Picture this: You’ve worked hard the last several months, built up a successful freelance business and have just given your boss the pink slip.
You’re now able to work from anywhere.
And you dictate your schedule, not your employer. You can work when you feel like, whether it’s from your home, the coffee shop, the beach or a hotel lobby.
You’ve made it. You’re in control. This is the point of arrival, right?
Yes. For many, having control over their time and schedule is the point of arrival. But like anything in life, it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges.
Currently, I’m writing this from my new home office (reveal post to come next month!), but I’ve worked everywhere from San Fransisco during a vacation with friends, my parent’s cabin when we just wanted a change of pace and scenery and for two months while we stayed in Texas earlier this year.
I’ve also worked in coffee shops, libraries, parking lots and even the local bar up north. Hey, sometimes you have to do what you have to do!
Suffice it to say, I’ve learned a trick or two in the past couple of years. And today, I want to share with you my four best tips to help you work from anywhere more efficiently. Let’s dig in!
1. Internet Is King
When working from the road, on vacation or just for a change of pace, a reliable internet connection is important.
I didn’t have a smartphone for the first 14 months I was building my online business – gasp, I know! And even after I got one, I didn’t understand its full capability.
For example, I found out (on the drive HOME from Texas) that I could use my hotspot to power my laptop WHILE driving. Cool, huh? Note that your connection will be stronger in urban areas and not so much in the country.
Once I figured this out though, it made long days in the car SO much easier/more pleasant. The time passes so much more quickly and mama doesn’t have to work once we reach our destination. Win/win!
Pro tip: Wait until you have wifi to download programs or large files. I totally busted my data plan downloading Google Docs for offline use on my new laptop in the car once…
While you won’t need internet to do all of your work (see tip #2), you will probably need it to schedule posts, check email, host video calls, etc. So make sure you have a decent connection anywhere you’re staying long-term and a backup plan (like your hotspot or a local coffee shop) in place.
2. Use Google Drive to Work Offline
Dude, if you’re NOT using the Google Tools Suite yet, you’re cray-cray.
Google is amazing (way better than Apple, cuz they make all their good stuff FREE!) and pretty darn robust to boot. I use Google for everything from my search engine, to email, calendaring, storing docs on the cloud, writing first drafts, chatting with my peers, video calling, etc.
There’s a “Googalized” version of almost everything and again, they make it all FREE! Enough of my soapbox though, let’s talk about using Google Drive to work offline.
Google Drive is an online filing system. It’s basically an online version of Microsoft Office (Docs = Word, Sheets = Excel, Slides = Powerpoint) and is compatible with Office (and Mac I think).
The best thing is that again, it’s FREE and can be accessed offline. So even though you store files via the cloud, you can access them when you’re not online, make changes and have them update and re-saved once you have internet access again.
I love using Google Docs to collaborate on projects with people too. It’s easy for others to make changes (which are updated in real-time) and you only need to share the file once – not after every change has been made. You can also suggest edits, make comments and see the history of changes.
The main reason that I list Google Drive as a tip though, is that you can write offline. i.e. you can draft blog posts, sales copy, email newsletters and more without having to have internet access. And you can also upload pdfs to your Drive while online and read them while offline.
Pro tip: Save all of those freebies you download in their own Google Drive folder to read in the car when you have nothing better to do!
Lastly, I love that you can use the Google Tools Suite from ANY computer. So if something’s wrong with yours (I just sent my new laptop back to be serviced as something is wonky with the hard drive), you can borrow your spouse’s, hop on the hotel’s desktop or commandeer an extra device you have lying around.
And you won’t have lost any of your work! Total win/win!
3. Plan Your Week in Advance
I use Trello to do this personally and it helps immensely.
One of the best things I did at the beginning of this year was to schedule all calls/meetings on the same day of the week. I.e. I take calls/meetings primarily on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
It’s not perfect, but for the most part I know that Mondays and Wednesdays are the days that I get stuff done. I can get the bulk of my writing completed or work on a new sales funnel or something. I love going into these days feeling like I have a blank slate.
I also keep a running log of content that needs to be written or tasks that I need to complete in that particular month. I then backfill some of each column into the coming week to pre-plan what I’m going to accomplish. I try to keep any given day between 5-10 appointments or tasks.
Pro tip: Pre-plan your week on Sunday nights, prior to the week beginning. You’ll feel calmer and more organized on Monday mornings, which gives you an advantage on your week!
By keeping calls to certain days of the week and pre-planning my weeks, it’s easier for me to know what has to get done and shift things around as needed when plans change. I.e. when we were in Texas I knew that I could join my family at the pool on Mondays and Wednesdays. Or we could take a day trip to the dunes or something on those days of the week.
4. Bookend Your Days with Email
I know that every expert and their mom tells you NOT to start your day with email, but I’ve found it to be just about impossible in my business.
Mainly because I have to do it for my three VA clients, so I just lump mine in there as well. But because it’s a rock and I treat myself as a client, I’m in the mindset of processing it quickly, rather than letting it derail my day.
Since I have planned times to check my email, I often close that tab when I’m working on client work or a post for my own site (which I’m doing right now). If I don’t have it open, I’m much less tempted to get distracted by checking it or writing a quick reply. And weirdly, checking my email AFTER completing said task feels like some sort of reward for getting it done!
Checking email is the last thing that I do each day, which allows me to tweak my schedule for the next day or the rest of the week. It also helps me to leave each day with a bit of closure. Anything that happens from then until the morning when I start work again is game off.
Pro tip: If you’re having trouble finding the time to write for your own blog or make progress on a personal writing project like a course, start your day by writing instead. Don’t allow yourself to check your email until after your write your 1,000 words or this week’s blog post. For many, the morning is the best time for writing and knowing that checking your email is at the end of the tunnel provides enough motivation to get er done!
When you’re working from anywhere, I’ve found it’s helpful to bookend your days with email. Often, that’s how we’re communicating with clients, turning in assignments, etc. So processing email first and last thing ensures that nothing’s missed and allows you to tie it all up in a pretty bow at the end of the day.
Being able to work from anywhere really is a point of arrival. Controlling your own schedule and not having to request vacation is pretty effing cool!
But working from anywhere also comes with its own unique set of challenges. You have to ensure that you have reliable internet access, find ways to work offline, manage your schedule and ensure you can keep in touch with clients and prospects.
But having internet backup plans, using Google Drive, pre-planning your days and weeks and bookending your days checking email should help. It’s what works for me, whether I’m working in my new home office, at the cabin or traveling halfway across the country for an extended winter vacation.
If you currently work from anywhere, what tips do you have to add?