How to Work Remotely and Still Be a Boss

April 6, 2015


I love reading all the “day in the life” posts other bloggers write. I’m fascinated by people’s routines and the order in which they do things. I also just love seeing what my friends are up to. For the past few months, I’d considered writing a similar post. I actually started the post several times but worried it would be too boring. Everyone will just see that I work too much! is what I was actually worried about, haha. But then I realized that my own personal routine is probably a lot different from most people’s, because I work full-time from home and manage two blogs + do some freelance on the side, and I have a handful of lessons (and tools!) I want to share with anyone who might do the same.

First, a little backstory for those of you who are new here. Two years ago, after moving to Toronto for my then-new job with the company I still work for, I started to notice how unhappy I was. It wasn’t the job. I wasn’t homesick. I just didn’t feel good in Toronto; the city didn’t fit my lifestyle. I was up at 7:00am, out the door by 7:45am and in the office just after 8:30am (if the TTC cooperated). I worked all day, left around 5:30-6:00pm and didn’t get home until 7:30pm (stupid King streetcar). I ate a late dinner, tried to write a blog post or reply to comments and occasionally squeezed in some TV. Then I passed out around 11:30pm and repeated that Monday-Friday each week.

The part I struggled with the most, in that routine, is that I was out of the house for 12 hours/day “for work” and at least 2 of those were spent commuting – and I both lived and worked in the city. Could I have moved closer to the office? Sure. But my rent would’ve doubled and I knew we weren’t going to stay in that space forever, so it would’ve been a short-term solution to the bigger problem: I realized I wasn’t a city person. Even if I had lived across the street from the office, I didn’t love that my weekends were then spent either indoors in an attempt to escape the cold winter weather, or at bars, boozy brunch spots and tiny crowded parks.

Toronto felt like a place where people worked hard then played harder. I wanted to work well then get outside! So, I asked my boss if I could move back to British Columbia and work remotely. She agreed, so long as we mapped out a plan. I moved on March 26, 2013 and have been working remotely ever since.

Year 1

When we first started talking about taking my position remote, one of the things my boss was most concerned about was that I’d get lonely. She’d heard/read that a lot of remote workers felt isolated when working from home, and missed out on meeting and talking to people every day. At the time, we only had one other person who worked remotely on our team (there are now 5 of us) and he had a desk at a coworking space, so we agreed that I should get one too. Since my plan was to move to New Westminster, I decided to work at The Network Hub.

The first month of working remotely was definitely the hardest. I was sleeping on friend’s couches, trying to find a place of my own, eating too much takeout, trying to keep up with my blog and barely finding time to exercise. I was also waking up at 5:30am and starting work at that time. I assumed that because I’d worked 8:30am-6:00pm in Toronto, I needed to work those same hours remotely. I also assumed that I needed to be online/available at all times, or my boss/co-workers would think I wasn’t working. Neither of those assumptions was true, but it took a long time for me to realize that.

Even after I moved and settled into my own place, my “day in the life” routine was still a mess. I started work too early, broke my day up at awkward times in order to commute to my coworking space and back, and stayed online long into the night because I wanted everyone to know I was available. Things got even worse after my car accident because I was in so much pain I could barely move, so I was literally on my computer almost every hour I was awake. For that reason alone, it’s not surprising that I eventually had a panic attack, which was my body’s way of telling me this routine was not good.

Year 2

After the panic attack, I knew a couple things had to change. First, I couldn’t start work at such an early hour anymore. I’ve always been a morning person, but 5:30am was a little much even for me, so I asked my boss if I could push it to 6:30-7:00am and she agreed. “Nothing happens at 9:00am our time, anyway!” (<– And this is true.) Second, I decided to go to my coworking space less often. I loved meeting everyone there and having a couple people to say hi to and chat with every day, but multiple moves took me further away from the space and the commute had started to add stress to my day.

