How 5 Years of Remote Writing Helped Me Stay Sane 100

How 5 Years of Remote Writing Helped Me Stay Sane

This article was written by Lesley Vos, a private teacher, freelance writer, and regular contributor to publications on lifestyle, business, and self-development.

I do remember October 3, 2012. It was the day when I had died.

It’s not a joke but the ugly truth of life cropping up along the way of most freelance writers like me.

That month heralded three years since I had started to work remotely. Sure, it was my choice to go freelance. First, I was in university and had no opportunity to best balance school and work. Later, I had en euphoria from a chance to be in charge of my time. Finally, the moment had come when I couldn’t stand that pace of life anymore.

It destroyed me. I looked in the mirror, and the only thought came to the mind: “What have you done to yourself?”

I underrated my opponent, which name was freelance work.

Poor time management, procrastination, emotional burnout, a lot of stress, constant frustration, lashing out at relatives and friends, high-functioning depression. This is a short list of symptoms I had got after three years of remote work in 2012. It was nobody’s but my fault as I couldn’t control and organize myself the right way for such life.

And it was the moment when my five years of returning to sane self-started. That wasn’t easy but, as Sinatra sang, I did it my way. Today, I continue freelancing as a web writer for brands like, do ghostwriting for columnists of HuffPost, Entrepreneur, and Inc., teach the French language to high school students (I  have major in Linguistics), and write a fiction book.

Celebrating the fifth anniversary of my rebirth this year, I draw a line under all positive changes happened to me and share them with those in search of work-life balance on a way to better selves.

Five years of remote writing taught me the essentials many ignore.

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In particular:

1. You don’t need time management to keep up-to-date with everything.

You need to prioritize instead.

My big mistake was a living by time. A night owl, I forced myself to write on mornings because someone somewhere said it was the best time for brainstorming and productivity. I tried Tomato Timer to manage working hours and Trello – to plan projects and control every minute of my day.

The problem is, you can’t plan everything.

For positive changes, I had to stop strict scheduling and start prioritizing tasks. It wasn’t easy to stand the thought of crossing out Facebook hours on evenings. As soon as I understood it was my productivity peak, I gave up social media for better work.

Another challenge I faced was taking time off.

I was sure that the more time I spent at the computer, the more tasks I would compete. Often I forgot or simply ignored dinners, making do with coffee and snacks. Needless to say, it ended with health problems. So I had to take medicines or spend time and money on doctors, which did no good for productive work, happy life, and peaceful self.

No matter what you do for a living, health should be your #1 priority. No one will need your productivity if you literally kill yourself to reach it.

2. Don’t do work and relaxation at the same place,

When working from home, I couldn’t resist the temptation of spending all the time in my bed. I wrote there, I ate there, I watched movies there, and I slept there. What can I say?

Never do that, even if you have a one-room apartment! Design a business area in it and work at the table rather than with a laptop on your knees.

That’s a psychological trick: when working and taking some rest at one place, none of them works out! In result, you’ll have a feeling that you work 24/7. Which, eventually, leads to fatigue and exhaustion.

What I did was separating my room into two zones.

One is for computer work: I have a comfortable office chair there, a table with all-in-one PC as well as a lamp and home plants on it. I spend the main part of my working day there.

Another zone is for relaxation and inspiration: this is my sofa where I can take a break from work, read a book, call to my mom, have a cup of coffee, or just meditate a bit.

3. Don’t be afraid of procrastination. Use it to your benefit instead.

What took the most energy from me was the attempts to deal with procrastination. I knew it was bad – countless blogs and infographics on how to beat this monster said that at least – but none of the tricks worked for me.

Unless I’ve made friends with my procrastination.

And you know what? It made me less stressed and more focused.

I followed the method of “incubation process” by Joseph Sugarman suggesting to think of a problem, postpone it, do something pleasant instead, and then go back to that problem with the best solution. Nothing strange here, as the most creative ideas are scientifically proven to come after procrastination.

Procrastination also improved my skills.

After writing long papers, I wasn’t in a hurry to proofread and edit them at once. It appeared that such procrastination provided me with a fresh look at my writings and allowed to see their flaws and strengths. Thanks to procrastination, I gave up the idea of multitasking that made me less productive and blocked my creativity.

The lesson learned? Everything is fine when it does a power of good. No need to force yourself, blocking your positive energy and killing your backbone.

4. Spend more time outside.

Among the biggest challenges for remote workers – unless they are travelers – is… leaving the house.

Sounds funny, but if you don’t have to go out when it’s a rainy November day outside – the only consistent decision seems to stay in bed under a cozy blanket and not leave it until the next summer.

So did I, and it was my one-way ticket to major issues with health. Since 2012, I’ve made it a habit to go out regularly, even if I have to work. What I do is go to co-workings or coffee shops and write articles from there.

