Our first guest on the Yes, I Work From Home Podcast is Ryan Langr, from Austin, Minnesota. Ryan's held a few various positions over the years but has transitioned more recently from being a stay-at-home to a work-from-home dad in the past 2.5 years. Ryan had been blogging for about 15 years, but two years ago, he managed to take his writing skills and combine them with a creative hobby which turned into a work-from-home endeavor. He started his own table top game design publishing company that has grown to the point where he is now managing a team of about 15 freelancers and independent contractors. He is also starting online schooling with his 5-year-old daughter this year and is simultaneously looking forward to even more chances to grow his business and his skills.
In our interview, we talk about balancing deadlines with time flexibility, working while also managing household and parental duties, etc. We talk about where he's decided to set up his home office and why, equipment, tech tools, ergonomics, and time management/combating procrastination, and how they handle the division of household responsibilities in a family with two working parents. Please see below for a list of the physical and digital products Ryan recommends and uses in his business/office space.
Ryan Langr can be reached at:
Ryan sells his Dungeons and Dragons PDFs at DMS Guild*:
as well as Drive Thru RPG*--make sure to find Cities of Myth (5e): Fallen Camelot here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/13092/Realmwarp-Media?affiliate_id=1557933
Under desk elliptical Ryan uses--see it on Amazon* here: https://amzn.to/35dKmKO
Office Chair Ryan uses--see it on Amazon* here: https://amzn.to/2QXSOW4
Ryan mentions some blogging he'd been doing on his own, but he also spent a year doing ghostwriting projects on Upwork. He shared this link to one of his own projects:
If you'd like to be a guest on the Yes, I Work From Home Podcast, please go to https://www.yesiworkfromhome.com/podcast/guest and click on the first big green "guest interview" button to let us know more about you and your work-from-home life. We are on the lookout for people with interesting stories about how they're making their WFH life work, whether you're working for yourself or someone else. You can also recommend someone else who you think would be a great fit for this podcast using the second green button "guest recommendation."
Find out more about our host, April Malone, and Yes, I Work From Home at our website www.yesiworkfromhome.com
If you work from home as an remote work/teleworking employee, freelancer, independent contractor, or entrepreneur, please join our work-from-home community on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/groups/yesiworkfromhome
*Some of the above links are affiliate links and help us or our guests earn a small commission on qualifying purchases without changing the price for you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for supporting our businesses in this way.
April Malone 0:28
Hello, hello! My name is April Malone; and I'm with Yes, I Work From Home, and this is our podcast. Today, we have Ryan Langr with us; and we go way back, don't we Ryan?
Ryan Langr 0:39
Yeah, about 30 years.
April Malone 0:41
Yeah. I remember the day that your parents got married. And I think your birthday is only two days after mine.
Ryan Langr 0:49
April Malone 0:50
So, just to get it out of the way, Ryan and I actually share a grandma. Our fathers were brothers; so, we are first cousins, and he is very gracious. It's kind of cool, because we haven't always been in touch all these years. We've lived out of state from each other; and I think, now that we are both working from home, we've had a lot more reason to talk and connect more recently. And, so, he was willing to go with me on this podcast first. It worked out really well for me, because we tried to go live today; and it was a total train wreck. The program that I was trying to use didn't work with my computer, and we were trying to go live at the same time while troubleshooting and just deleted everything. So, what I want to say about that, though, is that it was really, really good for me in retrospect, to experience that frustration; because it just gives me a little empathy again for all the people who are currently being thrust into all this new technology, working from home unexpectedly, these teachers who are doing online teaching. So, I don't know. I think we kind of gradually got accustomed to working from home, and these people are just like--boom!--and I had those feelings today. This is just all new, and it didn't work.
Ryan Langr 2:08
April Malone 2:10
So, thank you for coming today, Ryan.
Ryan Langr 2:12
My pleasure. I'm excited to talk about working from home.
April Malone 2:15
So, let's just go way back to the beginning and talk a little bit about what happened before you start working from home and how you came to that point; and then we'll kind of delve into a little bit of what it was like for you to make that transition.