Shortly after entering my second year of working remotely, a friend moved up north and offered to give me his desk and computer chair. I hadn’t had a desk and chair to sit at since… I think the summer of 2008!? For six years, I’d done homework and written my blog from my laptop on the couch. Not surprisingly, the desk was a game changer. It added structure to my day in a way I didn’t know a piece of furniture could. Having somewhere to sit forced me to buckle down and work. Almost as soon as I got it, I gave up my desk at the coworking space.

Since switching to working from home full-time, it’s been a little bit of a struggle to create my new new routine, but I’ve continually tweaked and modified it so I can squeeze in everything I do/love most. Here’s what it looks like today, as I enter my third year of working remotely.

Year 3

5:30-6:00am – Wake up naturally. My alarm is set for 6:30am, but I usually wake up before 6:00am. I try to stay in bed until then, rather than jump up and rush around.

6:00-7:00am – The first thing I do in the morning is make my bed. I will not walk out of my bedroom until I’ve done that. It might sound a little “woo woo,” but I genuinely think that I sleep better at night if I crawl into a bed that’s already made. There’s also something about looking at a messy bed that just makes me feel like my entire life is a mess. (Oh, the ways our brains work.)

After I finish making my bed, I get dressed (<– This is key when you work from home). I wear the same pair of jeans every day, and swap between a few shirts, so I don’t waste time thinking about what to wear. From that moment on, I do whatever I want before 7:00am rolls around. I typically read a book or listen to a podcast, while I sip my coffee and eat breakfast (either two hard-boiled eggs or a banana*).

The one goal I’ve set for myself is to try and stay offline until 7:00am. There will always be work to do, emails to read, and blog comments and tweets to reply to. The internet never rests, but we have to. It took a long time for me to build this routine, but now that quiet hour first thing in the morning is my favourite part of the whole day. Seriously, the internet can wait.

*This is also where I’ll note that I eat almost the same thing every work day. It might sound boring, but meal planning on the weekend takes all the decisions out of what I’m going to eat during the week. It not only helps me save time by taking out any guesswork and meal prep, it also leaves me with only healthy options, so I’m never left scrambling or running downstairs to grab takeout.

7:00-9:30am – When 7:00am rolls around, I open Gmail and start working. The night before each work day, I add 3-4 things I want to tackle the next day to my Todoist list, so I always know what I need to do. (Can you tell I try to avoid decision fatigue? I swear it’s a productivity tip that works.) I quickly scan my inbox and make note of anything else that might be important then get started.

I don’t have an exact routine for what work I do first, but I know I do my best writing and editing first thing in the morning, so I try to schedule up our company blog first. We publish ~30 posts each month on our site plus send out 5-10 guest posts, which are all written by myself and my team of freelancers. If I can tackle a bunch of my writing/editing in the morning, I know it’s going to be a good day.

Break #1 – Whenever I finish what I’m working on around 9:30-9:45am, I take a break for 10-20 minutes. Sometimes I’ll do dishes and tidy up the kitchen, other times I’ll do an errand like take out the garbage or go get something from the grocery store for dinner. But similar to the way you’d take a coffee break at work, I force myself to get up and walk around for a few minutes in the morning.

9:45am-12:00pm – After my first break, I work for another 2-2.5 hours. Mid-morning is when I plan most of my meetings because it’s already the afternoon in Toronto and that’s what works best for everyone in the office. So, content meetings (we use Skype or GoToMeeting) and calls with partners/freelancers all happen mid-morning, along with whatever writing/editing I need to wrap-up.

Break #2 – I heart taking lunch breaks. Seriously, it took close to a year for me to feel comfortable logging off for 30 minutes because I felt like I needed to be online and available at all times. After making so many trips back to Toronto, though, I remembered that people in offices take real breaks! They walk away from their desks and go eat and chat with other people! So, that’s what I do.

Around 12:00-12:30pm, my stomach reminds me that I’m hungry, so I get up and walk away from my desk. I’ll make either a turkey + avocado sandwich or a greek salad (with protein like chicken or chickpeas) for lunch, then curl up on the couch, turn on Netflix and text a few friends. I might only watch 15-20 minutes of a show while I catch up with friends, but it’s my mini-mental break.

