Establishing Healthy Boundaries as a Remote Worker with Ali Pruitt

Ali Pruitt is a consultant with the coaching approach who helps remote workers be more efficient and productive to achieve their work-life balance goals. She is also a seasoned remote work traveler with over 10 years of process and workflow improvement experience and four years of traveling the world as an employed and now self-employed remote worker. She has been working from Machu Picchu, the coast of Mexico, the healing island of Bali, the beaches of Jamaica and Fiji, and many others, all while constantly leveling up a remote work career.

Follow our guest on their social media:

Remote business entrepreneur

Luis:

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of the DistantJob Podcast, your podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. I am your host, Luis, and this is the day when my guest is a coach, a consultant with the coaching approach who helps remote workers be more efficient and productive so they can achieve their work-life balance goals. I am talking about Ali Pruitt.

Luis:

She is also a seasoned remote work traveler with over 10 years of process and workflow improvement experience, and four years of traveling the world as an employed and now self-employed remote worker. She has been working from the town of Machu Picchu, the coast of Mexico, the healing island of Bali, the beaches of Jamaica and Fiji and many others, all while constantly leveling up a remote work career. Ali, welcome to the show.

Ali:

Thanks so much for having me. I’m so glad to be here. Looking forward to our conversation.

Luis:

Yeah, me too. Did I get the intro right? Did I forget something? Do you want to add anything?

Ali:

No. I think you nailed it. You did quite well with that intro. Good job.

Luis:

Okay. Well, I appreciate it. I do try. Let’s talk about this remote work business that now most of the world was forced into just last year. Fortunately, it’s not the novelty for most people anymore. But I’ve been doing it for a long while before we were forced and you have as well. Why don’t you tell me, how has remote work shaped your career? Actually, tell me the story of how you started doing remote work and how it has shaped your career since then.

Ali:

Okay. Yeah. I can definitely tell you that story of how I became remote. I am from north Florida originally, so living along the beach there and just enjoying beach life and working the 9:00 to 5:00, the corporate job type of deal. Had the home, building I guess you could say the American dream. After a couple years of really just killing it for the company that I was working for, recognizing that I was just basically going on adrenaline and experiencing just full-on burnout.

Ali:

I got to a point where… It was actually in Malta, I was on a trip in Malta. It was like an escape getaway trip to refresh and regenerate. Yeah, on that trip, I had one of those big epiphany moments that my life wasn’t going to change, the externals aren’t going to change unless I did something drastic, did something. And so, I did, and I took a few months to figuring out what I wanted to do, but I decided that I wanted to move and leave everything that I knew there in beautiful north Florida and find a new home.

Ali:

But I didn’t want my career to dictate where I lived. I didn’t want the job to determine that. I thought, “Well, the most logical thing is to get a remote job.” I wanted it to be very easy to move around. So I decided I’m going to sell my house, sell off as much as I can of my possessions and then give away the rest. I did like that whole 180. Some people call it a midlife crisis, but it’s okay. I don’t hate them. Yeah. And so, I did all of that. I sold the house and everything, just really setting my life up for what I wanted, even though I didn’t have the remote job yet. That was what I was going after. Yeah.

Ali:

A few months after selling the house and just renting a room, still looking for the job, I did, I found the remote job. I told them though I only wanted to work part-time, a part-time contractor because I really needed some time to heal from the burnout. I mean, it was a lot. I learned two years later how much damage I’d actually caused myself internally by going on my stress and adrenaline for so long. That actually now plays a big part in what I do. So it’s definitely part of the journey for me.

Ali:

And so, I got the remote job, I’m working part time, and I’m looking for a new home. I do not like cold weather. I’m miserable. So living in Florida and acknowledging that I’m not much of a down south central Florida kind of girl, it felt like the only place I really had as an option was Texas. So I went to Texas-

Luis:

It’s warm.

Ali:

Yeah, it’s warm. There’s not a whole lot south of Florida in the US. Yeah. So I went to Texas. I went to Dallas and I said, “Okay, I’ll check out Dallas for a little bit. I had, also, during making those plans, I made plans to go to New Zealand. I’d always wanted to go to New Zealand, but I never wanted to just do like, “Oh, I have two weeks vacation.” I’m going to go halfway across the world and spend only two weeks there. So-

Luis:

Most people only spend one week, by the way. And-

Ali:

Right, right. Yeah, exactly. And so, I recognized that like, “Okay, wow. I could go to New Zealand for like two months and work from there. I’ll just go to Texas for a couple months, check it out, and then I’ll do my trip to Dallas, and then I’ll come back and I’ll settle into Dallas. Okay. And so, I decided to go to New Zealand. I went and I did a with Fiji. I ended up spending three months there and really enjoyed that lifestyle of just traveling around.

