A day in the life: working East Coast hours for a Denver-based company from Spain

9:30am Spain / 3:30am EST / 1:30am MST – Wake up, get dressed, and work out with the husband – usually we go for a run around the city (so many stairs and hills!!) or a Barre3 class online if it’s chilly.

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10:30am Spain / 4:30am EST / 2:30am MST – Breakfast at a local spot. We almost always end up at a bakery called Granier because the breakfast options are pretty much the same no matter where you go and Granier is both the best and, amazingly, the cheapest. I typically get a croissant & café con leche for 1,60 euros (~$2).

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11am Spain / 5am EST / 3am MST – We try to run one errand per day to spread out our interactions with people in Spanish, so this is the time of day that we go buy a candle, shop for a new scarf, or go to the market for some fruit. If we don’t have a specific thing we need to accomplish that day, we just stroll and window shop.

12:30pm Spain / 6:30am EST / 4:30am MST – Mandatory Rosetta Stone lesson at home.

1pm Spain / 7am EST / 5am MST – Lunch – We try not to eat at the same place twice since we exploring the city. Despite what you’ve heard about American portions, the meals here are absolutely massive. Pretty much every restaurant has a Menu of the Day available consisting of a first course of soup, salad, or tapas, a second course of one of their entrees, and it comes with bread, dessert, and a drink for about 11 euros (~$14), including tax and you don’t tip. It’s not a bad deal for how much you get, but we would easily gain 20 pounds each if we ate like that every day! Instead, we always order 2 drinks, usually “agua sin gas” which is uncarbonated water (the drinks all pretty much cost the same amount whether you order water, coke, wine, beer, coffee, sangria, etc.). and choose an entree off of the normal menu and split it. It’s almost always more than enough food and we can always gets a snack later if we get hungry. So, instead of spending 22 euros ($28) per day on lunch, we almost always come in under 10 euros (~$12.50) for both of us combined, even when we splurge and go for that second cup of coffee as dessert!

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2pm Spain / 8am EST / 6am MST – Log on to Skype and start work. There are only 3 people at CauseLabs who work an East Coast schedule so the quiet mornings are a great time to get a lot of uninterrupted work done and catch up on new emails from the day before. I can work without meetings (and get SO much done!) for about 3 hours if I get started right at 2pm.

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5pm Spain / 11am EST / 9am MST – Meeting mania commences. We try to have most meetings in the morning for Denver folks so that we can get them all out of the way and actually get things done for the rest of the day, this is usually a ~3 hour marathon of Skype call-hopping for me. I always keep my work calendar set to Denver time so that I’m not constantly trying to convert times in my head while interacting with coworkers online all day. A typical “morning” on my calendar:

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8:30pm Spain / 2:30pm EST / 12:30 MST – If everything is going according to plan, this is my dinner break. It’s a little early to eat dinner in Spain but coincides nicely with lunch breaks in Denver. The truth is that things very rarely “go according to plan” and I never really know when I’ll actually eat dinner. My sweet husband is in charge of dinner every night, he decides where and what we are going to eat and either buys ingredients, picks up take out, or is ready to walk out the door with a plan as soon as I have a long enough break. We typically either make bocadillos (baguette sandwiches) and salad or get some sort of take-out and eat on the rooftop terrace and watch the sunset. If we want to get out of the house, we usually go down the street to the tapas bar at the end of our block and order a variety of tapas. Here is a quick video Gil made of the eating experience at El Lechuguita, our go-to tapas bar for weeknight dinners:

Whether we eat in or go out, we never spend more than 10 euros (~$12.50) total on dinner for the 2 of us unless it’s a weekend. Since eating out is really important to us as a way to immerse ourselves in the language, interact with people here, and make friends, we stick to a very strict food budget and only keep enough cash with us for that specific day to eliminate temptation. We save up all of the extra money from the budget each day and add it to our weekend budget so that we can eat out at nicer dinner places on the weekends.

9:15pm Spain / 3:15 EST / 1:15 MST – Back online for any afternoon meetings that might have popped up and to cross more things off of my never-ending work to-do list.

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11pm Spain / 5pm EST / 3pm MST – Check email and Skype chats one last time and log off for the day. This is definitely an ideal scenario and has yet to actually happen. Since everyone else is still working and in the middle of their afternoon, it tends to be really hard to actually wrap up and log off on time.

11:30pm Spain / 5:30 EST / 3:30 MST – Time to unwind – A glass of wine and an episode on the iPad of whatever TV show we are into at the time (currently The Sopranos).

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12:30am Spain / 6:30EST / 4:30 MST – Daily devotional and some reading time on the Kindle.

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1am Spain / 7pm EST / 5pm MST – Ideal bedtime. Since it hasn’t been very long since I stopped working, it usually takes my brain a little while to be able to fall asleep and I end up laying there thinking about everything I need to accomplish the next day. If I can manage to fall asleep before 1:30 though, I’ll still get in a full 8 hours, which is great.

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It may sound like we sleep in and stay up late but this is actually a pretty normal schedule here. There are absolutely no people on the streets (and no businesses open) until 10 or 11am each day and the restaurants are all pretty busy until 11 or 12 at night. Spain is turning out to be a perfect place and culture to fit US business hours into a European life.

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