12:45-3:00pm – After lunch, I tackle whatever emails still need my attention. In a podcast interview, I heard Chris Brogan describe an inbox as “the delivery mechanism for other people’s priorities” and that really stuck with me. So, even when I see emails pop in throughout the day, I’ll quickly decide where they sit amongst my own priorities and deadlines, then read them more carefully in the afternoon.

I finish the work day by making sure I’ve crossed off the original 3-4 things from my Todoist list and adding 3-4 more for the next day. On Friday, I send an email to my boss that outlines everything I did that week, as well as a list of what I want to tackle the following week – and that’s what I use to pull my 3-4 things from each day, when that new week rolls around.

It’s taken me a couple years to get here, but I now work from 7:00am-3:00pm each day and am more productive in those hours than I ever was/am in the office. That’s 4 hours/day or 20 hours/week less than how long I was out of the house for on a work day in Toronto, including my old commute time – and I’m more efficient than ever, because I get 8 hours of (mostly) uninterrupted time to work.

3:00-4:30pm – When 3:00pm comes, it’s time to workout; I know this because I have an alarm on my phone that goes off Monday-Friday to remind me! I think it’s important for everyone to get 30 minutes of exercise each day, but it’s especially important for those of us who work from home. Without it, we would literally not move. (I once got less than 1,500 steps in a day!)

Fortunately, there’s a great gym in my condo building, so I just change and head downstairs. Sometimes, I skip the gym and go for walk/hike around the lake that’s not far from my place. I usually workout for 50-60 minutes then head back up to shower.

4:30-6:00pm – After I get cleaned up, it’s time to work on Blonde on a Budget. Since I typically only publish one post/week now (on Monday’s), I don’t have to worry about writing, but I do have to reply to comments, answer emails, etc. I’m also always doing little tweaks to the site (or big ones, as you can see today) and I’m finally setting up my newsletter (that only took me 900 years!).

6:00pm-Bed – Similar to my goal of staying offline until 7:00am, I recently set a new goal to get offline at 6:00pm and it has changed my life. By “get offline”, I mean no email, no social media, no blog, no nothing. If that sounds tough at first, it might be… except that whenever I go back and see what happened on Twitter from 6:00-9:00pm, the answer is nothing.

The minute I walk away from my computer, the night is mine. Sometimes I write or have freelance writing deadlines, but I mostly read, listen to podcasts and hang out with friends. I will admit that I have spent a good chunk of time working on a new budgeting tool for Blonde on a Budget, as well, but I know more summer evenings will be spent going for walks/hikes.

Anyway, by disconnecting from the internet at 6:00pm, my body and mind have more time to decompress and relax. It’s only been a few weeks since I started this, but I’ve already noticed that I’m sleeping better – sometimes for 8-9 hours/night! I’ve also found that I’m more inspired by new blog-related ideas because getting some distance from the screen gives me room to discover what I really want to do.

On the weekend, I usually have one day where I’ll go for a hike with a friend and then laze around for the rest of the day, then spend the other day writing my weekly post and working on other side projects. But I’ve created this intentional balance between work, my personal business, and fun, and nothing is stressing me out these days. :)

How to Work Remotely and Still Be a Boss

Sometimes, I feel like people hear that I work remotely and just assume I have the easiest job in the world, or that I should be extremely grateful for the opportunity to work in my pyjamas. While I don’t deny that it is a luxury, to some degree, working from home can also be really hard:

  • You miss out on face-to-face conversations amongst co-workers, which means you’re the last person to be told most things (from a change in work priorities to personal announcements)
  • You miss out on meetings with clients/partners, which hurts your chances of building those relationships
  • You miss out on team socials, which takes away opportunities to establish personal relationships with team members and build new memories together
  • You’re constantly disrupted by technological fails (Skype freezing, GoToMeeting dropping conference calls, etc.), and
  • You feel like you have to work 10x harder and produce 10x as much as before, to prove you’re actually working.

