5 ways to customize your work

Alexandra Samuel
4 min readMay 19, 2024
Using AI to work while I walk is one way I work more like me! Get the how-to here.

It’s time to work like us

There’s no one best way to work — but it’s not easy to figure out the work practices that align with our individual preferences and talents. How do creative thinkers find their own best way to work? What tactics and tools unlock their unique talents?

Here are five ways you can start to build your own toolkit for custom work — that is, work that suits your own quirks and talents.

Work in motion.

Some people do their best work at a desk, but many of us generate new ideas and energy when we move our bodies. The ChatGPT phone app has made it a lot easier to be productive on the go.

I start a voice-based chat session as I head out the door, ask ChatGPT to capture my stream-of-consciousness rambling, and then get the AI to prompt me for ideas or questions I haven’t considered. Then I get ChatGPT to put my notes into some kind of order, and return it to me as text I can access from my desktop. Get the how-to here.

Turn work into a source of regeneration.

When we were in our long years of family crisis, work couldn’t be another thing that drained me: Work had to be the thing that restored me. Check out my reel for three tactics that turn work into regeneration: saying no to the wrong projects, prioritizing work that reminds me of who I am, and picking clients and colleagues to meet my social needs. These tactics not only helped me survive, but also let me craft a working life I love.

Get flexibility by cultivating scarce skills.

The struggle over how much time to spend at the office will likely continue for many years. To strengthen your position when it comes time to negotiating for flexible work arrangements — even if you don’t need that flexibility right now, or your current manager isn’t asking for more office time than you want — make sure you cultivate skills that are hard for your employer to replace.

As I told the New York Post’s Perri O. Blumberg, “[e]ven the most reluctant hybrid employers have now mostly accepted that some degree of remote work is here to stay, especially if you have to compete for any sort of skilled or scarce employee.” Find more examples of how people are making hybrid the new normal in her story, Most people want hybrid jobs — these remote work positions may surprise you.

Find new options for how to tackle a problem.

When you tackle tasks in a way that fits with your personal preferences and strengths, your workday feels more intuitive and enjoyable. But often we’re stuck doing tasks the way we’ve always done them, or the way someone told us to do it. AI lets us find new ways to tackle tasks — including ways we might not know about! Just ask an AI for two or three different ways you might approach a specific work problem.

For example, when I asked ChatGPT for a few ways I might clean up a messy and complicated spreadsheet, it not only gave me some possible formulas: It told me I could handle the whole process by writing a Python program that could clean up my spreadsheet for me. Yes, I could have done the cleanup work manually in only a little more time than it took to create the program (with the AI’s help!) but I had a lot more fun working on a program, and I learned a new skill in the process.

Use AI tools to get the information you want in the form you want.

Working my way means organizing information in table or spreadsheet form — even if a lot of the Internet presents information as a page of text, not a table (like all those restaurant listings, TV roundups and software recommendations.) Web scraping is a way of turning unstructured online information into a structured format (like a spreadsheet) that you can keep at your fingertips, but it can take some skill and patience to make web scraping work.

Bardeen.ai is the first AI-enabled scraper I’ve tried, and I’ve been impressed at how easy it was to set up and run a complicated scraping recipe. You can do a free 14-day trial before you have to commit to a subscription, and I was able to get a dramatic (80% off) discount code by searching the Bardeen website.



Alexandra Samuel

Speaker on hybrid & remote work. Author, Remote Inc. Contributor to Wall Street Journal & Harvard Business Review. https://AlexandraSamuel.com/newsletter