Remote Working Works for Freelancers
Photo by paveitapics.
As a creative professional, constant inspiration is vital to career success. Sure, home and agency studios can be stimulating, but regardless of how cool the fitout is, it’s still the same environment.
It gets boring.
You’ll need a change, and relocating to a park or co-working space for a fresh outlook is a great idea. Checking out art galleries and city architecture during a lunch break is even better.
Traveling and working from the road? It’s the best of all. After remote working for three months, here’s the story so far — from the coast of Costa Rica.
Preparing to work from the road is about more than ensuring you have enough leads and contacts to ensure you’ll be busy enough. More importantly, it’s about switching your back-office processes into autopilot so you can afford to be as hands-off as possible. Skellie’s popular web worker series references some excellent resources to make this happen, but a business support network of trusted professionals, such as accountants, book keepers and tax advisors will be even more critical to your remote working success. Without such expertise on hand, making the correct financial decisions abroad can be difficult.
Other travellers have often made jokes about my mobile ‘office’, which consists solely of a laptop and iPhone. Most of us require laptops to work remotely, unless using remote access to a home-based machine via such web tools as GoToMyPC. Obviously my laptop is the tool that I use to generate my income, but having an iPhone or other wifi-enabled smartphone on hand is invaluable for quickly checking email and other updates on the go. The ability to easily check in and know where business is at without unpacking a laptop is not only efficient, but it provides a meaningful activity for the countless times I find myself stuck in transit without time to set up my laptop.
A valuable backup tool is a large USB drive with Firefox Portable installed — super handy when I’m near computers and need to use the Internet but don’t have my ‘office’ with me. Using Firefox Portable means that all of my personal browsing information and cache is stored on the USB drive rather than the local memory of the computer I’m using, which makes using public computers far more secure. Furthermore, it means I can have my bookmarks and saved passwords with me at all times, which results in less time spent in front of the screen and more time enjoying local cultures.
Without getting too involved in the numerous online applications I use to run my business remotely, it’s worth mentioning that project management (Basecamp), invoicing (Blinksale), email (Gmail) and Internet banking are the cornerstones of the operation. Aspiring remote workers can take comfort in knowing that similar tools are also the cornerstones of typical businesses. Whilst I’m working remotely, none of my management processes have changed in the slightest. It’s only my physical location that differs. Now that you realize this, what are you waiting for?
Now on to the fun stuff. After three months away from my familiar environment, I’m convinced that traveling is the best activity for idea generation and creative thinking. My travels thus far have taken me through Thailand, the USA, Mexico and now Costa Rica, and countless cities and towns have exposed me to cultures, art, design, sustainable living, experiences, people and architecture that, when combined, form a rich personal library of inspiration and ideas. Not only is this exceptionally valuable for those of us in the consulting services industry, but also for product development, journalism, international studies, and too many other fields to mention.
A Healthy Change
I’m twittering less. I’m sweeping through RSS feeds fortnightly instead of daily. Most emails now abide by the five.sentenc.es rule. I have more time. I’m creating more. My newly discovered low information diet is one of the best career moves I’ve made, and is now in place simply because there are too many other amazing things to do whilst traveling. My work time is more focused, more inspired, and strangely I find less distractions. I’m simply ‘getting it done’ without a need for following GTD rules or using a series of trays and files. I’m just doing it, and doing it better than I’ve done before.
I’m writing this just before my second surf for the day, which will conclude with the sun dipping low into the Pacific and palm trees becoming silhouettes against a darkening sky. Dinner will be enjoyed with new friends, and will probably consist of a traditional Costa Rican dinner and local cerveza. Being away from the rush of the city life has given me time to stop and smell the roses, and damn, they smell good. I’ve got a better appreciation of the most important things in life, which is helping me to develop not only as a consultant, but as a person. Remote working has not only improved my work life but my personal life, and, obviously, I highly recommended it.
Take the plunge and join the mobile workforce. You won’t regret it.