I spent most of this year quarantined in Los Angeles, sitting at the dinner table with my cat and Zooming with friends over cocktails and societal outrage for five whole months. I’ve taken COVID pretty seriously, seeing friends only for the occasional masked hike or social distanced hang. During those five months, I sanitized everything, avoided crowds, performed witchy rituals and offered sacrifices to the gods — y’know, everything the CDC has recommended.
But as a freelance writer who ghostwrites memoirs, I spend a lot of time in front of my computer writing and meeting with clients.
As August dragged on, my friend Kyle Cords and I got to the end of a marathon phone call and were like — what if we found people who wanted to quarantine together somewhere beautiful? And we could live and work somewhere outside of LA while we don’t have to be tied here?
So Kyle gave up his apartment, we roped in a group of friends, and we all got tested and escaped to the mountains, running away from fires and plagues.
Working Remotely in Winter Park, Colorado During COVID-19
Winter park in September was an absolute dream. When we arrived, everything around our cabin was green, and then throughout the month the leaves slowly changed.
Right when we arrived, Los Angeles also was literally on fire: between the protests, the forest fire, the heatwave, and the pandemic, the city was apocalyptic. That made us appreciate Colorado even more — and then it started snowing.
I would sit by this chair by the window, watching the snow softly fall in September as I wrote and worked on my projects and sorted through all the things on my plate.
Every morning I’d either sit by that window or outside on the deck, drinking locally-roasted coffee and zooming with clients and collaborators, sharing the incredible views with them.
I made a huge dent in my attempts to read 100 books this year (I’m in the 30’s now, so I’ve still got aways to go) and found some stillness that was much-needed.
After my morning deep work session, I’d do some yoga on the front porch, catch up with my housemates and make some breakfast, and make a gameplan for the rest of the day.
Then, I’d take my afternoon meetings and calls. When those were done, we would go for an afternoon hike, either together or on our own. Those hikes were a great mental break and a way to process my day and where I was at/what we wanted to accomplish next. There’s something about being in nature that helps to put things in order.
During my workdays, I deal with complex projects that require a lot of my creative energy and focus. I also have a lot of logistics to sort through and figure out on my own, and to be able to go out and hike for six miles helped me deal with stress and creative problems as they came up.
A lot of the work I do isn’t easy. In my freelance work, I need to think creatively and logistically about how to bring a manuscript to life and honor the stories I’m telling. In my businesses, I need to manage teams and uphold the highest standards of creative quality, and act quickly when something isn’t working.
There’s a lot of noise, and being in Colorado was a fascinating exercise in getting completely away from the stimulus of the city and being in such quiet and breathtaking nature.
Being able to work remotely means I also get to take inspiration from my surrounding environment. As writers, the concept of inspiration by osmosis is very real. The expansiveness and beauty of environment can bleed over into our work.
I’ve also realized how important it is to deal with mental clutter and be wary of things that are affecting my energy levels. Time and energy are precious resources, and if we want to accomplish everything we can in life and still have balance, we need to protect those resources.
During this trip I was also reminded how much I value community and how important it is to surround yourself with amazing people.
After a month of gorgeous views and a lot of discovery in Colorado, we headed to…
Working Remotely in Palm Desert, CA During COVID-19
…Palm Desert! This next stop in our quarantine roadtrip, and we spent a month working beside the pool and creating a Hard Tea & Seltzer Bracket and putting all the seltzers we could find at the grocery store to the test.
I followed pretty much the same work routine as Colorado, spending my mornings diving into the deep work I needed to do for the day, and the afternoons doing meetings and administrative work.
To be safe, we asked our houseguests and friends and fellow remote workers to get tested for COVID and quarantine in a more strict way before joining us in Palm Desert. Because we’re in a global pandemic, there’s still a risk of things going wrong, but it’s a risk we were okay taking. The key is to make sure you’re quarantining with friends who are responsible and minimizing risk.
While we didn’t have hikes right outside our door, we did have some pretty incredible desert hikes to the badlands and waterfalls. There was one six-mile hike with some bouldering and canyons that was breathtaking, we did that just as the sun was setting over the desert landscape.
When I wasn’t working, hiking, or trying out seltzers with friends, we were cooking incredible family-style plant-based dinners. We went on a whole Vegan spree as some of our housemates were vegan, and I don’t think I’ve had a better month of food in my life.
After so many months of being isolated in LA, I realized how much I missed being in the company of other people I love. I’m so grateful for being able to carve out two months of normalcy in a year of insanity.
The Future of Remote Work in the Pandemic and Beyond
The reason why I love working remotely is that I believe we do our best work in the company of great people and surrounded by inspiring environments.
I’ve been working remotely on-and-off pretty much since I graduated, and I love being able to take my laptop on the road and let travel and osmosis do the heavy lifting in the creative process of finding inspiration.
As the pandemic continues, if you’re able to give up your overpriced LA apartment and instead use that money to travel, I would highly recommend it. We’re in an incredibly unique period of time where we don’t have to be tethered to the city, and it’s a great time to test-run remote work.
Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on how to work remotely in 2021!
Be safe and well,