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The Water Cooler segment: Two Questions to Optimize Your Worklife

Updated: Dec 22, 2022

Last week, I had a podcast interview with Karen Mangia, fellow author, remote work thinker, and endorser of our upcoming book, Remote Works.

Toward the end, she introduced a fun "Water Cooler" segment where she asked rapid-fire, quirky questions. My favorites:

  1. What would you do with the extra hour in a day?

  2. If you could have any other profession, what would it be?

My answers were easy: When I have extra time, I want to nap or read a book. And mini-Tamara wanted to be an artist-lifeguard.

But the thing I adore about these questions is that we may make them a reality by entering a "Remote State of Mind."


What’s a "Remote State of Mind"? It differs for everyone, but it ultimately comes down to a few things:

  1. Conducting your job remotely (duh!)

  2. Automating your workflows and processes

  3. Using technology to make work accessible anywhere

  4. Challenging the status quo

  5. Asking questions

Once you adopt this "Remote State of Mind" mindset, you'll start to see the world differently. You'll find that stopping and shifting work activities is just as important as starting them, and there are better ways of getting things done. You'll let go of old work, mental models, and projects to make room for new work and challenges. As a result, your calendar will clear up, and that extra hour of time will no longer be a hypothetical question but a reality.


The Roman philosopher Seneca said in a letter to Paulinus:

It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing.So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What's one thing you can stop or shift this week to free up an hour in your calendar?

  2. How can you use that extra hour to tap into some of your childhood dreams as an adult?

  3. What other ways can you adopt a "Remote State of Mind"?

(Photos of children at play from Unsplash.)

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