Ryan Langr 2:29
Yeah, so, I worked in ministry for about eight years after college. It's what I went to college for, and I was working in a ministry job. About five years ago, right after my daughter was being born--or right after she was born, was just kind of going through the motions, you know, bringing in the paycheck. My wife had just started a direct sales company; and she said, "You know, you don't like your job. Why don't we have you stay home, you can take care of the kid and kind of keep the house clean so that I can focus on my direct sales business?" So, I kind of jumped at that. For a while, I was just a stay-at-home dad, for about two years, and focused on that. I did a little writing in my spare time; and I've been blogging for about 15 years. I started that in in college. So, that kind of laid the groundwork for me to eventually, about two years ago, go into freelance writing and editing. I started with that, just kind of bringing in some extra income, take some of the pressure off my wife, because I wasn't working. Then, eventually, I decided to just make an actual business out of it. So, now I'm focusing on the entertainment industry, primarily writing for Dungeons and Dragons, but publishing my own books and PDFs, managing a team, editing, marketing, project management, all that stuff. So, really, if I looked back four years ago, I never would have thought I would have been here. But the process was gradual, and I've learned a lot and grown a lot, and will be growing a lot more this coming few months, especially as school starts up and everything. So, yeah, I'm just--I'm excited to talk about what I've learned and hear about April's experiences as well.
April Malone 4:47
Yeah, so I totally forgot to read the bio that we had prepared, but I think you're covered most of the stuff already, right?
Ryan Langr 4:55
Yeah, I think so.
April Malone 4:56
Let's see. So, it says "Two years ago, he started his own tabletop game design publishing company and has thrived working from home." So, your daughter is five, and what grade is she going into?
Ryan Langr 5:10
She'll be starting kindergarten here.
April Malone 5:13
Right. We also have a five year old just starting kindergarten now. I think we're about a month ahead of you as far as schools in Arizona. We started the end of July.
Ryan Langr 5:22
April Malone 5:23
So, Ryan actually lives in my home state of Minnesota, and you've been there, except for maybe a little hiatus into Wisconsin, most of the time, right?
Ryan Langr 5:33
I've been in Minnesota since fifth grade, so basically my whole life.
April Malone 5:37
Right. And it's very different. And even the school dates start a little later. So, you guys have had a little bit more time to get ready for this change. Which school option have you decided to go with? I'm assuming you've been given some choices?
Ryan Langr 5:52
Yeah, so we actually... The state is doing distance option and hybrid option. We just opted to go with all online, mostly just for the sake of consistency; because we don't know how long schools will be in person. Our daughter thrives on consistency; so, we just said, we're gonna do, K-12, which, in Minnesota is IQ Academy. So, yep. Waiting for all those school supplies to be shipped in and starting to get on a schedule--the summer break slog. And, yeah, it'll be fun.
April Malone 6:29
Yes, yes. And we're doing the same thing. We also have opted to just go ahead and stay online. John and I both work from home, and we were here. And, honestly, it's easier. Well, it's not, it's challenging every different direction you go. But not having to leave the house every morning and drive to school and then come home and then go pick them up, it just makes less breaks in the day. And we like our kids, so--not that people that send theirs don't, I mean, we were very happy to send them to school.
Ryan Langr 7:00
April Malone 7:00
And we were really hoping that that would be the case; but, at this point, where we live, we've just decided to go with this for consistency. And our school is going to let us make a change. They'll let us change our mind every quarter; they'll let us opt for a different choice if we want to.
Ryan Langr 7:15
That's nice. Yeah.
April Malone 7:17
There's a lot to talk about with that, but I think we've got other things to get into right now. So, let's go back to the beginning again. So, your wife was working with the direct sales, but I know that she also has a full time job.
Ryan Langr 7:32
April Malone 7:33
How long has she been doing that? Because, I know she's working a lot of hours.
Ryan Langr 7:36
Yeah, so back when I started working from home, she was working for a college, our alma mater, actually, St Mary's University; and, now, she's working for Austin Public Schools, Austin, Minnesota, not Austin, Texas. So she's works in tech, for the public schools, so troubleshooting all the tech issues that are going on right now. And she also works about 30 hours a week for doing direct sales, and she's a director for that.
April Malone 8:10
Yes, so she puts in long weeks, long weeks.
Ryan Langr 8:14
Yes. Yes, she does.
April Malone 8:16
So, at some point we need to talk a little bit about, like, division of labor in the household. Do most of the household responsibilities fall on you at that point, then?
Ryan Langr 8:26
Yeah, so, I have done most of the housework, the simple stuff, you know, dishes, laundry, all that. She kind of still takes care of the more rearranging the furniture and stuff like that. And, then, I used to do all the cooking; but we switched to vegan, and that is definitely not my strong suit; so, she does the cooking now, or we just order out, and cave. We've actually recently hired someone to come in and help us clean every two weeks which has been a huge blessing, especially as my business keeps getting busier. And, as we go back to school, there's just--you know, something's gotta give. So, we decided to invest in our mental health and get someone else to help.
April Malone 9:16
That was our goal for this year as well, and we're taking a pause on that idea. At this point, but yeah, that's a goal, here.
Ryan Langr 9:25
April Malone 9:30
So, Realmwarp Media.
