david stevens

relentlessly improving

Why I Work Remotely

2018-06-18 david stevensremote


Remote life is the dream.

When I first heard of remote work, I was green out of college, blowing every paycheck, squeezing independence out of adulthood like the lime on a midnight taco.

I imagined the possibilities of working remotely: the swanky lounge of a cruise ship, a hammock overlooking the Caribbean, the front porch of a Himalayan mountain cabin.

I’d become a digital nomad, capitalizing on favorable currency rates, meeting and becoming fast friends with strangers at a dive bar in Tokyo. I wouldn’t need a mortgage, student loans, and a lengthy commute to impress people I didn’t like.

What if I lived my dream, not the collapsing American one?

nomadlist.com credit: nomadlist.com

Quality of life is the reality.

Fast forward to now: I’m married, saving every paycheck, and squeezing the time out of every day like the lime on a homemade taco. I smile when I think of the possibility of family picnics, finishing my day out on the patio, and meeting for afternoon coffee and sushi with my best friends.

When I started working remote, the curious conversations began: some skeptical, some celebratory, some jealous. Despite a multitude of research challenging onsite office environments, most people dismissed the idea. My barber joked about watching Netflix all day, my doctor shook her head sadly that it’d never work with her schedule, and my family asked if I would ever shower again (that’s another story).

If you believe something’s impossible, you guarantee it always will be.

Creating reality isn’t easy.

Remote working isn’t without its challenges.

I can spend a few hours alone, especially with a book and a hammock.

I can spend a few days alone, like thru hiking 80 miles through the Georgia mountains.

I can’t spend a few months alone without organizing checklists, discovering new motivations, pushing the limits of my social engagement, and curating restful and healthy habits. I have to overcommunicate and document everything, in the most visible space available. I have to set personal and professional expectations, like core working hours and dedicated office space. I have to take midday walks to bounce out of a funk. I have to meet annually IRL with my coworkers to reinforce the important things.

Dreaming about remote work is easy. Making the impossible possible is hard.

remote workday

It’s also completely worth it.

Editor’s note: Jason Fried and David Hansson’s Remote is a must-read if you’re considering the remote life.


David Stevens is an engineering lead with two decades worth of mistakes, problem solving, and persistence to show for it. He loves finding ways to be more efficient, doing things with intensity, and sleeping outdoors whenever he can.