Instead of letting that stuff get me down, I, instead, try to take as many opportunities as I can to be proactive about asking for what I need/opening up lines of communication about all topics, so everyone knows I’m invested in our team and our mission. Some ideas to consider include:

  • Being the first to reach out and ask about a meeting you know a few team members went to, especially if it was with a client/partner
  • Taking the initiative and reaching out to clients/partners, so you can establish a relationship with them and make sure they know you’re available to help
  • Sending the odd message or email to your friends on the team, to check-in and just ask how they are doing, what’s new in their life, etc.
  • Asking each individual team member what they did at the end of the week, and compiling a weekly wrap-up to send out to the whole team (I do this every Friday and people love it!), and
  • Communicating with your boss regularly, and explaining if/when you’re having trouble creating boundaries for work at home (your boss will want to make sure you only work a regular amount of hours).

And if I could give only one piece of advice, it would be this:

No, that doesn’t mean you should only work when you have the energy to; it means you should pay attention to how you feel at all times, so you can establish a routine that will help you stay productive throughout the day. Working from home is hard! It’s so easy to get sucked into your screen for 8-9 hours and barely move. If you want to successfully work from home, you’ll need to continually assess your routine to figure out when you’re most productive, where you should squeeze in breaks throughout the day, how you can stay healthy and, most importantly, what will keep you motivated.

Oh – and only get a desk at a coworking space if it’s within a reasonable distance from you. If you have to drive for more than 20 minutes, you’ll never go – take it from me. And if that’s the case, and you are going to work solely from home, you need a designated workspace away from everyone else in your home; it will increase your productivity tenfold.

That was a doozy. Any questions? :)

  • @melissymelissa April 6, 2015 at 5:18 am

    I love these types of posts! I’m glad you mentioned the difficulties involved in working from home because I was already planning my comment about how envious I was haha

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      Haha, well and that’s ok! I *get* why people think it sounds awesome… there are just a lot of drawbacks people don’t think of, especially before they jump into it themselves.

  • Mary April 6, 2015 at 5:52 am

    This was a great post! I also work remotely and identified with alot of what you said, especially the drawbacks and how you worry about proving you’re working. I have gotten better about boundaries in term of being “at work” but this post is a great reminder.

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      I’m so glad you could relate to it, Mary! How long have you been working remotely for? What kind of work do you do? :)

  • Gretchen April 6, 2015 at 6:41 am

    Wow! This was a long read, but totally worth it! When I’m working with clients remotely, I always feel like I ALWAYS need to be available. I have trouble realizing that my clients know family time is important, too! After all, that’s why I work from home! Great article!

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      I know, that was one of the longest posts I’ve ever written, haha… but it all felt important! Glad you took something from it, Gretchen. Family time IS important. Your clients know it. (And you are the boss, I assume?)

  • Petrish @ Debt Free Martini April 6, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Starting next year I plan on going back to college full-time and work on my blog, so I love reading post like this just to get an insight of what my life may be like. I can’t wait to get out of my current job and have more flex time to do what I love. Thank you for sharing your day in a life.

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      That’s exciting, Petrish! What are you going back to school for?

  • Alyssa April 6, 2015 at 7:23 am


    This is incredible! Reading your progression from the first year working remotely until now is very interesting. It seems like you have quite the routine down! I especially like the fact that you pay attention to your energy & health – those are extremely important! I was curious about the signing off the internet at 6pm, have you found yourself charging through productive tasks & audiobooks?! I work a traditional 8-5pm where I barely use the internet (only emails), unless it’s on my lunch break or a quick “mental break” my boss allows our team throughout the day. My only way to truly catch up is in the morning, or after 5pm when I get off. Then it seems like I’m cramming side work, internet catch up, dinner, work out, and leisure reading before going to bed at a reasonable hour – which is just silly! I’m very curious because I may need to set a sign off time too, so I don’t feel like
    I’m rushing through my hobbies that slow my mind down. :)

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      Omg, I fly through stuff after 6pm! Today is a bad example, as I’m sick and napped for almost 3 hours after work, haha… so I’m on here. But yes, my kitchen is spotless before 7pm, and then I’m crushing books in 2-3 days or getting through all kinds of tasks I’d previously thought I didn’t have time for. It’s amazing.