Ryan Langr 9:33
April Malone 9:35
Let's go there for a minute, and then I want to go back and talk a little bit about just how working from home is working for you.
Ryan Langr 9:42
Yeah. Yeah. Um, what do you want to know?
April Malone 9:48
Just tell us a little bit of like how you got started and that transition.
Ryan Langr 9:53
Yeah, so, it's kind of actually kind of just like falling into a dream, almost. I was introduced to this game Dungeons and Dragons which I had never played before, but my buddy said "Hey, let's just get together, and you can try it out and play it," and I loved it. It was a great time. And then I found out that I could like--it was a creative endeavor, and I'm a fundamentally creative person. So, I started doing some writing for that in my free time; and then I found out I could make money doing it. I was like, okay, that sounds like a great business opportunity; and I just decided I was going to go for it. And, two years later, I'm managing a team of about 15 people.
April Malone 10:38
So, this was just all recently, in the last few years, right?
Ryan Langr 10:42
Yeah about--I think I technically founded the company in November of 2017 and didn't really get on my feet until March of 2018; so, it's been just barely over two years.
April Malone 10:57
After only having been playing the game for one or two years?
Ryan Langr 11:01
About a year, yeah.
April Malone 11:03
Wow. My brothers are really big into it--they get into the costumes and the figurines and all the things.
Ryan Langr 11:10
April Malone 11:11
Have you always been playing online, or do you do in person?
Ryan Langr 11:14
Well, I used to play in person. Lately, everything is online. Yeah, I kind of prefer playing in person; but playing online is better for my business, so...
April Malone 11:26
Oh, yeah. So, are you writing? Writing storylines?
Ryan Langr 11:31
Yeah, so I write storylines. I write like different rules that you can insert into the game that are different from what the core game offers. I write like different settings, different worlds to play in. So, I recently, basically converted the myth of Camelot, which is one of the most famous myths; and I say "This is how you can play D&D Camelot." And I had a successful Kickstarter for that, and that was a learning experience, for sure. So, yeah, it's a little bit of everything. It's creative, it's technical, kind of fills both sides of my brain.
April Malone 12:10
What are people paying you to do?
Ryan Langr 12:14
Sometimes I will contract my services out for like editing or writing. I prefer if I'm getting paid to do the editing, just because it's a little more technical. It doesn't tax my other work. But, mostly I'm paying myself by creating ideas, hiring people to execute the ideas, and then people buy the products; and that's really how I get paid. I get paid a percentage of royalties, anywhere between 5% and 65% royalties.
April Malone 12:49
Wow, and these products, where are they located?
Ryan Langr 12:54
Yeah. So, most of them are PDFs. They are located on two different websites that kind of specialize in Dungeons and Dragons, DMs Guild and DriveThruRPG. And I have a few print-on-demand options; so, if you'd like a fancy hardcover, you can buy one and print one off. But, for now, those are the two places that they're available. I'm looking into doing some web design and opening my own storefront, maybe getting some stuff in like brick and mortar stores as well; but it's a learning process, making this up as I go.
April Malone 13:30
So, we talked a couple of years ago; and I know you were doing some freelance writing. Was that also all D&D, or was it other stuff too?
Ryan Langr 13:38
Yeah, so I did Upwork for a while which is kind of like a talent scout for basically any skill; but I did mostly writing, a little bit of editing there. I actually was employed with one client there for about a year. I did a relationship advice blog, actually. I reviewed dating websites; and I basically said, you know, these are dating tips for divorced dads, or dating tips for single dads or widows or, you know, stuff like that. So, I did an article a week of that for about a year, which--
April Malone 13:51
I didn't know this.
Ryan Langr 14:19
Yeah, it was a wild ride.
April Malone 14:22
I know I told you about Upwork, but I only did like two jobs; and you, like, took it and ran with it.
Ryan Langr 14:30
Yeah, yeah. And I just finished that in about January. I decided to focus more on my business. But, I still love taking freelance jobs, mixing them up a little bit; and, yeah, I've done everything from like helping people write letters of recommendation to helping them edit their thesis papers. So, I love the variety that I can find.
April Malone 14:56
Let's talk a little bit about your transition to working from home. So you had been working in the ministry, and I know you had moved a couple of times. So, is it when you came back to your current city in Austin that you decided to be the stay-at-home dad/freelancer?
Ryan Langr 15:14
Yeah, so we were in Winona still at that time, where my wife was working at our alma mater, that's a hard word to say, and I think I was at home there for about a year, basically doing--I technically started my business there. We moved back to Austin in 2018. In May of 2018, and that's where I really started to dedicate myself to making this a business, not just like a side gig.
