Jess Bolluyt found early and consistent success as a remote writer at The Cheat Sheet, and has since moved to working remotely for KMM & Co. She shared her top remote work tips with us, along with some photos of the immaculate workspace she’s created in her Atlanta loft.
How many years have you worked remotely? 5.5 years
Where do you spend most of your remote work hours? Home office
Are you most productive in the morning or at night? Early bird
Mac or Windows? Mac
Coffee or tea? Tea (Lapsang souchong or Earl Grey any day!)
Jess’s home office setup and decor
What type of desk do you use?
I have an antique table that I use as a desk in a front corner of my apartment, which serves as my primary workspace. But I also sometimes use an antique jeweler’s bench in another part of the apartment as a standing desk, especially when I need to tune out the noise from our street!
What type of chair do you use while at work?
I’m usually in an upholstered mid-century shell chair. It’s a perfect compromise between aesthetics and ergonomics: It matches the Eames wire chairs at the table, but is comfortable to settle into when I need to sit and focus on a story.
What features do you like most about your home office or workspace?
I love the windows for all the light they let in. And for making it possible for me to fill the space up with plants! I love being surrounded by greenery even in a loft.
Do you share your workspace with anyone? Tell us about them!
My boyfriend isn’t home during the majority of my workday, but is responsible for the guitars and amps in my workspace. The only other member of our household is a cat named Margot, who occasionally wants my attention when I’m on a call but otherwise isn’t much of a distraction!
Remote work pros and cons: Jess’s take
What are the pros and cons of remote work for you?
I love that remote work means being part of a team that has things in common beyond (and more important than) their permanent address. Everyone has a perspective that’s influenced by where they live and work and travel, and working remotely makes that so easy to appreciate!
On the flip side, sharing a Slack workspace instead of a brick-and-mortar office means that I have to get more intentional about communicating (though maybe that’s also a benefit since it’s a useful reality check)! I’ve also found that staying cognizant of work-life balance can get challenging when my laptop is always available and my office is in my living room. Especially when I have projects and ideas that I’m excited about!
Working from home tips and tricks
What software technologies do you use on a regular basis that you’d recommend to others?
I wouldn’t be able to keep track of projects and ideas without a project management tool like Asana or Trello. I also use an iOS app called Agenda to take notes if I’m away from my computer, and Apple News definitely makes my life easier.
What habit allows you to be more productive in your day?
Zeroing in on a focus for the day makes it easier for me to stay as productive as possible. I plan my workload ahead to reduce decision fatigue and to make sure that I can hit the ground running and sustain momentum through the workday.
What are the top 3 items you can’t live without while working remotely? (If you have a brand you love, please name them!)
- Headphones! I have two options: the free earbuds that came with my iPhone, and a pair of Master & Dynamic headphones that typically come into play in the afternoon.
- Composition books! Everything happens online, so it’s rare that I *have* to do anything on paper. But handwriting notes makes it much easier for me to recall information. Plus, I keep my stack of composition books close at hand so I can refer back to them if I need to jog my memory!
- A hygrometer! Probably a weird must-have, but I bought a hygrometer (and a humidifier) for the benefit of my houseplants. And then I found that keeping the humidity in a plant-approved range has made the apartment a lot more comfortable for me, too.
Do you have any advice to first-time remote workers about working away from your normal location, or working from the road?
In my experience, sticking with what you know works is key to tuning out distractions. I try to keep my actual research and writing process as consistent as possible even if I’m working from somewhere other than home.
Answers have been lightly edited and links were added.
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