      In your situation, I’d probably say give yourself time to check social media after work + be thoughtful about what you share/comment on. But then “get offline” and just work on your side hustle. That’s more important than replying to a tweet right away (anything can wait until the morning).

      It’s almost like giving a kid a TV restriction. But we need them, too! Seriously. ;)

  • Amanda @ My Life, I Guess April 6, 2015 at 7:24 am

    While I was laid off over the summer, I struggled a lot with the things you mention. I got super lonely. I felt like I had to work all the time (which is kind of silly, because I was unemployed and was putting this pressure on myself). I didn’t have a routine. I didn’t leave the house. And guess what? I didn’t get much done.
    Things were a little better when I did set up my desk at home, but I still spent most of my time being unproductive.
    I’m really happy that you found a balance that works for you! I’m jealous that you get to set your own day (within reason). This is probably the worst part of my current part-time employment – not having a routine! I work shift work. My fiance works shift work. So one day we’re up at 4am because he works at 5am, and the next I’m still at work at 9pm. I find it it be a really hard way to live, and I crave more structure.

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      I would find shift work more difficult now, as I thrive when I have a routine, but I did it up until I was 22 or so (including overnights) and still maintained some amount of routine. I think the key is to finding 2-3 things you enjoy doing daily (even if it’s just seeing your fiance or sharing one meal together) and making sure you get those in.

  • L April 6, 2015 at 8:38 am

    I love the new look :) Great post and very insightful!!

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      Thanks, L! :)

  • Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore April 6, 2015 at 8:59 am

    I wish I could work remotely, but it’s a pipe dream for my current employer as I work and live in a small town and my commute is only like 5 minutes. I just think I’d more be productive at home since I could work on my own schedule and without the distractions of the office.

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      If my office was 5 minutes away, I’d probably go in for a couple hours each day or 1-2 days/week. But yes, I totally forgot to touch on how distracted I am, when I’m in the office now! It’s natural, of course, since I’m not there often… so we’re constantly chatting, having meetings, etc. But I typically have to work twice as hard the week before I go to Toronto, to get a ton of stuff done, because I know I won’t get much done while I’m there.

  • Rochelle April 6, 2015 at 9:09 am

    This post came at the perfect time. I switched from a day job to full-time freelance work at the beginning of the month, and really struggled with maintaining my productivity when I was left on my own. I’m trying out the whole “working at Starbucks” thing today. I don’t like the idea of spending money to have a place to work, but at least I’m actually working…

    Thanks for the timely post!

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      I work really well in coffee shops, Rochelle! So long as the background noise isn’t *too* loud and the Wi-Fi is decent. Bring headphones, turn on some classical music (oddly, the “scores” to all the Twilight movies help me blast through writing and editing) and enjoy the atmosphere. Good luck! And don’t be hard on yourself, if you find it’s hard to stick to a routine. It takes time to find when the perfect hours are *for you*.

  • Sara Oss April 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

    I work from home 3-4 days per week even though my office is local and I think it’s the best balance for me. 100% from home would feel like I’m avoiding my coworkers. I have found that I do best at keeping my work limited to the workday by packing up my work bag at the end of each day so I’m not looking at work stuff all night.

    I’m curious when and how you decided to scale back to one weekly post on the blog. For a while I haven’t been sure whether you were just in a busy season or if you had made an intentional decision to step back. Also – how do you not get distracted by your own blog during the workday?

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      Ooo, I like that trick, Sara! I can’t put my iMac away, haha, but I do sometimes put my work notebooks under other notebooks, so I don’t look at them. Good one. :)

      Great questions re: the blog. I made the intentional decision to only write once/week back in… I think mid-February? It was actually a result of two conversations I had with friends when I was in NYC about how I was struggling to keep up with the blog. I realized that I really enjoyed writing longer/more thoughtful posts (as seen here, haha) rather than short/fluffy ones. I like these posts because they let me dive deep, spur much more thoughtful comments and deliver fantastic conversations/connections all week. And then the bonus, of course, is it gives me the rest of the week off! So I’ve been testing that theory (with the odd extra post thrown in here and there, when it made sense) and think I’ve finally found my groove.

