Please introduce yourself briefly to our community.
Hi, my name is Yolixtly Anderson. I am a Mexican software engineer living in Orlando Florida and traveling around the world. As I write this blog post, I am on my way to Osaka Japan, where I will be exploring while working part time on my freelance projects for 3 amazing weeks!
What are your main reasons for joining Remote Workers?
I’ve been a world travel ever since 2013. I’ve visited 14 countries and live in 4: China, India, Mexico and the US. I am what people call a digital nomad. Many of us, choose this path but in my personal case, this nomad life choose me.
When, how and why did you start working remotely?
Two years after I moved to the US in 2014, I switched careers to programming because as a wife of a nomad (literally!), I needed the flexibility to pack and go without missing out the opportunity to have professional growth and a good income.
My first year in the tech industry, I worked for a startup company based in Harrisburg PA. I started working as a full time on site engineer (the first woman engineer in the team). My first experiences working remotely, where the mandatory “work from home” snowy days.
A year passed by, and my husband got a new job, but it was all the way down in Florida. It was time to make my move and requested to become a remote engineer. My boss said yes and I worked for them in a remote bases for about 6 months.
After working for a short time as a contractor for Universal Studios Orlando, I got my first gig thanks to networking. This was the start of a new chapter in my career and the reason why I learned to code: Freelancing full time!
Where do you usually work from?
Learning my way into this remote lifestyle, has not been a straight path and mainly has been because of the lack of human contact. Initially it was a struggle and an emotional drag.
For a minute, I thought remote was not my thing. But yet again new amazing opportunities kept presenting (programming skills are in huge demand), I decided to capitalize from my first experience, focusing on the opportunities that challenges really bring along.
That being said, I mostly work from home, where I have a designated space exclusive for work. Since I love exploring new places in the city, I frequently go to new coffee shops which has contribute to truthfully enjoy my remote lifestyle. Not only I meet and see new people everyday but from time to time I find prospect clients! (So far I have not concrete a client in this manner but the point is practicing networking everywhere I go).
Do you also travel while working remotely? What are your favourite cities?
The short answer is yes, the reality is I am just starting to really experience that “work from anywhere” perk of my remote life. Orlando is vacation land yes I love to explore this city. Right now I am on my way to Osaka Japan, and later this year I will be in Beijing!
In your opinion, what are the biggest benefits & biggest challenges of working remotely?
In my personal experience, the lack of human contact has been the biggest challenge. Recently, I read the “4 hour work week” book by Timothy Ferris, and a funny big truth was mentioned: “People stay in their onsite jobs (that may not even enjoy) because of the people they work with.”
Like I mentioned before, It is an everyday choice what we do with these challenges, see the true opportunities that they bring or struggle.
The biggest benefit is: Freedom. Once you go remote, you get to choose from where and when to work. It must certainly not compromise deliverables nor quality but learning our own tricks and finding our routine is what makes this remote journey so magical.
Saving time not commuting, is also a big benefit. The challenge is deciding what to do with those extra 10h a week: sleep more, go to the gym, learn something new. Overall, all positive options!
Are there any tools do you use on daily basis?
Yes, since I work in hourly basis, Freshbooks is the best software I’ve tried so far to accurately track my work. And the benefits of time tracking are multiple, from accurate billing hours for you and your client, to increased productivity. The user experience both desktop and mobile is incredible and well synchronized.
As a software engineer, I also practice the Agile methodology for which I use Asana, Jira software along with Trello Boards.
When working remotely you have to be in charge of your day and honor the hours you said you will be working, Google calendar is my solution!
How do you stay motivated and focused during the day?
Using the tools above are the big players when it comes to focus time! Usually I set blocks of time for about 1.5 to 2.5h at a time and always have a 30 min break in between.
This strategy, also helps me his helps me staying motivated by focusing on the immediate next task to complete. My break is my reward!
How do you make sure you switch off from work?
Google Calendar. Honoring my starting and my end chunks of work has been of great help! This however, is a work in progress but I am already seeing the results of this trick.
What advice would you give remote beginners that are planning & looking how to start working remotely?
Make sure you are emotionally prepared for it. Remote lifestyle is the new thing, but with it a huge sense of personal and professional responsibility comes along. No one is watching you, you need to motivate yourself.
My advice is to identify what possible case scenarios could derail you in a given day or by the end of the week when your motivation starts to wear off.. And prepare in advance.
For example: If you know that by Fridays you are tired and may not make up your 8h, then make them up in advance.
Has your remote job impacted your life outside of work?
Absolutely! 2 years into the field, I am living my dream life!
I am exercising more these days, I have more time to cook at home which saves a lot of money. My expenses in general have gone down, I do not have to pay gasoline or parking, nor expensive and unhealthy lunches!
But most importantly, I get to be with my family and with my husband, whom are my priority! Last year for example, I went to Mexico and Albuquerque twice each, to visit family. Right now I am on my way to Japan to meet with my husband who is working there for 5 weeks.
How do you cope with feeling lonely while working remotely?
Believe it or not, social Media! I have found a community of like minded people, and through it, I do frequent #virtualCoffees to talk about industry related topics.
Meetups, I attend a lot of meetups in town and always looking to find more remote workers so we can work together on a given day (yet to happen!)
Take advantage of working remotely and go out and explore!
Would you ever consider returning to a traditional job?
I would not mind but it must be a great cultural environment. However, as I said earlier this nomad life has chosen me, so instead I am looking forward to get my next gig and pursue a freelance solid career!