Monday Motivation: Working from Home with Daniel Hall

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on November 2, 2020

Monday motivation, we need it, stat! We’ve all been listening the news and there hasn’t been that much to be thrilled about. But we have a special guest today, Daniel Hall, to get us motivated, Monday motivation style – with a twist. His experience and new project are more important than ever as we’re all working from home and gearing up to hibernate for the winter. His lessons learned give us cause for pause – and help – to get us through this.

Here’s a pick-me-up to launch your week on the right foot. Studies show that your morning mood affects your productivity all day. Grit Daily is here to get your work week off to a good start. Pump your fists – it’s time for Monday motivation!

Daniel Hall – Master Freelancer

Some of us have been working from home for well over a decade given our memberships in the tech community. For those of us that long ago added “WFH” into our lexicon, video conference calls are anything but new. Until recently, we were part of a small club who held onto cherished secrets like how to master the art of the unexpected video call – without having to step out of our fuzzy slippers. It’s been a long time that we’ve been privy to hacks like throwing a designer scarf or blazer over pajamas or a sweatshirt and transforming our appearance within seconds by leaving a pair of earrings and a tube of lipstick beside our laptop “just in case.”

Daniel Hall

Now? The world knows how to dial into a zoom call and how to hack looking great with clever upper torso versus bottom torso instant changeups. But there are still many secrets that the WFH Club hasn’t learned. Enter Daniel Hall, master freelancer, founder of Working Den, and author of the best-selling book, The Million Dollar Freelancer. His earnings and stellar reputation on UpWork (which I know personally, how hard it is to achieve as someone who is also part of the Top 1% Club of the 14 million freelancers registered on the platform — although my earnings pale in comparison!) afford him with enough credibility on their own, but then you see this, in print on his webpage:

Whilst I earned good money and outwardly appeared to be living ‘The Good Life’, this wasn’t quite the reality. The long hours took their toll and led to several cases of burnout, severe depression and, eventually, suicidal thoughts. What I learnt inspired several of the features in Working Den, and it’s my mission to continue finding new ways to make working from home a healthy experience.”

Daniel Hall, founder Working Den

Whoa. There was definitely more to the story here. So, as a follow-up to our previous Monday Motivation column on burnout, we asked some questions of Hall. He was gracious enough to share his time and insights for this article and the accompanying podcast which dives much deeper into the topics highlighted below.

GRIT DAILY: Tell our Monday motivation readers about the gestation of the Working Den. How did it all come about?

DANIEL HALL: Basically, I started making huge changes to my own life in 2019. I’d been doing it wrong ever since I started working from home back in 2012 and I just had enough in 2019. I either had to change things or my life wouldn’t have been worth living. I did lots of research and found great ways to improve the way I did things whilst working from home, so when the pandemic happened I knew lots of other people would end up with the same problems I did and I knew what I had learned could help them. I spoke to my neighbor, Bertie van Wyk, quite a bit over our respective fences during lockdown and he happens to be a ‘workplace expert’ who had spent lockdown teaching people how they should be working from home. So, I already had a lot of knowledge through my experience. And having sought out answers to the problems in 2019 through a lot of research, I had a lot of ‘expert backed’ knowledge and recommendations that I knew of, too.

GD: You have a lot of credibility given your track record; how did you ensure the credibility of the advice offered on Working Den?

DH: When I decided to start building such a site in early April, I sought Bertie’s advice as he had been teaching people how to work from home as a career. And I wanted every bit of advice to be science / expert backed, so I sought out experts for every feature that I launched the site with.

GD: Working Den can help so many people, including our Monday motivation readers. Why did you choose to enter the market offering it as a free service, supported only by advertising?

DH: I actually chose to enter the market as a paid service and had developed the site to be software. There was a whole process that people had to go through when using the software; there was a login, every person had their own dedicated area, etc. I launched the site, and it was a paid site for a week or so. And then I decided to make the site free. There were a few considerations for this:

1. With people struggling with the problems I did, I didn’t think it right I profit from people and put a barrier to use of the service at a time when people could benefit from it.

2. The site will be a lot more valuable if we build up a userbase now and monetize “additional extras” in the future. A big, happy userbase will be more receptive to any future features or services we offer if they know us and trust us.

GD: Your WFH Advice Song is so random: I love it! Shall we expect a video to go with it?

DH: The song was played on Ireland’s biggest radio station, RTE, last week but it didn’t receive much attention. If it starts receiving more attention, then I’d consider creating a video for it, but, at the moment, it’s not worth my time or expense creating a video for it.

GD: What’s the reaction been to Working Den? Is it what you expected?

DH: Well, so far, I’ve been approached by several companies asking to invest in the site (some through accelerators). A company messaged me wanting to white label the site and offer it to their clients “as their own” and charge them for it (which I obviously turned down) and I’ve had a few people add me on LinkedIn thanking me for creating the site. It has been well received. I didn’t expect people to message me about investment this early. It’s not something we are currently looking for, but it is flattering nonetheless, and it shows we have a good idea. The Slack Group is only 3 weeks old and has 580 members and a lot more engagement already than I would have expected by this stage.

Monday motivation tips to work from home

Since Daniel Hall is one of the leading authorities on the subject of working from home, we thought that the Monday motivation tips on how to successfully navigate WFH should be come directly from him and the experts behind Working Den. Given the high rate of burnout, the increased likelihood of impaired eyesight, chronic disease, repetitive strain injuries, stress and so on, these tips are the secrets that need to be shared with everyone.

#1 – regularly stretch your neck and spine throughout the day

We can get “locked up” frozen in position hour after hour at our desks. The act of sitting for so long is already problematic enough but it’s exacerbated if our desks and monitors aren’t properly set up. Let’s begin with doing these neck and spine stretches suggested here.

#2 – follow the Pomodoro timer method

The Pomodoro method typically recommends 20 minutes of concentrated effort, followed by a break of 2-3 minutes, but you can adjust your timing accordingly. Working Den suggests that you set a timer for 45 minutes. When the timer goes off, stretch for 5 minutes until you return to your desk for another 45-minute sprint.

#3 – let your stress out

WFH leaves us with few options when it comes to venting about whatever – or whomever – is stressing us out. Sure, we can gripe to our furry friends curled up beside us, but that’s not the bilateral engagement we need. Most of us vent to or take it out on our spouses – and that’s not a solution for a long-term relationship. So, the Working Den has a de-stressing solution which involves focused breathing, reflection and meditation.

Extra bits of Monday Motivation

If you like podcasts, well, wouldn’t you know, we’ve got those, too! Three of them, in fact: 1) Like a Boss with snappy insights; 2) wine down and chill; and 3) Monday motivation. All three are available on all streaming channels including Apple, iHeart Radio, Spotify and more. Tune in! Finally, if you like my writing, check out my new novel, The Battle for Humanity, it’s a thriller you won’t be able to put down.

Have a fabulous week and don’t forget to check out the Working Den for tips on health, wellness and productivity!

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Dr. Loralyn Mears is a Columnist at Grit Daily and a podcast host (The Grit Files, which aims to shine the spotlight on female founders). She is a content marketer, founder of the WORKtech startup, STEERus, specializing in personal and professional development to address gaps in soft skills - communication in particular. In her consultancy practice, she helps clients with content and strategy. Loralyn spent over a decade playing with mosquito DNA, got her PhD, decided she would rather market science than be at the bench and has never looked back. Along the way, she’s wined and dined her way around the globe. She's authored two books, including the 2018 Gold Medal Indie Book award-winning, One Sip At a Time: a Memoir and the hard science thriller, "The Battle for Humanity: How Science Saved Us." 

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