      As for not getting distracted by it during the day, that used to be tough! But, again, I’m just finally in a really good groove. So I share my post on social media at 7:00am, check Twitter throughout the day and then reply to comments at night. It seems to work. :)

  • Sarah April 6, 2015 at 9:35 am


    I love love love this post. You know that it came at the exact right time for me, as I’m struggling with adding structure in my day now that I’m working from home.

    I feel like today is the first time I’ve nailed the actual daily routine. I have always had and cherished my morning routine, and credit it for a lot of the progress I’ve made on Unsettle and other things, but the daily routine when you work from home is absolutely necessary.

    I also have been struggling with not checking my email first thing but today I’ve actually stuck to my guns. It’s 9:30 and I haven’t checked it yet :) 10:00 AM is my first email checking time and that’s something I’ll be sticking to.

    Thank you for this!

    P.S. I didn’t show you my office on Saturday but I’m working in my office for the first time today. Up until now it’s been the couch or the kitchen counter which is horrid.

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 8:36 pm

      No email before 10:00am sounds great! Unfortunately, I can’t do *that*… but I don’t really read my emails until the afternoon, like I said (unless it’s from my boss or the subject looks important).

      And yes, you’ll have to show it to me next time!

  • Chela @SmashOdyssey April 6, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I loved this, especially seeing the progression from your first year of working from home to now, and all the lessons you’ve learned. I definitely agree that having a desk is game-changing. I’ve always loved having a desk, even when I was a kid in my bedroom–now in our tiny two bedroom apartment, one room is designated as “the office” because this is super important to us. Can’t work without it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Yea, the minute I got the desk, I wondered how the heck I’d lived without it for so long, haha.

  • Colin Easton April 6, 2015 at 11:08 am


    This has been such a useful post to read. I’ve given up my ‘regular’ job and hope to work out the being self-employed/working part-time, ideally from home, myself.

    Some days, I feel overwhelmed thinking about how to best create a routine and environment that will help me to formulate good working habits and processes. Thanks for giving me this malleable list to reference! Congratulations on your journey – you’ve come a long way,and I’m grateful to bear witness. You’ve also helped so many others by your honest, open dialogue, both successes and mistakes. We learn most when open and vulnerable, plus willing to fail. Thank you for sharing!

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you for being a wonderful and supportive friend, Colin! Let’s do coffee again soon and talk about your new routine at home. :) xo

  • Jill April 6, 2015 at 11:48 am

    This was super interesting and informative. I’m actually considering getting a work from home job Bc I want to be location independent so this is great food for thought! In the future I think many more people are going to be working from home. For many desk jobs commuting just doesn’t make sense any more

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      I 100% agree, Jill. The job market is changing drastically, and it’s much more cost-effective for employees to work from home than have to rent office space (if it’s not needed). I’m curious to see how many more people will be working remotely in another 5-10 years…

  • Kristen April 6, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I loved to read about your routine.

    I work for myself and have 20 different projects I am responsible for. It is a lot to juggle. I have days at home (where I actually do better at taking breaks then when I am in the office) and I have days in the community and I have days in the office. I have had to learn to be flexible.

    My day starts 1.5 hours before I have to leave the house. I start with taking the dogs for a 2-3 km walk. I eat breakfast (this month is is oatmeal, but periodically it changes), I check my email, I read a few blog posts, then I get ready and work. Days at home I try and take breaks. I find doing laundry forces me to get up every hour or so. Other days I am trying to make sure I have a little break.

    At the end of the day, I pick my 3-5 big tasks for the next day. I try and limit my hours in the evening, although I usually check my email one last time before bed (people often cancel appointments that way and it is really annoying to get up at 5 to find out I could have stayed in bed until 6:30!) In the evenings, I sometimes work (1-2 per week and I am working to take a day/half day off during the week to balance this), but I am trying to add another 2-3 km walk at least 4 nights a week and to make my lunch (leftovers or sometimes I make soup or something for the week).