Ali:

I would travel around four days a week… Sorry, I would stay in an Airbnb four days a week and I would work. And then the other three days, the weekend, long weekend, I would travel around in a car that I rented, a station wagon. I would even sleep in the car sometimes and explore New Zealand. I thought, “Wow, this was really easy. That’s about the time that I learned what a digital nomad was. I was like, “Well, I guess I’m a digital nomad.” I came back to the states, reset, and then went to Bali from there. But working-

Luis:

All right. Well, let’s analyze this a little bit before we start because… You just talked about uprooting your life and selling your home without even having a remote job yet, as if it was nothing. So I want to dig a bit into that psychology before… Because I know that a lot of people listening to the show, most of the people listening to this show actually have remote jobs. But the decent chunk of them actually are listening to this show because they want to have. They’re looking to figure out how to make it work.

Luis:

What was your mindset? I mean, when you decided that that was no good, “I’m going to leave my current job and find a remote job,” did you prepare? Did you save for some time to have some living expenses aside while you looked for a new job? What did that look like because, I mean, obviously each person has their own risk aversion and risk tolerance. For example, I have never left a job without having something set up before. It just doesn’t click for me. But I also recognize that I’ve been fortunate to do that.

Luis:

I’ve taken pay cuts several times in my life in order to move to something that I wanted to do more. That’s happened. But I’ve never completely said, “Okay, not doing this anymore. Well, let’s see what I can find in the next month or so.” That never happens. What was your strategy? What was your uprooting-my-whole-life strategy before we continue?

Ali:

Yeah. I probably did downplay that whole phase right there a bit. I will say this. I didn’t quit my job before having a new job. I did sell my house and sell off what I could and gave away to charity what was left. So there was that aspect of just like, “Well, I’m just going to…” You know that saying, how do you say it? It’s, “Play the part that you want to be,” or something like that. Like if you want to be a boss, play the part of a boss. Whatever.

Ali:

I think that that was just a bit of, yeah, fake it till you make it. I think that played a part. The part that I downplayed though was… I mean, I did talk about the burnout, but it was extreme, like total exhaustion and desperation in my life, like, “Something needs to change now. There is no alternative.” And so, yeah, it just came down to just desperation, I think. So the strategy was, I don’t know where I want to live, but I know a remote job will give me the freedom to be able to choose where I want to live.

Ali:

So I’m going to design my life, start designing my life, in a way that… For this life that I want and just work really hard to get the remote job. Back then, it was much more difficult than it is now to find one. It was a connection. Luckily, it was one of those things where just things just fell into place, but it was probably a good eight or nine months of job hunting and really just continuing to stick it out at the job that I was in, that I was very, very much not happy in. That was a rough time. It wasn’t easy. But I was focused. I knew what I wanted and I was going after it. Yeah, so started redesigning my life. Got the remote job and took the jump.

Luis:

What changed in your approach to work because… You were burning out at your normal 9:00 to 5:00 job, let’s say non remote, co-located. Let’s call it co-located 9:00 to 5:00 job. What I found, especially now that we’ve had this huge experiment called COVID-19 where everyone who could work remotely essentially went to work remotely, what I find out is that people burn out actually easier working from home or working while traveling and et cetera.

Luis:

You’re talking about like remote work was the solution to my burnout problem. And it seems that for most people it’s actually the opposite. Myself, I’ve had a co-located job for something like nine years, almost a decade. I’ve burned out, during those nine years, I think I burned out once. When I was remotely, I’ve definitely burned out more times than that. It’s a work in progress. I like to think that today it’s less likely that it’s happened.

Luis:

But I found also that when you are more in charge of the time that you work, I have a tendency to overdo it. So I need to check myself. What difference does it make? How did going remote before you solve it for you instead of actually making it worse?

Ali:

Yeah. First, I’ll talk a little bit more about the job that I had because the dynamics there, it wasn’t a remote job, but it also wasn’t a 9:00 to 5:00. At that point in time in my life, I was very religious. And so, I actually worked at a church. I was the event coordinator and welcomed all the new people. I had to be very flexible with my schedule. Some days I was working events in the evenings, the weekends. I was all over the place.

