Those of us who are location independent (ie. can live and work wherever we choose) can attest to the fact that working and travelling can provide an added level of stress, particularly when you have deadlines to stick to in your creative business.
There is a delicate balance that needs to be maintained in order to get your shit done and also enjoy exploring a new place; a balance that can sometimes be difficult to achieve if you haven’t done any pre-planning and put some thought into how you’re going to get the work done that you need to and still see the sights of the place you’re visiting.
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A Piece of Advice
If you’re thinking about heading into a location independent lifestyle, one piece of advice I will give you before you by that plane ticket is this:
If at all possible, aim to stay in one place for at least 2-3 weeks. This one thing will greatly improve your productivity and will make your life just a little easier, as you'll see below.
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The tips below will also be much easier to achieve if you’re not constantly travelling. Although it's possible to still be productive when you’re moving around more, it will require a certain level of discipline.
So be honest with yourself from the outset. Decide up front which type of trip you plan to have – time spent in one place for a few weeks at a time, or flitting from location to location every 3-5 days.
#1: Focus on deliverables rather than time schedules
This allows you to figure out what you need to do and how long that’s going to take. It means that one day could be spent working, and then the next day could be spent exploring.
The key is sticking to whatever it is you set up. You need to be disciplined in doing this in order to be productive. (This tip is from Chris Guillebeau, a very seasoned traveler who gets plenty of stuff done while on the road!)
#2: Make it a habit
If you’re a freelance writer, commit to writing something every single day, no matter whether you’re travelling or not. Often, just committing to writing one sentence per day is enough to start the ball rolling.
I find that if I can write one sentence, it’s far easier to write a paragraph and then in no time, an article or ebook is written.
#3: Reward yourself
Whether that’s reading your favourite magazine or watching your favourite TV show, find what will motivate you.
If you’re travelling, it could also be tied to visiting a new restaurant or allowing yourself a few hours to explore the location you’re in, over and above what you've already got happening.
#4: Check-in with yourself regularly
If you find yourself unmotivated to work on a particular project or just not feeling like working at all, ask yourself these questions:
- “What is the issue: the project or how I’m feeling?”
- “What do I feel like working on instead?” etc.
Sometimes, you may not be able to work just on what you want to. However, you can prioritise better by understanding this.
Get the un-motivating stuff out of the way. Then you can work on the things that motivate you instead. That's what I do and it works.
#5: Find spaces that allow you to focus
What works for me is a busy, loud coffee shop. It forces me to focus on my writing. I tend to get distracted when I’m in a hotel room or my home office.
A key to being productive with working and travelling is your own ability to focus in places that most people wouldn’t be able to.
Make sure you’re able to focus in spaces that you’ll be exposed to more when travelling, such as coffee shops, hotel rooms and airport terminals.
Find what works for you and go there when you need to get your stuff done.
The ability to shut out the outside world and get your stuff done is essential to successfully working while travelling.
For me, when I’m travelling I make sure I’m staying in one place for at least 2-3 weeks at a time and I make sure that there are coffee shops in close proximity to where I’m staying.
I sort out my schedule ahead of time. I’m aware of what needs to be done by when.
While I don’t always schedule everything into my calendar, I do put in deadlines. This way, I can take each day as it comes, while also being mindful of deadlines; of what’s required of me and by when — it's kinda like working backwards.
I can structure each day as I want — and in most cases, I’ll work the mornings and explore in the afternoons.
What about you, how do you manage your time and be productive with work while travelling? Leave your tips in the comments below!
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