As a professional freelancer, I spend a lot of time thinking about the structure of nontraditional work. As a traveler, I spend even more time thinking about strategies for merging these two integral parts of my identity: the freelancer and the adventurer.
I won’t admit to having it all figured out. There are financial and personal reasons that keep me from taking off on a round-the-world trip at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a good amount of time working from the road. Whether I am visiting my parents for a few days, traveling to another city for a conference, or on the other side of the world, I am always trying to take advantage of the freedom freelancing can provide.
However, working while traveling comes with its own set of difficulties. The lack of external structure that comes with the freelancing life is magnified for me when away from home. Last month, I gave you four strategies for combatting that effect. Here are four more…
Lists are your friends.
Lists are key — at least for me. Image by Flickr user davidd.
I have the drive of a Type A person, and the organizational skill of a Type B person. (I may be jinxing myself here, but I am legitimately surprised I have yet to lose my passport on a trip.) For me, the cure to this identity dichotomy is in making lists. I have a note permanently open on my computer desktop, and whenever I think of anything I need to get done — no matter how seemingly trivial or impossible to forget — I add it to the list. This simple practice has made my life infinitely better.
Don’t manage time — manage energy.
Timepieces on display at the British Museum. Image by Kayti Burt.
I am still learning the intricate art of time management, but this framework has helped me to better utilize my productivity: Think about it in terms of energy, not time. As an introvert and relatively low-energy person, energy is often a problem for me. This is especially true on the road, when it can be harder to find alone time to recharge.
Be honest with yourself about how much energy you have to complete a task. If it’s not enough, find a way to recharge — with a nap, going for a walk, or reading a book.
Just do it.
Working hard while visiting my brother in Cleveland. Image by Kayti Burt.
Of course, honesty works both ways. Sometimes, you need to be honest with yourself about avoiding tasks for no good reason. Sometimes, you just need to sit down in front of your computer and get stuff done. Often, the getting started part is half the battle. Once I am in work mode, momentum tends to take.
Remember how lucky you are.
Getting some writing done in Thailand. Image by Sarah Poekert.
Freelancing may be hard work, but it isn’t without its perks. I may not have the financial security that comes with other jobs or the usual trappings of motivation, but I don’t have to take time off from work to visit friends and new places. I can wear leggings every day. And the process of learning how to properly and consistently motivate myself has been an exercise in personal growth and empowerment.
When I am dealing with the difficulties of blogging from the road, I try not to forget how lucky I am to be doing something I love in a way that I love. This helps.