Ali:

When you’re in ministry like that, people pull on you whenever they’re in need. So it really came down to a lack of boundaries because my work and my life were very integrated. All of my social aspect of my life were somehow still integrated with work. And so, in that regard, it is very similar to remote work where your work and life are integrated. It’s all in the same… It’s the lack of boundaries often that will cause the… It’s a big factor in burnout.

Ali:

When you have the 9:00 to 5:00 job, which is what a lot of people have experienced, they had more of the 9:00 to 5:00, they had the commute, and then they transitioned to remote work. When you have that commute, you have a boundary. You’ve been given a boundary. You don’t have to create a boundary. You don’t have to be good at creating boundaries.

Ali:

When you don’t have that, you realize you have to create boundaries, and just creating boundaries just to separate work and life isn’t all that easy when you are the one having to create it, because if you are struggling to create that boundary, you struggle to create boundaries in all aspects of your life. That’s a personal area of growth that you have to go through for you to actually be able to separate work and life.

Luis:

Yeah. That makes absolute sense. But still, I want to go back to the question. Did you find that this fell automatically into place once you started working remotely? Because I suspect not. Maybe I’m wrong, but…

Ali:

Yeah. No, I mean, it didn’t fall into place immediately. I do think that because I’d gotten to that point of exhaustion and desperation and coming to this company and saying, “I’m only working part time,” I started to learn how to create those boundaries for myself. I still had to learn to manage my time and everything. I think the fact that I had redesigned my life in a way that I really enjoyed was also a lot of motivation for me to get my shit done at work and leave and disconnect and go off and enjoy life.

Ali:

The company that I worked for is all about the future of work. They’re fully remote international company. So they also had good systems and processes in place which do make a huge difference. I felt connected to my team members all around the world, but I also felt safe to be able to disconnect and I felt safe to be able to communicate my boundaries. So that plays a big part in it as well.

Ali:

You can have poor management that plays a part in burnout, but also the individual does need to take responsibility and ownership for being able to set boundaries and being able to advocate for themselves and manage time. There’s a lot of remote work soft skills that need to be learned.

Luis:

Yeah. On a very basic level, because I know that this show, a lot of managers and leaders listen to this show, it’s the main audience, on a very basic level, at least the right to disconnect, just telling your employees that, “You know, you have your working hours, and after those, you don’t need, and in fact, you shouldn’t be connected.” Because I understand that sometimes someone at my company will want to send me an email at midnight, and I definitely don’t resent them for that. But it’s important for me to create the conditions where that email won’t be surfaced for me before I start my day on the other day.

Ali:

Absolutely, 100%, totally. Expectations are huge in this on both sides, clearly communicating them.

Luis:

Yeah. Tell me, then what… So you went to New Zealand. You were working remotely. But what was your virtual office strategy, let’s say? Because I just recorded the video today, where I talked about the top three things for digital nomads to have if they wanted to go digital nomad today. My picks were, number one, a Wi-Fi or a 5G dongle. So you have access to great internet wherever you are, so you don’t rely on third-party connections.

Luis:

Number two is a noise-canceling audio setup, so like the one I’m using right now that I don’t really need to use headphones because my microphone cancels any noise that doesn’t come directly from front of it. Then the third one was a calendar, which is important due to the reasons that we already talked about. But I’m curious, what was your setup when you first started on that journey? What did you bring with you that you felt was going to be the important thing that would allow you to do a good job? And how has that setup evolved over the years?

Ali:

Okay. Yeah, really great question because, over the years, I have learned a lot. In the beginning, I definitely took on the thought process of, “I’ll use my laptop and the charger for the laptop.” That was it. That’s what I took. I do actually have a bad neck from a car accident many years ago. I found out quickly that my posture working from bed with my laptop or working from a couch or wherever, I definitely started off like that, was not cutting it at all.

Ali:

For me, the most important thing that I take with me everywhere, even when I go to cafes and I always get questioned and asked, “Oh, what is that? Where did you get that?” Is my neck stand. It raises my laptop so that it’s eye level. Whether I’m at a standing desk or sitting down. Then, of course, an external keyboard and mouse pad. And, for me, a notepad that I use as my mouse pad.