    In an ideal world my schedule would be more consistent, but that is not the job I picked! I create as much consistency as I can and I work to maximize my productive time.

    Thanks for sharing your attempts at balance!

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Ah, so it sounds like you have a legitimate reason to check your email before bed! I avoid it at all costs (even though nothing stressful comes in, but it’s often task-related and makes me think about work) but I’d definitely check it if I was in your position. It sounds like you have a great routine, Kristen! One day (when I travel less), I’ll adopt a dog and add dog walks to mine. That’s something I really miss… dogs are the best. :)

  • Shannon April 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I too, LOVE hearing about peoples days. I love hearing peoples routines & daily habits. I find it interesting that you eat the same thing every day in a week! I would definitely not be able to do that, but all the power to you because you can!! My inbox (both at work & personally) are both managed by priority, so I give it a quick glance and decide if it needs action immediately or not and go from there. Inbox/email organization is VERY helpful.

    Love reading your blog :)

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Yea, there’s often a lot of push-back with the food comment. And I get it – I love to cook/bake and enjoy all types of food! But during the day, I’m too busy to think about that. Eggs, fruit, sandwich or salad – it’s just easy and nutritious. Dinner is another story. :)

  • Rob April 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Yes Cait, I can relate to your worklife mode – not personally but through the activities of our son who’s worked in IT for IBM for the past 18 years remotely from his house. Having his wife and kids there does present challenges but he’s managed things pretty well over the years. He does have a separate “office” room there, with a desk, chair, etc. so that he can work away from the rest of the family with the door closed. It does serve him well not to have to do any daily commuting (especially in terrible winter weather). As well, being home, he is present should any family emergencies arise. Unlike you, however, he has it a bit tougher in that he has time zone issues to balance, dealing with others who work around the world (India, Brazil, the U.S., to name a few). Regardless, he still makes quality time for his off-work interests (baseball coaching, beaver leader, rock climbing, etc). To keep visible with his workmates, besides daily teleconferencing, he and others who work remotely routinely travel every few weeks to spend a day at Head Office and have some in-your-face time. It’s not a lifestyle that just anyone can do well (certainly not moi) but he handles it well.

    One question for you: while working every day at home, do you work in silence or do you have perhaps some background music or radio playing? I’ve always wondered about that but never asked our son that question.

    • Rob April 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      One more question please (before heading off to bed here – lol) – when and how often do you take a vacation away from your busy work-at-home life? Our hard charging busy Type A daughter tries to schedule a one week vacation with her family each quarter of the year. Remember now, all work and no play can make Cait a dull girl, ya know! :-)

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      Wow, the drastic time zone differences would be tough, for sure. But I imagine it just takes a little bit of patience from everyone to make it work. Thanks for sharing his experiences here with us!

      And great questions! I typically work in silence, but sometimes turn on classical music or the musical scores (no lyrics) to movie soundtracks. (Oddly enough, Harry Potter and the Twilight series’ have great scores to work to.) In general, though, music distracts me from writing and editing, so I usually just work in silence.

      I totally forgot to talk about vacation! For the first year or so, I worked everywhere I went. Actually, I even did this in December, when I went to NYC – but it was a total pain in the butt, as it’s actually really difficult to find a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi in NYC (go figure). But I have taken a couple of short vacations. I took a few days off in August, when we drove my brother out to Alberta for school. I took 3 days off in February, when I went back to NYC. And I’m going to take a full week off in May, for my next trip! It takes some planning, and some extra work before I go, but that’s the same for most jobs. :)

  • Lindsey @ Cents, Sense & Sensibility April 6, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Hey Cait! I love those day in the life posts as well. One thing I will say is I like how real you are about how difficult it was to find something that worked for you. It’s a huge adjustment and I can relate that there is a lot of pressure to keep up the appearances of being “productive” and “available”. I love that you found something that works so well for you! Cheers lady.

