (Spring 2020), a lot of people are finding themselves working remotely for a while.  As a digital nomad, I have been working remotely for nearly six years.  Here's some tips to help you with the process:

  1. Designate one room to being your office.  After work, you can keep separation from "work".  Try to stay away form "work" when not working.  That separation from work/home is VERY important.
  2. Set strict hours.  Believe it or not, it can be easy to overwork when it's there all the time.  That's a recipe for burnout.
  3. Home is work. Work is home.  Although we try to keep as much separation as possible, it's an undeniable fact.  This means it's perfectly acceptable to do laundry on your breaks.  And if you have to answer an email after hours, so be it.  Just TRY to not go crazy on either end (working too much, doing other things too much) — although it's ultimately unavoidable.  Which leads us too....
  4. Take the FULL hour lunch break.  Even if you don't sit down for a full hour, being at home is going to trigger you to start doing something when you should be working.  If you bang out a solid work day on Monday with no breaks, and then suddenly find yourself disinfecting the house for two hours on Wednesday, it all evens out at the end of the week.
  5. Go for a run, bike ride, hike, or something in the middle of the day when no one else is out there.  Especially important when we are all trying to social distance!  If you go for a two hour bike ride, then add two hours at the end of the day.  If you use Strava, look at the "Elapsed Time" to see how much extra time you need to work.  DO NOT TRY TO USE THAT HOUR LUNCH BREAK FOR EXERCISE TIME. You're gong to need that time elsewhere like for getting ready, taking a quick shower, and/or a short yoga session after the run/ride.  If you start work at 6am, go for a two hour ride, then you're still off at 5pm.  Since you no longer have a commute, that's still a lot of time for yourself at the end of the day.
  6. Bulk cook healthy things while you are at home!  For example, you can fire up the grill, work while it heat ups, throw on some chicken thighs, work until you need to flip, and then take it off the grill with little work time wasted.  Like eggs in the morning?  You're right there to cook them up!
  7. If you don't already, listen to podcasts!  I personally like to watch on a separate monitor with podcasts with video.  Thus, I feel like I'm part of a conversation.  Just don't watch anything too over stimulating.  Movies are a NO-NO!  If you can't be efficient while watching/listening, turn it off.
  8. For ultimate remote flexibility, invest in a USB powered full HD monitor (like the two I have displayed), a wireless mouse, and a wireless keyboard.  Don't expect your employer to pay for them.  But hey, how much would you pay for freedom!?
  9. Make sure to be social extra outside of work!!! Okay, maybe wait until after this quarantine of course.  Remote work sacrifices social interaction with co-workers.  Chatting with them on various messaging platforms helps, but is not a great substitute.  Thus, remote workers need to make sure they are seeing friends/family more.  If you don't, your mental health WILL start deteriorating.
  10. WORK YOUR 🍑 OFF!  If you like working remotely, and this is your first time doing so, you better prove to your employer you work better from home!
Working from home can be a tough balance since work is right there, and so is that "to-do" list.  If you go a little crazy with working too much, flex that time elsewhere (as long as you're manager is okay with it).  If you go a little crazy on the to-do list, work more at the end of the day. Or even on a weekend morning — no commute makes that easy!  As long as you (and you're employer) are flexible, you can strike a perfect balance of work/life.

In closing, I invite to enjoy not having to raise your blood pressure on the daily commute  Being able to have access to healthy foods you can prep on the spot making you work more efficiently.  Having more flexibility in life.  And if you are a new parent, being able to see your child develop everyday.  That's an experience I hold close to my ❤.

And remember, when this quarantine is all over, anywhere with an internet connection can potentially be a workplace 😉  So if you are loving working remotely then maybe, just maybe, you could be a digital nomad too.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Lets talk about depression

Depression so deep and painful, you don't feel like moving, let alone breathing.  I've certainly been there.  Sometimes only a day or two.  Other times for months.  It can happen even when I'm in a beautiful location, and life is great.  Like it did when I was in Sevilla, Spain this last December and the following months.  Alas, this is normal for me.

During the times within the darkness, all I can do is count my blessings (which is a lot) and stay the course.  Keep working, keep grinding.  Even though I don't feel like moving.  Just keep telling myself that this is a temporary chemical imbalance.  Because that is exactly what it is, and I know I'll get through it.

Fortunately, as of the time of this posting, I can say that I am of sound mind free of the claws of depression.  Although admittedly, I started this writing weeks ago in the midst of the darkness.  Please know that I wrote this NOT to implore pity.  Rather, to put these thoughts into the world to let others know they are not alone.  To evoke discussion around their own experiences with depression.

As a lifelong sufferer of depression, I know how painful depression can be. How it can feel unbearable at times. How the venom of your own depression can drag down the loved ones around you. Trick your mind into believing you are a burden to the world.

Even if brief, I would be lying to say my mind hasn’t been poisoned with this mindset from time to time.  Be that as it may, this false reality never stays in my mind for long. Nor have I ever felt too close to the edge that I couldn’t easily step away from this mindset.  I am grateful for that, and for the ability to mitigate my depression.

I attribute a lot of my mitigation of depression through being an endurance athlete.  The combination of a clean diet, and exercise can do wonders for depression.  But I often wonder if my desire to ride long hours alone in the wilderness isn’t me trying to run away from something from my past.  Perhaps the scares from being a child of divorce (like too many others) and being so painfully shy.  Or is it trading in one bad addiction for another that is more socially acceptable in the name of being an “athlete”.  Even if socially acceptable, I cannot deny that it is absolutely an addiction.

Furthermore, to be a competitive endurance athlete takes the ability to put oneself into extreme pain.  I always felt that there is a degree of darkness in this.  An internal hatred of oneself to be able to push so hard.

At the same time, being an athlete has bestowed a confidence in me that I never had before.  Shaped me into the person I am today.  Made me a better Father, Husband, employee, and all-around human being.

But do I lean too much on being an athlete to feel good about myself?  And how many times has being an athlete been a negative on my life and my loved ones?  Nevertheless, I still believe the positives far outweigh the negatives.

I also question what I will do when it’s over.  As a seasoned athlete, I can’t deny that I am getting closer to the top of the bell curve as far as year to year athletic gains.  There will be a time when gains become loses, and I will need to reevaluate not just if I want to continue to pursue being an athlete.  I will need to evaluate how that will affect my entire life.

To be an elite athlete takes every element of your life and soul to endure.  And when that’s gone, you better have a strong exit strategy.  Already, I am mentally preparing myself for that day.

Until then, I will keep pursuing this addiction.  Keep hoping that it is a just treatment for the darkness that is my own depression.  And hope that when it’s all over, I can let go of this crutch and walk on my own two feet without it.

In conclusion, I pray my friends I call fellow athletes have a more positive path that guides them down the same journey.  And if they do share the same battles with darkness, that they will let me, or someone know before it becomes too much.  Don’t let the darkness swallow you my friends.  You are loved.

#letstalkaboutdepression #shredthestigma

Go4Graham Foundation

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).