Ali:

Yeah, all the rest of those that you mentioned are great things to have as well. The noise canceling headset was a must. I eventually ended up getting one of those as well. But yeah, definitely took me some time to learn all of that. Yeah.

Luis:

All right. Can you give me a timeline here? When was this happening, your trip to New Zealand, before you went back to the states? You were starting to tell me about Bali before I get you off. What was the timeline?

Ali:

This started in 2017. So Dallas was 2017. The end of 2017 was Fiji and New Zealand. So 2018 was Bali. Yeah. Okay. This is actually something that a lot of people don’t think through when they want to become a digital nomad or travel while working, or even as that is the goal and looking for a remote job. I went to Bali under the impression with leadership that I would be getting clients from Australia and New Zealand, like I had when I was in New Zealand, and that wasn’t happening.

Ali:

I was in New Zealand and I just kept getting clients… I was very client facing at that time. I just kept getting US-based clients. It’s like, “No, not great at all.” A 12-hour difference there. I would try to take a call like eight or nine o’clock at night or something. I’d try to do as much as possible between 8:00 and 12:00, but that didn’t work for all clients. So some clients needed to meet at like 2:00 AM my time, 3:00 AM my time.

Ali:

What I do, because I was determined to enjoy my days in Bali, I would sleep maybe an hour or two. I would get up, put my game face on, try to sort out, like, “What am I talking about with this client?” Get on the call with the client, do the call. Then wind down from the call, go back to sleep for like an hour, wake up, do it all over again for-

Luis:

That sounds super healthy.

Ali:

It was so not. Yeah. Yeah, I would go like three days and nights doing that and then I would just crash for an entire day. Then I would wake up so frustrated because like, “Well, I just wasted a day in Bali.” So I had to get to the point of making a really tough decision and recognizing that the remote job gave me this freedom and flexibility, and it’s just simply at this point in time not working in Bali. So I needed to leave. My seven-month tour of the APAC region turned into three weeks in Bali and I went back to the States to reset. Then Central and South America became the locations of choice.

Luis:

Well, definitely. Times zones do make mess of things, especially when you’re essentially serving one market but working on another market. Sometimes I have it tough with Portugal and Portugal is, at most, I believe, there’s a nine hour difference from the West Coast. I’ve interviewed people from Australia in this show, and it’s something like they’re having breakfast and I’m having a scotch.

Ali:

Yeah. It’s tough.

Luis:

It’s interesting. It’s interesting. But okay. Tell me the story when you realized that you had developed a good enough process. When did you realize that what you had developed for yourself was special enough that it was worth bringing to the world, that it was worth starting consulting with people about it? What was your light bulb moment for that?

Ali:

That was after COVID hit. After COVID hit, I lost my job. I was no longer a remote worker. I was one of the many, many people that lost their job. I was trying to sort out what I wanted to do next. I also had, while here in Mexico, because I lost my job while being here in Mexico, a month later, I also had a major surgery. I had two months to heal and two months to really take it easy and think about what I wanted.

Ali:

Of course, during the beginning of the pandemic, everybody was doing zoom to stay connected. And so was I. Connecting and reaching out to a lot of friends, talking through what was happening, what was going on in our lives and things like that. There were people that I was connecting with during that time that during my remote work, employment time, I had helped them either transition their small business to fully remote or I’d help them become a digital nomad, or I’d helped them to learn how to just be a hybrid, I guess, or semi digital nomad, pseudo digital nomad, where they travel parts of the year.

Ali:

Every one of those people that I helped came back to me during this time and said, “Ali, the whole world is going remote right now and they don’t know,” excuse my language, “what the fuck they’re doing.” Yeah.

Luis:

No problem. This is not the family-friendly show.

Ali:

Okay, good. I wasn’t sure. I’ve been trying to censor myself, “But they don’t know what they’re doing and you do. You kicked ass at work, doing the job of like two people in the company, and you’re also having these amazing adventures and going to all of these different countries. You’re kicking ass at life as well. You really should teach people how to do what you’re doing.” I was like, “Well, I guess, I’ve already been doing it to some degree, and sounds really awesome. Yeah, I could totally do this.”

Ali:

Because, yeah, over the years, I definitely learned how to balance work and life. It took a lot of trial and error. Again, with that company, they had a great culture that really helped with it. So yeah, that’s what I decided to do a year ago now.

Luis:

Can I pause you there for a second, because there’s a lot of questions that I’d like to ask.

Ali:

Okay.

