Working from home isn't for everybody, but given the current situation, a lot of people have been forced to adapt.
For Filipino DJ, music producer, and Halik Ni Gringo vocalist Joey Santos, working from home has been his normal for years. After running his own recording studio for more than a decade, Santos converted his garage at home into a working space, where he spends his days writings, filming, and editing content for Digital DJ Tips, the biggest DJ and production school online. And it's been good for him. The massive Carly Rae Jepsen fan gets things done and even checks in time with his pets and practices a "digital Sabbath."
Bandwagon caught up with Joey Santos for the first edition of our new Work From Home series to talk about his daily routine, what it takes to stay focused, and how his pets help with his work.
Tell us a bit of your backstory from before you started working from home and how you ended up doing what you do now.
I’m a DJ and music producer. I also teach people how to DJ and make music through our site and YouTube channel called Digital DJ Tips. My work involves a lot of writing, filming, and editing, all of which I do from a garage I turned into a workspace. I used to run a recording studio called Love One Another for over a decade. Now I also do all my producing from home, so my garage is a mix of a recording studio and film space.
What's your daily routine like?
I wake up at 8 a.m., exercise, grab coffee, and read until around 11 a.m. I then work until 8 p.m.
What are your rules for work?
I’m a recovering alcoholic. One of the things I learned was when you stop drinking, you fill that void with something else. For me, it was work—so I became a workaholic haha. This was exacerbated by the nature of the work I do: there are 14-hour days that turn into weeks which turn into months to meet deadlines. I burned out so often that I felt like it was part of the natural cycle of my job. My bosses were kind enough to adjust my work schedule.
My rules are no work on weekends, and to stick to a nine-hour workday as much as possible. I tried doing a "digital Sabbath" where I don’t check my phone on Sundays, but I’ve relapsed during the lockdown…hope to get back to it after.
What do you listen to while you're working?
Instrumental music, which depends on my mood and the type of work I’m doing. Most of the time it’s the usual classical stuff like Bach, or swing jazz like John Coltrane or Dave Brubeck. I also listen to a lot of ambient electronic, which has been my current fascination. All my favourites are in here:
How does music affect your productivity?
It doesn’t directly affect my productivity, but it really affects my mood. I’m able to get into a better emotional and mental state when I’ve got the right music going, so even if I don’t feel like working, it makes it easier for me to get into the mood to work.
Since working from home can be extremely distracting—video games, TV, books, food, and all—how do you keep yourself focused on the task at hand?
I leave my phone and Nintendo Switch in my bag. It also helps that I haven’t bought Animal Crossing (yet!).
Do your pets help or inspire you to work, or is it the total opposite?
They help a lot because when they need attention, it means I’ve got to get up from my desk and get away from a screen! Hanging out with them makes me smile.
Also since your working space is also your living space, how do you manage to relax and not feel guilty that you aren't working?
I try to have boundaries by separating my work space from living space: for example, I don’t work from bed or check email or Basecamp and Slack. I think having physical and mental boundaries are the biggest thing that’s helped me transition to working from home. I get guilty about not working just because there’s so much stuff to do every single day, and my girlfriend helps remind me that there is more to life than work.
Do you have any advice for work from home creatives, especially with the given situation today?
It’s okay to not be as productive right now. We’re all going through a painful transition in many different ways, so give yourself time to adapt. As much as we want things to go back to normal, it just won't be the same anymore. This is difficult to accept, but this is the reality that we’ve got to face.
We all stand to lose loved ones, dreams, and our way of life, but we have to hold on and hope because future generations are relying on humanity today.