automattic, career

Top Tips for Working Remotely

Sarah Blackstock's Top Tips for Working Remotely

If you work remotely or have considered it, you’ve most likely seen lots of advice about how to do it successfully, including how you should dress like you’re going into an office or have a whole room dedicated for your office space. And you know what? I don’t agree.

I’ve worked remotely successfully for over two years now (currently: at Automattic for, and the secret is: Do what works best for you. Try lots of variations until you get the right combination, and then be willing to change it up once those things aren’t working as well for you anymore.

Here are my top tips for how to work from home:

  1. Wear whatever you want! Take advantage of not having to go into an office and dress however you’re most comfortable while working. Do you need the structure of a business casual outfit to get in the right mindset? Fine. But if you don’t? Get cozy! My loungewear and sweatpants collection has expanded vastly over the past two years. When they became my work wardrobe, I wanted lots of cute options!
  2. Work from home or anywhere. Just remember to leave your house! I’m 100% fine with being on my own a lot of the time, so I don’t get that stir crazy feeling from staying home unless I stay in for quite a long stretch. If that happens, I make a Target run, out among the people, and I’m all set. If you need more time out than that, find a café or coffee shop and spend a workday there. I’m not big on official coworking spaces (too much networking and distraction), but I love a few hours at a table with coffee, snacks, and prime people watching at the local café. I also meetup with my local coworkers about once a month, so if you’ve got any nearby, plan a coworking session with them!
  3. Don’t sit at a desk all day every day unless you really want to. So many remote working tips include needing a dedicated work space. I have a desk, but do I spend all day there? Nope. Some days I spend no time at all at my desk. I let my tasks for the day and mood determine where I’ll be. I’ve worked from my couch, the dining table, standing next to a shelf holding my computer, the back porch on a sunny day, and even bundled up in bed. If you’re not home alone while working, a room you can work in with the door closed is a big plus, but don’t lock yourself in there every day unless you must. I like to change up what I’m looking at, so I tend to move around my house throughout the day.
  4. Take advantage of your very short commute. Instead of just working more because your commute was about 10 seconds, make time to take care of yourself throughout the day. You can have fantastic breakfasts and lunches, if you want. I like to spend my lunch break totally away from my computer doing yoga, watching an episode of a show I’m into, or reading for a while. Whatever I do, the point is to reset my brain for an afternoon of work, so it shouldn’t include working while I eat.
  5. Remember to take breaks. When you’re home, especially if you’re working from a particularly cozy spot, it can be easy to skip the breaks and work through several hours. But your eyeballs need to look away from the computer screen and your body needs a stretch, so make time for those too! You could take a quick walk around the block, workout, or do absolutely nothing for two minutes. I have a whole post of self-care ideas you can use for ideas on how to spend your breaks.

Basically, do what works! Don’t feel obligated to follow all the advice you see out there (including in this post!) unless it truly works best for you. Mix it up and find your favorites!

books, reading

Five Top Tips for Reading More Books


I’m a big reader. I got off track logging my books as I read them in Goodreads this year to prove I met my goal of over 100, but I’m confident I did. No doubt about it, even without the proof, I know I’m well over it. So if you’ve been wishing you’d find a way to read more books, I’ve got the tips for you! (And no, I’m not going to tell you to stop watching television. I love TV too.)

Last year I shared ideas for How to Read More Books in 2016, and I’m back today with five more top tips to help you along the way. I recommend reading the first post for the entry-level ideas to get started, and adding in these next five to level-up your reading habits.

  1. Give yourself a book budget. I don’t mean this as a way to decrease your book spending, but to increase it guilt-free. If you’ve set aside X dollars for books per month, it’s perfectly fine to spend the entire amount on books. It’s not meant for anything else. Buy books and stack them up to tempt you. Or fill out your ebook collection, so you’ll always find one that you’re in the mood to read anytime you browse your virtual bookshelves.
  2. Go to bed early, but don’t actually go to sleep. I go to bed at a laughably early hour very often because I settle in, get cozy, and read fiction. I often read tweets by people making jokes about going to bed early while I’m already in bed, to be honest. Sometimes I’m there so early, I get a few hours of reading in. (My problem is usually making myself stop to actually go to sleep at some point.)
  3. Always keep a book with you. Like Rory Gilmore, a book should be your constant companion. Luckily you don’t have to weigh your bag down like her if you don’t want to. Your phone is a perfectly fine place to store a current read to dive into on-the-go. Choose an app (Kindle, iBooks, etc.) and get a collection of ebooks going there. I like to tweet #bookdeals I find if you’re looking for a new one.
  4. Read non-fiction on your lunch break. I’m not very good at reading non-fiction in bed, so I save it for my daytime reading, which often ends up being my lunch break. I really like to take the time to reset myself for a productive afternoon by stepping away from my computer, so my lunch breaks are often used for exercising or reading (or both at the same time — hey, audiobooks!).
  5. Track, write, share, and take notes! Sure, reading is great on its own, but if you make the whole process a bit more interactive and form habits around it, you’re more likely to do it more often. Keep a list of the books you’ve read this year in your bullet journal or track them on Goodreads. Take notes as you read, or jot down your thoughts when you finish a book. Live tweet your thoughts about a book while reading it, or whip up a cute graphic with a quote from your current read for your Instagram (or #bookstagram, if you will).

No excuses. Start reading.

I’m up for chatting about your recent read anytime. 😉