Luis:

I guess, first of all, how much of your advice is… I don’t mean to be here. I’m honestly wondering because when people ask me how I manage to do what I do remotely, I attribute a lot of it to just, that’s it, to finding a job in a company with really good culture. In some sense, it does seem that that finding the right job is half the battle. Am I being unfair here?

Ali:

No, no, no. Yeah. The job, the culture, set me up for what I’m doing now. I mean, absolutely, 100%. The freedom and flexibility that comes with remote work has played such a huge part in my healing and me becoming my very best self. I’ve become very passionate about, and so, obviously, I’ve taken initiative to learn, read books, listen to podcasts, and learn from others as well, along with my own experience and helping people and learning from helping them.

Ali:

So it’s definitely become just a huge part of my life in general, learning from every possible way that I can. With that company, I was at a SaaS onboarding consultant. So I was onboarding them into a product that could help their company go remote. And so, I did that for hundreds and hundreds of clients, and that was just one piece of what it would take to transition a company to remote.

Luis:

I’m curious, when you were talking to those clients, what was the feeling? Where did the decision come from, to get remote, because that was pre COVID that you were working there. Was it most of the clients, I’m sure that you talked with them about their motivation to going remote, the why they were using the solution that you were selling, that you were presenting, what was the reason? Did they feel they would have a competitive advantage in hiring?

Luis:

Did they feel that was just the way they were moving? Were they doing it just because they thought it would be a really good thing to do for their employees? What were, let’s say, the top three reasons for companies going remote, companies that you worked with pre COVID?

Ali:

The companies I worked with pre COVID, their goal wasn’t necessarily to go remote. I mean, they were definitely moving into a SaaS product to just help their team work better, their teams work better. But there were companies that I did work with, that that was the goal. There weren’t many of them, because that was the nature of it pre COVID. People were very resistant to going fully remote. But there were companies that were hybrid, probably more hybrid and a few fully remote.

Ali:

There was one company, they were hybrid and they actually had little robots in the office. The head of the robot was a screen. Yeah, that was-

Luis:

Oh yeah. I’ve tried one of those. The overhead is quite big as well.

Ali:

Yeah. Yeah. They were definitely a company that were all about tech, and cool gadgets, and the future of work and things like that. So it was really cool working with them. For them, it was the competitive advantage and being ahead of the game and being the future of work. Well, there was a company in Australia that I worked with, Bean Ninja, Ninja Bean, something, and they were fully remote. The founder, she had embraced that lifestyle for herself and she wanted that for her team as well.

Ali:

She was a big surfer. She loved going surfing. She wanted to be able to do that during the day if she wanted to, as long as she was getting what she needed to done. For that company, it was the lifestyle, the work-life balance for them. So yeah.

Luis:

It’s completely understandable if you can’t talk about it, for NDA and other reasons. But I’m interested about… You speeded through the, “There was a pandemic going on. I was in Mexico and I was fired.” It seems to me that most people would have said-

Ali:

Well, let go. I was let go.

Luis:

Okay. Sorry. You were-

Ali:

Different than fired.

Luis:

Sorry. Yeah. Yeah. You’re right. There’s an important distinction there. I’m European, so the distinction isn’t so big here. But I understand that for the American listenership, which is most of the listenership, it’s not something that I’m sensitive to. But yes, the American listenership is, so thank you for correcting me.

Ali:

Yeah. You’re welcome.

Luis:

That’s a big cultural difference, yes. So you were let go. Most people in that situation, I mean, I have a lot of people asking me if I don’t feel that by having a remote job, by working with a company from another country, let’s say, if I don’t feel that I’m lacking in safety net, if I don’t feel that my life can turn into absolute chaos from one week to the next. Now, as a former dentist, I was actually… By trade, I’m a dental surgeon. I usually tell them, “Well, my life was always like that.”

Luis:

Things can take a turn for the worst very fast regardless of what your job is. But I really would like if you could and would care to share that experience. What was that like, being let go when you were in a foreign country, working remotely? For most people, they would feel that their options would be limited. And you had the surgery to look up to. What was that like? What was your mind game? What was your mental framework there, that let you go through that?

Ali:

Well, I will say, my mental thinking is completely different now than it was four years ago when I started working remotely. That’s because of the traveling and the experiences that I’ve had. I’m a different person. I think differently. So even adversity, I look at adversity differently. In that situation, yeah, my first initial thought when I had the call and they let me go, was like, “Fuck.” The crying and the emotions and all of that definitely was my first initial reaction.

