The antidote to your never-ending ‘to do’ list

Remote work has many benefits. Freedom from a commute, the ability to travel, to meet new people, to work in different timezones and currencies, or simply to spend some more time at home.

However there’s one thing that remote work has given me that is inherently valuable. It is priceless, and it is the main reason why I encourage so many people to go remote.

It is : S P A C E.

Remote work gives you space in your life. It allows you to slow down, and take stock of your life.

When you work a 9–5, it can be all consuming. Why? Because you’re not really doing a 9–5. You’re doing more than that. From the moment you get up, you’re getting ready for work. You’re scraping the ice off your car, or walking to the bus stop.

You’re finishing work at 5, and perhaps driving for forty minutes or sitting on a bus in a traffic jam for twenty. And then, because you had a rushed lunch break, you want to grab some dinner for tonight, so you swing by the supermarket. Another twenty minutes. Then, because you’ve sat at a desk all day, you might go to the gym. Another hour.

By the time you’ve done things for you, those neccessary self-care things like fed yourself a good meal (not a microwaved ready meal), exercised, or maybe destressed and had a bath (not to mention looking after others), there is very little of the day left. You just flop into bed.

The weekends go fast, too. You want to see loved ones. You have household chores to do. You have presents to buy, your hair to cut, or your car to wash.

Your life seems like a never-ending ‘to do’ list.

Ugh, no thanks.

Remote work allows you to slow down.

In much of the western world, we have become so busy, we don’t even have time to think. It is, as Guy Kawasaki calls it, the ‘glorification of busy.’ Our diaries get booked up months in advance. Our life is a whirlwind, flashing by before our eyes.

We are busying ourselves to the point of insanity.

Why do I love remote work?

Because if I want to, I can work less.

I can take a long walk on the park. I can have two hours sunbathing on the beach. I can take time to meditate, to review my life goals on a regular basis, and have a lot more time for self-care.

Yes, I want time to slip away, not because I’m busy but because I’m still.

I want to lose time in a sunset, in someone’s eyes, in a magnetic conversation over lunch. That’s what matters to me. I don’t want to spend my life frazzled and frantic. The never-ending pursuit of wealth is not my sole agenda.

Just like the tide, I can flow in and out when it comes to remote work. I can work less on the weeks that I am sick, have my ‘time of the month’, or have other commitments, and I can work day and night and round the clock when my energy is supercharged.

I’m more in tune with nature, and the cyclical rhythms of my body. I’m not ‘always on’. I am a harmonised balance.

Of course, it’s not all roses. Deciding why remote work is important to me has meant I have had to seriously reassess my priorities in comparison to others. This has been the hardest, because I have to consistently remind myself what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

It means I have to look after my money a lot more. I end up earning in a cyclical manner, like the seasons — work very hard, relax, work very hard. I have to take care of it, preserve it, and manage it. I can’t relentlessly spend. But I have done in the past, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out. For me, the space that I gain in my life far outweighs the possibility of having a big house or flashy car.

I have started to practice the principles of minimalism. I have reduced a lot of my possessions, and now mainly own just clothes and books. I watch videos to educate myself on passive income, and living off grid.

As long as I can travel, meet new people and feel free, that’s all I need.

For a lot of people, most of their ‘being’ time comes at retirement. They are so busy ‘doing’, that when it comes to enjoying their life they are weaker or have less energy.

In a way, the pressures of the modern world and the 9–5 have actually done me a great service. All that time sat miserable at a desk made me ask the questions ‘But what am I doing this for?’ ‘Do I actually want this lifestyle?’

You see, most of us don’t need very much apart from good weather, friends, laughter and good food. We’re just conditioned to believe we need more.