April Malone 15:51
Ryan Langr 15:52
April Malone 15:52
So, at this point, do you feel like you would label yourself as a stay-at-home dad or a working dad or kind of like a stay-at-home working dad?
Ryan Langr 16:01
Yeah, I kind of feel like I have three jobs, like I am a small business entrepreneur. I'm a stay-at-home dad; and I'm, to some extent, a housekeeper and teacher as well.
April Malone 16:16
Ryan Langr 16:16
A bit of everything. Yeah. So, I'd say I'm all three of those things.
April Malone 16:21
I feel it, because I think like when I would drop my kids off at school, I would be in the parking lot, and I was able to volunteer, and kind of do all the same things as my stay-at-home mom friends were doing; but I was waking up at 2:15 in the morning to be able to work full time and like working 20 hours on the weekend. It's almost like you're living a double life sometimes.
Ryan Langr 16:46
Yeah. And especially, like, liking my job. It started off as recreation for me. I have to be very deliberate about putting it away. Sometimes I'll work on the weekend, but I try to be very deliberate about being present. When I could easily work 60 hours a week and enjoy it, you know, setting those boundaries is difficult.
April Malone 17:13
So, you're one of those people who--it was like your hobby; and, then, you started getting paid for it, and it's not like you want to just put your work away at the end of the day, it's also your fun.
Ryan Langr 17:26
Yeah, so I mean I'll be like, I need to be productive today, there's things I need to do; but if I'm bored, and I don't know what to do, like, I'll naturally gravitate towards doing some work which is like a blessing and a curse at the same time.
April Malone 17:41
Yeah, not everyone can say that. Not everyone feels that way about their job.
Ryan Langr 17:46
I'm very lucky, and I am intentional about that because of the way I felt about my jobs in the past. I won't do anything that I am not in love with.
April Malone 17:59
There you go. So, let's talk a little bit about when you started working from home. I guess--what were some of the challenges that you remember from when you first started working from home, I know you had kind of a gradual transition, but can you just talk about some of those challenges?
Ryan Langr 18:19
Yeah, I think, the biggest challenge was not swinging too far to be just like, "Oh, I'm at home, I can relax all the time." Like, I think when Mena was first born, I played a lot of video games with her like right next to me in the bouncer. It was really hard to get into the mentality of "this is a place where I can get work done." You know, there's days when I can choose to sleep in, and then there's days when I need to get up early. I think not relishing in that freedom, not abusing that freedom, was my biggest challenge. Because, early in my life, I always kind of tended towards procrastination and being a little slothful.
April Malone 19:11
Ryan Langr 19:12
Yeah, it probably runs in the family. So, it was setting that routine and those schedules and finding ways to motivate myself to work, even if I loved my job. You know, once it becomes your job, even though you like it, like "Oh, I should be procrastinating from my job, because that's just what people do." So that has taken four years and is still in process. And, every time my life changes, I have to readjust. So, just setting those routines and schedules has been probably the greatest challenge.
April Malone 19:54
Who determines your production schedule? Is it something that you just kind of do as you think of it? Or do you have any time demands or deadlines?
Ryan Langr 20:02
Yeah, so when I take jobs from clients, they'll typically have deadlines; but I can choose not to take jobs from clients. I just end up getting paid less which is, you know, I'm free to do. But other than that, like when I'm making my own material, I set the deadlines; and I try to be aware of my team's mental health and the fact that life has to come first and, you know, trying to kind of be the boss I wish I always had. Yeah, so, for the most part, I'm in control of my schedule. You know, within reason; because we have to eat and pay rent.
April Malone 20:41
Let's talk about your team for a minute. You just mentioned a team. Now, how do you divide the labor, who's in charge? How does that work?
Ryan Langr 20:49
Yeah, so I basically act as the project manager and creative director which usually leaves me doing all the things like budgeting and HR and marketing. I pretty much just take on all those, and then I seek out other freelancers and other contractors; but I kind of work with the same ones a lot, as well as kind of bringing in newbies every once in a while to kind of train them into the industry. But I typically find people to do the stuff that I don't like doing. So, you know, I like writing, I can write; but I prefer to like just do the more visionary and creative work; so I find writers. I find people to do like the layout, the putting all the words on the page and stuff; because I definitely cannot do that. And I find artists, because I cannot draw. People won't buy stuff with stick figures. So, yeah, I look for things to fill the holes of stuff that I don't like to do, because it's worth paying people for that.
April Malone 21:57
So, I've heard people say that you should delegate the things that you are bad at and you hate and then you delegate the things that you are good at but you don't like. So, do feel like you're to that point, at this point?
Ryan Langr 22:10
Yeah, I'd say that's that's a good summary of where I'm at.