Ali:

I processed what I was feeling, which is really important to do. And from there, I just took some time to sit with what was happening and what could happen. This was the first time I’d ever had this type of mindset, and this definitely comes from the healing and the growth that I’ve had over the last few years, is, “Okay, this is a shitty situation.” In my life, every time I’ve experienced and faced with a shitty situation, it’s shitty for whoever knows how long. And then at the end of it, on the other side of it, I ended up being very grateful for what had just happened because of the person that I’d become, the lessons that I’ve learned.

Ali:

Where I am even location-wise is all better, is all for the better. So I told myself, “You know what, I’m going to be really grateful right now for this shitty situation, instead of waiting for it to be over to be grateful.” That, just reframing it that way, was really helpful for me. I processed the negative emotions that I was having, but I didn’t sit in those negative emotions and those feelings. I looked more of it as like, “Okay, I’m grateful for where I’m going to be. So I might as well just go ahead and get there.”

Luis:

So then, what were the following steps? How did you regroup and recover, let’s say?

Ali:

Yeah. Like I said, support is always a thing. I encourage that and that’s why I do group coaching as well for the support. So support with the people that mattered the most in my life, with zoom. Then, again, just recognizing where I was. I’m in Mexico. I’ve just lost my job. It’s a really good thing I didn’t take that flight back to the US where everything costs a lot more. So my savings is going to last longer. I’m just going to stay here and hang out in Mexico a little bit longer until I can figure out what I’m doing.

Ali:

It was a good thing because, yeah, I lost my health insurance when I lost my job, and the surgery wasn’t an unexpected surgery. I found out I had two tumors inside of me dying. So semi-emergency as well. If I had been in the States, that would have bankrupted me, with having that surgery there. And so, I was able to take the money out of my savings here, and it was very doable for the whole thing, even a week in home healthcare afterwards, which I very much needed.

Ali:

That was just another moment of realizing I made the right decision. Trusting my gut has been something that I’ve really been working on the last year and a half. And so, that plays a big part in this, trusting your gut, making the decisions and following through on them. So it was just one thing after another. It just kept really like affirming that you’re on the right track. So I just kept sticking with it. And like I said, had this conversations with people who really encouraged me and started with the business.

Ali:

Now, yeah, helping people… I do definitely focus more on remote work soft skills and work-life balance, and there’s definitely a huge mindset piece to that. There is self care, self-worth, self-love actually ends up being a big part of what I do when I’m working with clients. So it’s very interesting how you start with helping them to be productive and efficient, and then you end up helping them just to love themselves more.

Luis:

It’s amazing what you’ve gone through, and obviously there were certainly hard times. I’m sure it was nothing even resembling easy. I mean, I can only imagine how most people would be devastated by a situation like that, considering that some people get devastated if their sushi is delivered with the rice cold. Right?

Ali:

Oh no, that’s me, okay? That will devastate…

Luis:

Yeah, certainly. That must have been really tough. I can’t imagine what you went through. So definitely mindset is such an important part of that. Then you started the consulting business, right?

Ali:

Yes.

Luis:

That’s quite a story.

Ali:

Yeah. So yeah, started the consulting business and we started off working one-on-one with individuals and now working more with teams, and businesses, and focusing more on the remote work soft skills and work-life balance. So again, the coaching piece to that. Got a group coaching course happening right now with a few individuals. Yeah, it’s really awesome because, again, I said it before, remote work, the freedom and flexibility of remote work made such a huge difference in my life.

Ali:

It really allowed me the time, freedom, and flexibility to focus on me and what I wanted in my life. I am the best version of myself that I could be at this point in time because of it. And to be able to help other people-

Luis:

Nice. Okay. As I mentioned before about the importance of the calendar, now you’re starting this new business. You want to take care of yourself, of course. Work-life balance is a very important part of that. I guess, let’s go over the basics. What does the calendar look like? What does your day look like? I hate the term lifestyle building, or lifestyle shaping, but how have you constructed your daily routine in order to achieve your personal and health-focused goals, while still building a business? Because even if it’s a one-person business, I’ve had several one-person businesses in my career, and it’s hard. It’s draining.

