HOW TO WORK FROM ANYWHERE
For lots of people, the idea of combining travel with work is pretty much the dream. Or at least, for me it is: I've made most of my professional decisions (and plenty of sacrifices) to ensure that I can pick up and work from almost anywhere I please. As I write this from an overpriced coffee shop in Brooklyn, thousands of miles from my home base, I can say that the plan is working out. Mostly.
Thing is, building a location-independent career is not quite as easy, productive, or even fun as it sounds. The concept of working on the road is one that I'm going to explore more in future posts, but for now, I'd thought I'd share some basic principles for staying on top of work when you're away from home - as much as a reminder to myself as anything else.
PREPARE YOUR TOOLS
Think about the equipment you use on a daily basis and figure out the most efficient way of transporting it all. I would highly recommend investing in a Macbook Air if you travel a lot - it will save you on osteopathy bills in the future. You'll also need a good work bag that fits your chargers, notebooks etc., and won't dig into your shoulders. I'm yet to find one, but a multi-compartment tote like this one would probably do the job. Take one notebook/planner only!
After you've got your physical tools together, think about your tech. Download any apps you might need to make things easier while you're on the road - offline maps, transport planners, translation tools - and call up your mobile phone provider to buy a roaming plan. It's much cheaper to buy a data allowance than tell yourself you won't use any, and then inevitably find yourself needing to book an Uber/retrieve an email at great expense. FAO: US readers - T Mobile offers free data roaming. Yes, really, and no, I'm not getting a commission for telling you that (but I should be).
SET YOUR GOALS BEFORE YOU GO
Travelling can send your head into a spin, making it hard to remember what you're supposed to be doing, and when. If you're heading off for a week or more, it's worth spending a couple of hours making a master list of all the things you need to stay on top of during your trip. This will help you to stay sane when you wake up on a Tuesday morning with no idea where you are.
CREATE MINI RITUALS
Getting into 'work mode' is hard enough when you're at home with your own coffee maker and Papermate pen assortment nearby; let alone when you're sitting on the sofa in a random Air BnB, or working from a noisy cafe. Wherever I go, I try to quickly establish some semblance of a work routine, even if it only covers the first few hours of the day. Doing this helps me to stay on top my workload (or at least maintain the illusion of doing so) when every other aspect of my schedule has gone out the window.
I'll usually locate a coffee shop nearby wherever I'm staying and use it as my 'office' throughout the trip. By starting my day in the same place - somewhere with reliable WiFi and a freelancer-friendly vibe - I can concentrate on the stuff that needs to get done without having to Google 'Coffee Wifi' multiple times a day.
REDEFINE WHAT WORK MEANS
I'm writing this from New York City, where I've spent the past nine days. Being here can sometimes feel like one long whirl of meetings and events, without any time to do 'real' work. But then I remember that all of that running around is a big part of what work is all about in NYC - connecting, sharing ideas and making plans. It's the kind of work you can't really get done in Los Angeles, but that doesn't make it any less important than the type you do on your own in a quiet room. Freelance life is about striking a balance between connection, inspiration, and creation; it's important to allow yourself the space to seek out all three.
LET YOURSELF LIVE
Speaking of which... What's the use in building a location-independent career if you're not going to enjoy it at least some of the time? I often feel guilty about veering away from my usual work schedule to check out a museum or neighbourhood, but there's really no point in chaining yourself to a coffee shop table if you're in a new or exciting part of the world. Carve out time everyday for your freelance projects, get your shit done, and then go out to explore. Making time for new experiences is really what freelance life is all about.