April Malone 22:14
And then the next step I think is to delegate the things that you're good at and you enjoy, but they're low value tasks.
Ryan Langr 22:20
Yeah, that's a good way to put that. That's probably where I'm headed.
April Malone 22:26
Good. So, let's talk about right now some challenges--not challenges--do you have any current frustrations or things? I know that you're in a transition right now with your daughter's school. What are some frustrations that you deal with now, compared to when you started?
Ryan Langr 22:44
Well, managing people, I didn't have to do that when I started; because I was doing everything myself. So, I am learning. I don't have a degree or training in project management. I'm learning it all as I go, and I have to deal with people's, you know, having to take time off for this crazy world that we live in; and I need to take time off for that, too. And, just, I'm at the point now where I'm working too much. So, part of the challenge is knowing when to walk away and just spend time with my daughter, spend time with my wife, and then just running a business in a time when people are strapped for money is also a little difficult but, yeah, we'll make it through.
April Malone 23:35
Absolutely. What about--let's talk about your office space; and how do you manage, like, ergonomics and just, you know, having a child in the home while you're working? Can you talk about that for a little bit?
Ryan Langr 23:51
Yeah, so I don't have my own office space. That privilege belongs to my wife. She has occupied the third bedroom upstairs which she can close off. We made little signs, different colors. So, red means "Go see Daddy, because Mommy can't be disturbed." And that is the sign mostly on her door. So, my wife has that space. I have, as you can see, I'm basically right in our living room. I have a long desk here where I set up my computer so I can be even taking meetings or doing writing or whatever while my daughter is in the living room, sometimes watching a movie or playing iPad. Her school desk is right here to my left, so we kind of will share the same workspace as we start school. And then she does have a playroom downstairs which I can kind of just send her down there if I need a little privacy; but, for the most part, we decided that I needed to be available and around. So part of my challenge is learning how to multitask or also like just quickly shift between her needs and my needs, and that took a while. Sometimes I can get half an hour of work done. Sometimes I rapidly switch between five minutes of work, five minutes her, five minutes work, which is not necessarily conducive to productivity, but we get it done.
April Malone 25:20
Do you find yourself working at certain times of the day, like early in the morning before she wakes up or after she goes to bed or do you guys both have your same work hours? You and your daughter?
Ryan Langr 25:31
Yeah, so I usually try to get up before her. It doesn't always work. Then, I try to get--basically, I work from like 7am to 11 o'clock. We hit lunch and, then, sometimes I'll either keep working; or we'll spend some time together, or I'll do housework. It kind of depends on her needs, like if she's in more of an independent kind of mood, I'll go back to work. Otherwise, we'll, you know, hang out together. Yeah, but we do have a basic routine. Morning is Daddy's work time, and afternoon is housework or spending time together. And, then, Mommy gets home; and Mommy gets to spend time with her. Yeah. And as far as ergonomics, I just got a new chair which is really nice. I was, like, going to the chiropractor and massage therapist every week; because I had this really like dinky unpadded chair without any arm rests or something; and I'm 5' 3"; so, like, my feet were always dangling. I just got this really nice chair, and I can already tell that it's making a huge difference.
April Malone 26:41
I'm also 5' 3".
I'm in a chair that I got from back in my Mayo Clinic days. We had a Salvation Army that was in Rochester, Minnesota; and, every time Mayo Clinic would unload their old office equipment, those of us who were going to be working remotely were able to go in and swing in and get a chair that would be like an $800 chair brand new; and we could get it for $10. But the first one that I got was kind of wonky, and the second one I got is probably 20-30 years old now. And that's what I'm sitting in now; so, I want to hear more about your chair. Is it, like, fully adjustable?
Ryan Langr 27:17
Yeah, so it's like goes up and down like most chairs; and, then, you can like swing the back up and back. It even like tilts a little bit, so the back can be higher than the front. So my feet actually touch. It's like the first chair I've ever had that my feet can actually touch the ground. And it's got armrests which I haven't had in like four years. Yeah, and I also have this thing on my desk to elevate my laptop; so, if I want to stand, I can; and it keeps me from looking down like this at my laptop.
April Malone 27:49
Do you keep your laptop propped up, and do you have like an external keyboard, or how do you do that?
Ryan Langr 27:55
Yeah, so I keep it at about eye level, so I'm looking up instead of down; and I have an external keyboard and an external mouse; so, I'm not, you know, sitting like this, trying to type. I work on a laptop, and I have two monitors as well. So I do kind of crank my neck looking at my other monitors sometimes. That's probably the next thing we'll figure out how to fix.
April Malone 28:22
And then what about like getting a little bit of physical activity? Do you just like go run outside with your kid for a little bit, or what do you do?