Ali:

I have been very intentional to continue to keep my work-life balance as much as possible. Obviously, it’s what I teach as well because I value it. I feel like I’m pretty proud of myself, which is also something that has taken time to be able to say, is I’m proud of myself for… I would say over the year, I’ve had about 90% of the time where I’ve been very proud of my work-life balance. There’s definitely moments where I’ve teetered on the… I could feel the energy levels, and the exhaustion, and the headaches, and the tension and all of that, and that’s like, “Okay, something’s not working. Time to adjust.”

Ali:

It’s a lot of trial and error to find what works and to find what I like to call a toolkit or a toolbox. My day is not planned out with like, “Okay, from this time to this time, I’m going to meditate, and from this time to this time, I’m going to journal,” and this and that. But I have a toolbox that I pull from each day based off of what I need. Self-awareness is huge in this, recognizing what you need and being able to get what you need.

Ali:

So starting my day off, really, the only way I can really start my day off well is if I end the day before well, and that means going to bed at the time that I need to. I think, “The early bird gets the worm,” is definitely over-glorified. There needs to be some sort of saying of like, “The successful person gets at least eight hours of sleep,” or something like that. I know my body. I know what I need. It’s not that, “Well, I’ve been doing this for so long, so my body’s used to four hours of sleep.” That’s not healthy and that’s not good.

Ali:

It’s eight to nine hours for me. Then I wake up in the morning and I do have a morning routine. I know that I need that for myself to start my day off well. I leave my phone outside of my bedroom. In the morning, I do my morning routine before I get on my phone, because if I start my day reacting to the phone, reacting to everybody pulling on me, that sets the tone for my entire day. My entire day is going to be reactive, and I don’t want to be reactive. I want to be proactive.

Ali:

I do use the method that I teach clients, the blueprinting your calendar. We blueprint your calendar for just the recurring events and tasks. We blueprint your calendar in a way so that you can act… In a poco a poco approach, I call it, little by little, to reach your goals. We set goals and we plan those out strategically so that every single day you’re making progress towards your goals and you’re evaluating that progress. So all of these things that I teach my clients, I do for my myself as well.

Ali:

Then evaluating and celebrating at the end of your day is huge, huge piece to this. The celebrating and really acknowledging and being grateful for the things that went well. Even when things don’t go well, and looking at them not as a failure, but as an opportunity to learn and for growth. That in itself is a reason to celebrate. That gives you motivation to keep going, for me anyway.

Luis:

So as not to mess up your work-life balance, I do want to be respectful of your time. I was just amazed at how time flew by during the conversation I have, with checking the time. Why don’t you say we move to some rapid fire questions. The questions are rapid fire, but the answers don’t need to be. So please expand as much as you’d like. You just talked about your morning routine, but I want to talk about the moment when you sit down at your laptop, you open your laptop, you open your browser. What tabs do you have open? What does your browser look up on wake-up?

Ali:

For me, the first thing that I do, I have a tool called Amazing Marvin that I use. It suits my work style. It took me a long time to find it. And so, I look at my day. I do know that every day the first thing that I start off with is LinkedIn though, because that’s where my clients come from. And so, that’s where I want to engage, and that’s where I want to spend my time. So that’s the first thing that I do.

Ali:

Then from there, I do a little bit of social media engagement on the other platforms. Then I refer back to my Amazing Marvin for what I have on the calendar for the day. So Amazing Marvin, LinkedIn. Of course, Instagram and Facebook play a part in it as well. There’s Contentstudio for social media. I use Airtable to manage the content. I use Evernote. Those are always open and Google suite. Yeah, those are the ones that… And Canva. Canva’s always open.

Luis:

All right. Obviously, you work with a lot of people that are doing remote work. If you had $100 to give them, to give each of them, a tool, a map, an experience, something, the only thing you can give them is the money or the money equivalent, so a gift card, et cetera. You need to give the same thing to all of them. What is the tool, app, experience that you would buy in bulk to give the people you work with? Up to $100, let’s say.

Ali:

Well, a neck stand. I mentioned that before. A neck stand is definitely on that list for a tool. And then, I would say, a calendar or a project task management tool of some sort. I can’t specifically say one because it does vary based off work needs, work habits, work flow. But definitely a task or project management tool, and a video, zoom or something, a video tool.

Luis:

No, sounds good. Those are all good answers. What about for yourself? What purchase has made your work life easier or more productive or more balanced in the past year?

Ali:

In the past year? I would say, I guess, Amazing Marvin. Yeah. I’m really happy with how it helps me. I do. I really do.

