I’m writing to you from Los Angeles where the sun is shi…actually there’s basically a hurricane hitting us right now, haha.
We rented an apartment in Venice Beach and Chris and I have been working from here for the past two two weeks just because we wanted to see what winter in California was like. We also wanted to try working remotely and discover another part of the US, and, uh, okaaaaaay we sort of wanted to escape the winter depression I was telling you about the other day.
I had done this before when I started writing my book two years ago. I spent three weeks in West Hollywood, all alone. It was fantastic to get some distance. It barely mattered where I was, in fact, because I knew very few people here and my days were structured like sheet music: writing, exercise, writing, lunch, writing, walk, dinner. But even then, there was something in the California air that really inspired me.
This time, it was a bit different. We left without any real “professional reasons” other than work meetings and professional dinners. My team and I arranged to Skype regularly. I trained myself to start working at 7am so I won’t be too out of sync with the East coast, so I can connect with everyone, have time for everyone and stick scrupulously to my to-do list.
Despite all that, it made me feel extremely guilty.
Partly it’s the idea of not being physically present for my team. And also because I love them and miss them. But most of all, I felt like I was doing something that wasn’t allowed. It’s incredible how life can turn into a series of obligations you think you can never escape from. Even so…
The world has changed, work has been completely revolutionized. A lot of people work from home, a lot of teams work in offices that are physically remote from each other (the new video conferencing systems are crazy good!) — so it’s possible, it’s definitely the future — well, it’s the present actually, if you just decide to go for it.
Of course, not everyone has that option, and not everyone even wants that.
But more and more, it will be possible, negotiable, and feasible for everyone.
So, I felt like trying it out for myself.
The first week was exhausting. So many things to do, the calm after the marvelous storm that was my book, millions of late emails to send, millions of projects to get started, lots of work, plus jet lag, and this new work arrangement…
But the second week was a revelation. Suddenly free of the frantic New York life, it was like I was getting hours of my day back. Suddenly far from the beating heart of the city, it was like I could finally see clearly. Flung far from the person I am in New York, always busy, tired, and feeling bad about not being able to do more and be more, I felt like I got to take a deep breath.
My rhythm has slowly fallen into place, even though I’m still making some adjustments. And around 3pm here, it’s 6pm in New York, when people are heading to bars or yoga classes or dinner, so in LA, I have time to sit down and reflect. Do research, write, draw in peace.
Meeting creative people from here, changing perspective, being able to present different topics to you, it’s very important to me — it’s so easy to become totally centered on one city, one industry, one space and time, and one way of seeing things. I’m realizing how focused I am on New York sometimes.
Working remotely is one way, and an interesting one, to revitalize yourself and get perspective. It’s totally different from going on vacation and disconnecting. Here, I’m super connected, just with a different energy. It doesn’t even matter what the destination is, really. What’s important is breaking old habits and questioning your own way of doing things.
But even so, habits form really fast. I know if I stayed here, my life would take shape and I’d soon feel just as submerged as I do in New York (even though I do think few cities submerge you as much as New York) — I’m even starting to want to go back because I really miss the Studio and my friends.
But I’m happy I allowed myself to do this.
What about you? Have you ever thought about working differently?