Ryan Langr 28:28
Yeah, so we have playtime together. We'll go for a walk on her bike or stuff like that. But I have an elliptical right back here, just a little--like I could fit it under my desk if I wanted to. I try to actually start my morning doing about 20 minutes of that. And then, sometimes, you know, if I didn't get at it, if she woke up early or something, I'll just do like five laps up and down the stairs really quick.
April Malone 28:53
I make my son do that when he's super hyper. I'm like, you go take five times up and down.
Ryan Langr 28:59
It is a good workout. I'm usually out of breath by the time I do it. I'm a little out of shape, but yeah. So, just finding what you have around to kind of stay in shape is important, because you sit in a chair all day, and your muscles and bones get kind of achy; and I try to avoid that.
April Malone 29:19
I think what I found is, when I used to work onsite, I would have to park my car about seven blocks away when I worked for Mayo Clinic; and you don't really think about it. It's about an eight-minute walk. And, then, at my lunch break, you know I was in downtown Rochester. I could swing around to the bank and to the restaurants, and I could do a lap or two on my breaks; and I probably was putting in quite a few miles a day without even realizing it. When you're home, it's just like to the bed, to the bathroom, to the kitchen; and I realize it now. You said, elliptical, is it like a manual one, or is it like a little foot one?
Ryan Langr 29:27
Yeah, you just step into it, and it's basically just big enough for my feet to fit. And, yeah, you can like kind of crank up the resistance and stuff. I always do it on the lowest.
April Malone 30:05
I feel like I've seen one--like, can you actually be using it at your desk, like under your desk?
Ryan Langr 30:10
Yeah, I could put it under my desk. I have a little bar under my desk; so, it wouldn't fit too well; but it is it is technically made to be under my desk.
April Malone 30:17
Yeah, I'll have you send me the link for that so I can put it into the show notes.
If people are curious? And your chair, too, because I am kind of in the market. My husband just got a new desk and a new chair provided by his company, and he was given like a $500 budget actually.
That included-- he could choose like monitor, chair, desk. Actually, the chair--anyone who lived within 70 miles got the chair; and, so, he was able to get like a standing desk and a monitor with that money. I'm a little jealous, because I'm in the closet; and he is in the bedroom. So, when he's working onsite or when he's not actually working, sometimes I sneak out and sit at his nice desk in his nice chair. It's kind of nice.
Do you ever take over your wife's office?
Ryan Langr 31:02
I don't, she's got a lot of like inventory and stuff. So, if I need a change of scene or if I need to hide from my kid, I go lay in my nice queen size bed and just sit with my laptop there.
April Malone 31:16
Been there, done that.
Actually, I sometimes go on my bed in order to be closer to my kid; because she's got her desk set up next to my husband, like you and your daughter do. And, then, I come in here when I need to be in a call. Now, do you often do like conference calls or video calls, or is most of your communication--how do you do it?
Ryan Langr 31:35
I'd say 90% is probably just via messaging apps, but I'm doing more podcasts and phone calls and stuff as I get deeper into project management. So, I usually just say "Hey, I'm in a meeting. You have to go play iPad for a little bit or go play in your play room and just pretend like you're not here; and, miraculously, it usually works.
April Malone 32:05
I can't believe it, 'cause I have a five year old; and she's literally the opposite of that.
Ryan Langr 32:12
Well, we got lucky.
April Malone 32:15
Let's talk about some of the tools you just talked about. You said messaging apps. What kind of tools do you use as far--we just talked about, like, ergonomics and like desk equipment and physical exercise stuff; but let's talk about like digital tools. What do you use?
Ryan Langr 32:28
Yeah. So, as far as messaging goes, I usually use Discord. It's kind of the new kid on the block for messaging. You can do voice; and it's almost like a forum, except for it doesn't like pin stuff very well. But you can have different channels and stuff. It's very good for carrying on multiple projects and conversations at once. So that's what I use mostly for messaging. And, then, I use Google docs for pretty much everything.
April Malone 33:03
I do too.
Ryan Langr 33:03
Writing, editing. Yeah, I just love Google Docs. And, then as far as actual like organization or project management, I use Trello.
April Malone 33:12
Tell me, why do you like Trello?
Ryan Langr 33:16
It's just very streamlined, and it's very intuitive. Like, I don't need a lot of bells and whistles. I've used stuff like Slack, or Airtable. And those are great, but it's it's more than I need. So, I just prefer to streamline it so I'm not messing with or using a bunch of distracting tools that I don't need.