5. Never work on weekends.

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Sure thing, you might be passionate about your work, especially if it’s your personal project; but at least one day off a week is a must-have.

I had to say no to all those “I just quickly flip through the chat” or “I’ll be in the mail for a second”. Because those seconds turned into hours, made me think of work again, and eventually led to burnouts and nervous breakdowns.

It’s great when you get new ideas on a regular basis; but if they interfere with sleeping and spending time with close people, there will be no meaning in life other than work, tension, and fatigue.

All this comes with experience but, as they say, forewarned is forearmed.

I know people who couldn’t deal with freelance because they didn’t know how to organize the process. So they quit, got nervous, and recovered for a long time.

To feel the advantages of a remote job, you first need to make friends with it. Like I’ve done after five years of fighting for positive changes. Today I am happy I was able to recognize that point of no return, killing me in 2012.

Do you believe that a destroyed person can do that? What points of no return, if any, did you or your closed ones experience and defeat?

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One Guy’s Journey from a Work-at-Home Transcriptionist to Starting an Educational Institute 5

One Guy's Journey from a Work-at-Home Transcriptionist to Starting an Educational Institute

This is an interview-style post with Mahesh Kumar.

Hey Mahesh. What do you do?

I’m the Spokesperson of the Transcription Certification Institute, an Ellensburg-WA based educational institution that provides an in-depth online transcription training and certification course.

The online course, which is created by industry leaders, enables transcriptionists to gain a well-rounded understanding of the field and become a professional transcriptionist for better job prospects and higher wages.

How did you start your career?

I’ve started my career as a home-based transcriptionist and have experience of 8+ years in transcription industry. I’m currently on a mission to help work from home moms and make them aware of one of the straightforward and lucrative way of earning money from home, i.e., transcription.

I love writing and so I regularly share my words through my blog. At present, I am working as the spokesperson of Transcription Certification Institute.

What inspired your journey?

I was not cut out for regular jobs because of health and family issues. But, I wanted to earn decent money.

Most work from jobs required me to be online during fixed hours. That did not work for me.

A friend referred me to a copywriter who needed transcription services in an extended time frame. This was my first assignment and exposure to the industry. I had issues with grammar and lots of difficulty in understanding accents. My transcriptionist friend gave me the very first lesson in punctuation. It was a great lesson.

That was the aha moment!

I wanted to share it online with all other new transcriptionists. My expertise in transcription was still limited but my interaction with other transcriptionists. And other work from home professionals found that there was no organized information in this industry.

That’s when with the help of the team we created an ebook as would serve as a handbook to transcriptionists. It was called Everything You Need To Know About Work From Home: General Transcription Business Opportunities.’ It’s available on our website for free.

What is the transcription business about?

It’s a dream that allows parents, caregivers and those with disabilities to stay at home and earn.

We call ourselves Team TCI. None of us has complete skills but together we have made a dream into a business that is sustainable, profitable and manages to help others earn more.

We like to think of ourselves as not just one single successful business owner but a team of accomplished transcriptionists and hedonists who have come together to share their expertise on a platform that is globally accessible to all.

Our objective is to make you a better transcriber so that you can earn more at the same time. 

Through our internship program, we ensure that new wannabe transcribers get a foothold in the industry. Our job board aims to bring transcribers and employers together on one platform to make hiring and finding jobs easier.

We are 9+ years old but the journey has only just begun.

What were your biggest challenges when setting up the institute?

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Together, we had 2,459 dollars to spare!  This was just enough to put up a website and host it for a year.

We had no budget, no marketing plan and no strategy.

More than money we invested our skills, time and above all intent. When we launched, making money was not the objective. The objective was to share information, educate and in the process recover the costs.

We were totally bootstrapped. In fact, we all transcribed extra hours to generate money.

Each year we invested the money earned in the course, it’s upgrade, website upgrade and more. All exams are manually graded and that is expensive.

What do you offer on the website and who can benefit from it?

We offer a course in general transcription.

Our course is for anyone who wants to work from the comfort of their home, enjoy flexible timings and the ability to choose workload. The course is very popular with parents of young children who want to be around when they grow up, ex-serviceman with disabilities, single moms and others who want to work from home.

Some would say that there is nothing to be learned in general transcription but that would not be true. I did start out without training and if it not had been for the help I received my career would not have been successful.

In fact, as the popularity of transcription as a career option grows getting a foothold in the industry is becoming tough. That is why we came up with an internship program that gives hand on experience to new transcriptionists and exposure to the industry.

The job board benefits them by bringing employers and transcriptionists on the same platform.

What’s one thing you do to unwind?

We were introduced to meditation a few years back and to unwind we like to meditate.

What’s your favorite book?

It keeps on changing but time and again for inspiration, I find myself reaching out to The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. Never stop dreaming! Give context to your dreams!

Check out the story of how one guy went from a work at home transcriptionist to setting up a transcription institute and help others start working from home.