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Yea, it’s like that saying you always hear: work smarter, not harder. I knew that! I’d heard it so many times. But it took a long time (and some long days/weeks) for its meaning to finally sink in. Better late than never, though, I guess. :)

  • Ronnica, Striving Stewardess April 6, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I used to pick up my phone first thing to check messages, email and social media. I’ve starting making myself not pick it up the first hour of the day and am loving it. It makes it all seem much less pressing (because it’s really not).

    • Cait Flanders April 6, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      You’re right – it’s really not! The messages will always be there. :)

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods April 7, 2015 at 3:47 am

    I love reading about your day! Other people’s routine fascinate me and it sounds like you’ve got a great system in place. I like that you divide your day up so precisely by the hour–that seems like an ideal way to ensure you’re not constantly working. I’m with you on making the bed first thing–we always do and I can’t imagine leaving it a tangle of sheets!

    • Cait Flanders April 7, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      Just thinking about that makes me feel anxious/annoyed, haha.

  • Rob April 7, 2015 at 5:41 am

    One last comment on remote working, Cait and that relates to working with free Wi-Fi in coffee shops. Unlike working behind secure routers in Head Office and/or home environments, working in coffee shops doesn’t offer that same protection against hacking / privacy concerns so please use with caution especially when private confidential information is involved. Personally I never ever use a computer in a coffee shop. Why take risks is my way of thinking.

    Here’s a link to an interesting article on this issue:

    • Cait Flanders April 7, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks for the link, Rob!

  • Elizabeth April 7, 2015 at 6:08 am

    Is there a link for your other blog? I looked but couldn’t find it….I am a little tech challenged!

    • Cait Flanders April 7, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      You’re not! I’ve just never really mentioned it. I work with my good friend J$ on Rockstar Finance. :)

  • Michelle April 7, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    What a great read! I need to get back to unplugging from social media at night. I end up wasting so much time checking things that aren’t happening, then you get into the comparing game. Not good. It can be tough working from home but it has its advantages too. I’m a hybrid on the road/work from home type, so I still see people but not always my co-workers. I always make sure I schedule a walk into my day if I’m working from home.

    • Cait Flanders April 7, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      I could’ve used a walk today, haha. Maybe tomorrow! It’s supposed to be 17C. :)

  • allroundbetterme April 7, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I really enjoy learning about other people’s schedules. I would love to work from home, but I’d definitely need a designated work space, which I don’t really have right now… I’m working on it, but might take some time… and some renovations… Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    • Cait Flanders April 8, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      I would be lost without my desk. I don’t know how I lived without it for so long!

  • Potato April 7, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Oh, the Toronto commute is so soul-killing. With the constant delays and mishaps it sucks something like 12 hours per week out of my life (more with things like this morning’s SNAFU), which is time I used to use to like, have fun and be healthy and stuff when I didn’t have a commute. But this is where baby’s grandparents are, so that cursed network effect at work.

    You’d think my day job (editor) is naturally suited to working remotely, but there are institutional policies against such a thing. Glad to hear it’s going well for you, and after today I’m going to start another search for more location-independent opportunities…

    • Cait Flanders April 8, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      Soul-killing is the perfect way to describe it. Ugh. Good luck in your search!

  • Kali @ XY Planning Network April 8, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Love the tweaks to the site! Beautiful :) I love this post, too. I am STILL struggling to figure out a good routine, but this might be the reminder I need to set something and stick. to. it. I remember you telling me my new “day job” would offer more structure and you’re absolutely right. The failing-to-routine thing is just laziness on my part. Time to fix that!

    • Cait Flanders April 8, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Thanks, lady! And I don’t think it’s lazy – just keep tweaking your day, until you find some hours that work best for you!

  • Bette April 11, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Two quick comments —

    I’m not sure what kind of work you do, other that it involves writing and editing and clients. Can you elaborate while still maintaining your privacy?

    Since you started your job in Toronto working face-to-face with your boss and coworkers, I’m guessing it was easier to switch to teleworking since you had solid relationships in place. I wasn’t as lucky and was hired directly into a telework position — it was VERY hard to establish credibility when I’d never met anyone on the team.