April Malone 33:39
Right. Well, let me see here we've got a few more questions, and then I think we can wrap things up. Okay. What are some things that you would like to improve? I think you've mentioned a little bit, in your work-from-home situation that would make, I know that we're in a pandemic right now... Even so, what are some things that you feel like will help you with that work-life balance.
Ryan Langr 34:03
Yeah, I think remembering why I work from home. I work from home for the freedom, for the ability to be around my daughter and provide her what she needs. So, I think the times that I lose track of that is when I tend to work more, ironically. So, just being better with that mindset. And then I can guarantee that I will need improvement in my time management skills as school starts up.
April Malone 34:35
Oh yeah, it's a whole new ballgame.
Ryan Langr 34:37
Yeah, I'm like, excited and also like very, very worried about not getting any work done. But we'll figure it out. She's independent and stuff, so.
April Malone 34:48
Do you know if your online classes for your daughter will have like a set meeting time every day, or is it going to be kind of different all the time?
Ryan Langr 34:57
Yeah. So, from what I'm told, there's only two like online actual live classes a week for half an hour twice a week. So, like, based on what I heard about other schools, it's like we really lucked out there. That just means I'm doing more of the hands-on teaching myself, so it kind of a trade off.
April Malone 35:14
And some people would say you lucked out and some people would say "What? I want my kid to be occupied more!" Our daughter is getting about 15 minutes in the morning, and we haven't even had small groups developed yet; and it's been like five weeks. So, when I signed her up for half-day kindergarten, I didn't want to have to pay the extra $300 a month for her to be in full-day kindergarten and have to have me helping her for those extra hours. So, I thought, if we just do the half day, it'll be really consolidated. She'll have like all the learning in the morning, and I was envisioning two or three hours of her on a computer every day, and it was like 15 minutes.
Ryan Langr 35:48
April Malone 35:48
So that just means that she's, like I said, she's not one that plays independently very well; and she's like our little buddy right now, we're hanging out a lot.
Ryan Langr 35:57
Yeah, I'm sure it'll take some adjusting.
April Malone 36:00
I'll give you one tip, if you can set recurring alarms for those dates.
I do a five minute reminder, and a two-minute alarm that goes off before the class. Because, in five minutes, you can get distracted and forget what you were doing and that you need to log in, trust me.
Ryan Langr 36:15
Yep, I definitely could see that happening to myself. Yeah. I will take that advice.
April Malone 36:21
So, you mentioned that you're getting some housekeeping help. Is there anything else that would make this a dream job for you? I know you're on your way.
Ryan Langr 36:32
Yeah, I guess just like getting more formal or professional training for doing these jobs that I'm just kind of making up on my own, or like having like a group of contacts or something. Basically, like what you're starting, a bunch of people in the same spot and with various skills that, you know, we can kind of just draw from or tap into as needed. I think that's very useful. I love--
April Malone 37:05
Thank you for saying that!
Ryan Langr 37:06
Yeah. No, I'm super excited about what you're doing. And I think it's a huge help having those resources just all in one place.
April Malone 37:20
Do you know other people who work from home? Do a lot of the people that you freelance with, are they all? Obviously, now, many people are. But did you have a community at all of people who work, like you do, from home?
Ryan Langr 37:32
Yeah, I mean a bunch of them do this just as a side gig; but, especially lately, a lot of them are home. And a few of them do it full time like I do. So, I do know a good crowd of people at home; but it's not something that we talk about. Like, I don't know why.
April Malone 37:55
You just talk about work, but you don't talk about the lifestyle?
Ryan Langr 37:58
I feel like people just kind of like feel like they just have to deal with it and handle it on their own, like they don't realize like what talking about it and sharing their struggles is--how it's gonna help them find people to empathize with or to, you know, give them legit advice about, you know, your back doesn't have to hurt working from home, or you don't have to get distracted by Facebook every five minutes, I do sometimes but...
April Malone 38:28
Have I told you my magic trick about Facebook?
No. Oh, yes, yes you did.
I did! Okay, I'll tell everyone else, though.
Ryan Langr 38:36
April Malone 38:36
So, I use Facebook a lot for business, for multiple reasons, different jobs I've had along--in the past, and currently now, and in the future, just being part of like this community of entrepreneurs. But, especially like, during the pandemic, and the news, and the school options, and all the things that are going on, it's easy to get sucked in for like, what, four or five hours! I mean, I'm not going to lie. I mean this happened. Newsfeed Eradicator is a Chrome extension you can use, and it basically hides your timeline--your newsfeed. It hides your newsfeed so that all you see is an inspirational quote. And you can still use it. You can still search for, like if I want to go check out Ryan, I can just type in your name, and it'll bring me straight to your wall. I can see what you've been up to. I can go to my groups. I can see my notifications. I can see my messages. I can see all the things I need to see except for the noise that distracts.