Luis:

Nice. Okay. What about books? Are you a book gifter? Do you like gifting books?

Ali:

The one most recently, over the last, I guess, two years that I’ve been recommending and gifting the most would be Jonice Webb’s book called Running On Empty. It’s actually all about childhood emotional neglect. Not necessarily the traumas that happen and we experience and how those affect us as adults, but what we didn’t get, the neglect. That plays a huge part in who we are and how we show up at work and in life as well. Amazing book.

Luis:

Yeah. I’ve never read it, but I’m almost sure that I’ve listened to a podcast interview with the author.

Ali:

Yeah.

Luis:

So yeah, because the name definitely rings a bell. Okay. Final question. This one has a bit of a longer setup. Let’s say that all of this COVID business is behind us and we can get together for dinners again, and you are organizing a dinner where in attendance will be the top CEOs, the top executives from the biggest tech companies in the world. The topic of the dinner, the topic of the night is Remote Work and the Future of Work. The twist is that you are doing so at the Chinese restaurant. As the host, you get to pick the message that comes inside the fortune cookie. What is your fortune cookie message?

Ali:

Oh my God. Let’s see. The fortune cookie message that everyone’s going to get the same, I guess? Okay. There’s a new SaaS, self-care as a strategy.

Luis:

Oh, nice. Nice. That’s catchy. That’s a really nice-

Ali:

Okay.

Luis:

… slogan. Congratulations. Good fortune cookie. All right. Well, Ali, it was an absolute pleasure that time flew by. I mean, good thing I didn’t have time that they needed to get done, because I definitely didn’t. An hour flew by while we were talking. It was definitely a huge pleasure. Now I’d like you to tell people, where can they continue the conversation? Where can they learn more about your consultancy, the services you provide, et cetera? Where can they find you?

Ali:

Yep. Like I said, I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. So Ali Pruitt. You can share the link, I’m assuming. So find me, Ali Pruitt, on LinkedIn. And then my website is fullyremotewithali.com.

Luis:

All right. That’s it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you so much for being here, Ali. It was an absolute pleasure.

Ali:

Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it.

Luis:

I’m glad. I’m glad. It was a pleasure having you. Ladies and gentlemen, this was a Luis with the DistantJob Podcast, your podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. My guest today was Ali Pruitt. Thank you so much and see you next week.

Luis:

And so, we close another episode of the DistantJob podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please, you can help us out by sharing it on social media. That would be great. It’s how we reach more listeners. And the more listeners we have, the more awesome guests I can get in touch and convince to participate in these conversations that are a joy to have for me and I hope they’re a joy for you to listen to as well. You can also help a lot leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice.

Luis:

Reviews are surprisingly helpful in helping the podcast get to more listeners. Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to distantjob.com/blog/podcast. Click on your favorite episode, any episode, really, and subscribe. By subscribing, you will get a notification whenever a new episode is up and whenever we get the transcripts of the episode up, so you can actually peruse the conversations in text form.

Luis:

Of course, if you need to find a great employee for your team, a great remote employee, you should take the whole world into consideration and not just look to hire locally, not just look to hire in your country. Look around the whole world because that’s the talent pool that contains the best talent. To help you with that, again, distantjob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who we need and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate 40% faster than the industry standard. With that, I bid you adios. See you next week on the next episode of DistantJob Podcast.

More ways to listen:

Tired of your 9 to 5 pm job? Feeling constantly burned out? Ready to punch your computer and storm out of the office? You’re not the only one. If you’re lucky, you have a job you love. But the reality is, most people don’t.  The remote work-life seems like a dream, a difficult dream to achieve until you decide to put yourself first and go for it, and that’s exactly what this podcast episode is all about.

Ali Pruitt shares how she quitted her job and sold her house to pursue the digital nomad lifestyle. She has lived in different countries and was able to follow the life of her dreams. However, not everything is rainbows and butterflies, and as most remote workers, she struggled with boundaries. During this inspiring episode, she shares more about her remote work journey and how she learned to establish healthy boundaries.

 

Highlights:

  • Digital nomad essential gear
  • How to set boundaries as a remote worker
  • Why are boundaries essential in a remote worker’s life?
  • Insights of quitting a full-time job to become a digital nomad
  • Her digital nomad journey
  • Why establishing process in your work structure is important

Book Recommendations:

 

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE so you won’t miss all of the other interesting episodes that we have coming up in the next few weeks!