Yeah, the temptation is not there.
I do keep it on my phone, but I put a timer on my phone.
Ryan Langr 39:41
April Malone 39:42
I have an iPhone, so I use the screentime feature; and I put a time limit of how much time, and it gives me a warning; and then I have to put in a passcode. I have tried to train myself that, when that warning goes off, to just opt out, to just back out and just be like, "Oh, yeah, my time's up." Unless I'm like literally in the middle of a conversation.
Ryan Langr 40:05
Yeah, yeah that's excellent advice, I should follow it.
April Malone 40:09
It's helped me so much, and it just helps me have a lot more peace during this time with people with so much noise and information, and I still get to--oh, and also, another tip on Facebook, is to mark the people who you really are interested in following as like your "close friends" or to "see first" or to be notified when they do post, so that your feed is filled with the, maybe the more positive things that you want to see if you feel like you're getting down into that rabbit hole of negativity. So, that has also just helped me. I do see the stuff, but I don't see it as much.
Ryan Langr 40:44
Yeah, that's all excellent advice.
April Malone 40:47
So, Ryan, how can people find you?
Ryan Langr 40:51
Well, I have Facebook, Twitter, and email. So you can reach out to me on my personal Facebook account at Ryan.Langr, I think, is the Facebook. You can reach out to me on Twitter at RealmWarpM, I couldn't fit the whole name in there, or you can email me at email@example.com, and I'm always happy to take questions about working from home or take your editing or writing commissions if you want to pay me, you know.
April Malone 41:26
Did you mention the website? Did I miss that?
Ryan Langr 41:28
I do have a website, yes. It is realmwarpmedia.carrd.co.
April Malone 41:38
And we should probably just mention that Langr doesn't have an E in it, because I lived with that name for 31 years. It's LANGR.
It was Czechoslavkian or something from over there.
Ryan Langr 41:54
Yeah, they took out the E for some reason; it doesn't make sense, but it makes us unique.
April Malone 41:59
Yes, it's easier to find you when you can spell it right.
Ryan Langr 42:02
April Malone 42:03
Well, thank you Ryan. Is there anything else that you want to share with people that might inspire people who are getting started or to encourage those that are in the middle of it, working from home?
Ryan Langr 42:15
Yeah, I think, if you can work from home, if you can justify it financially, you know, take the leap and do it. It's definitely an adjustment, but the amount of freedom that you have and the amount of flexibility that you have is worth it and just commit to training yourself to getting into those good habits, and, you know, it can even improve a job that you don't like. Just go for it.
April Malone 42:47
Yeah, right. I had a job with Mayo Clinic that I didn't enjoy when I was onsite, but when it allowed me to move to a new city where I could keep my same job and my benefits and my higher base rate that I had from working for a Minnesotan company when I lived in another state that had a lower cost of living, they also had lower pay. And, so, I was able to live in a nicer house... Yeah, that makes sense, right? Yeah, I was able to live in a nicer house than I could have in Minnesota.
Ryan Langr 43:15
Yeah, because you moved to a more affordable area.
April Malone 43:17
Yep. Now, with you, you are an entrepreneur; and, so, you do have that time flexibility. Some people who work from home don't. They have to still clock in. Have you ever had that experience of having to work for another employer at certain hours or anything like that?
Ryan Langr 43:31
When I had a real job, yeah, but never from home. No. I could see how that would make it a little more difficult, and I do understand that a lot of people like the sociability that they get at work. So I think if you are working from home and you crave that kind of interaction, definitely find some way to do that via through zoom meetings or, you know, keeping a text app open or whatever, as long as your employer is okay with that; but working from home doesn't have to mean isolation.
April Malone 44:10
Or starting a hobby, a local hobby with like real people.
What do you do?
Ryan Langr 44:17
Well, I don't really need friends.
April Malone 44:18
You and my husband--just kidding.
Ryan Langr 44:27
Yeah, that might be one area where I need to work in. But I'm really quite happy with just my wife and daughter for the most part; and, for the most part, I really enjoy my coworkers; because it's a naturally fun job, so I will spend some time talking with them most days, going off on tangents that aren't work related. But, it fulfills that social need; and I think that's great. You know, you gather around the coffee pot or the water cooler at work; so why not do that at home?
April Malone 45:03
Right, and you said you had the D&D going for a while, too.
Yeah, yeah, and I play with my colleagues, occasionally. Yeah.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here; and I think we'll call this a wrap. Thank you so much, Ryan.
Thank you for having me. It was a blast.
And say hi to Grandma if you see her soon.
I will try, yeah.
All right. Thank you so much.
Ryan Langr 45:25
April Malone 45:26