How to Make Remote Working Work for You
I am writing this from a beautiful cafe in Ubud, Bali. I’m now a fully fledged digital nomad. Remote working - or workationing - has been part of my dream for my life and work since I left full-time employment in mid-2017. And I’m not the only one. One study suggest 50% of US workers will be able to work remotely by 2020.
Workation, (noun) – a working vacation, where you go to an exotic location and complete specific tasks or accomplish a goal before you leave. Workationing isn’t about taking a vacation from work. Workationing is about fully immersing yourself in your work while also building in ways to pamper yourself and unwind so you can be even more effective and productive. And digital nomads are reportedly 13% more productive than their in-office counterparts.
How do you make it work for you?
Set yourself structure
Whether it’s managing time zones - no 2am work calls thank you very much - or figuring out how to fit in beachtime, a massage, dinner at your favourite raw food cafe, workshops, oh and some actual work, structure is your friend.
This is critical, whether you are in one place for a few days or a few months.
We all need some sense structure and stability into order to be creative and productive. And that means some sort of routine. I start by days in the same way here with a two-hour ritual of yoga, meditation, reading and journaling. I schedule work for no more than 4-6 hours a day - it’s incredible how focused you can be when you have so many other wonderful things you want to do with your time. And I only schedule calls with the UK (where I normally live) two evenings a week. I’m not really taking weekends here, preferring to work for 2-3 days followed by a day off - although every couple of weeks, I’m making sure I take 3-4 days off completely.
Without this, I know I would be feeling lost and unfocused. When I first arrived, I had to remind myself that this is not a holiday. Of course I want to enjoy all the wonderful things that Bali has to offer. And I’m here to work. So I need to manage my energy in order to do both.
Go with the flow
I see structure like a framework or a container. Something to hold all that creative energy in place. Which means, within that framework, I get to go with the flow. And it’s so important especially somewhere like Bali where opportunities and people come out of nowhere.
It’s all about having a strong plan and holding it lightly.
For me, that means having some things that are non-negotiable - like my morning rituals. Others, I can flex over the course of the week. So, when the opportunity to spend the day with that hot guy comes up, I can confidently say yes and know that I can pick up work later in the week. This approach also allows me to follow my energy every day. Of course, this also means not over-scheduling my time so there is flex and space to rearrange things.
At the start of each month, I get clear about what I want to achieve. Each week, I then break that down into what I want to work on. Then each day, knowing how I feel and what else is going on, I can select the 2-3 big things I want to work on that day.
FOMO - fear of missing out - is always a threat wherever you are in the world and even more so here in Ubud where there are yoga classes, dance classes, workshops and more every hour of the day. So it’s really important to make clear, deliberate choices - otherwise I would just spend all day being indecisive and worrying about regret.
I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what I wanted to get out of this experience and having these clear in my mind is really helping me make decisions and enjoy this journey:
Headspace. I want to take advantage of being away from the noise and busyness of London to work on my business strategy for 2019. I want to go home with clarity and confidence about what I’m doing and where the business is going for the rest of the year.
Spiritual Growth. A significant relationship ended for me about a year ago. That relationship has shown me a lot of old patterns that are no longer serving me that I want to let go of. So, I’m using the time and energy here to do a lot of personal development and connect with healers.
Experiment. This is my first experience of being a digital nomad so this is also an experiment in whether it works for me and how I make it work best. I also want to try new practices and skills - whether that’s acro yoga or doing Facebook Lives. There’s something about being in a new environment that makes me feel more relaxed about trying new things.
Find your vibe and tribe
Life can be challenging, even in paradise. Especially in paradise. So, it’s important not to go it alone.
Of course I’m still connected with friends and family back home. And this is the perfect opportunity to connect with new people.
I chose to come to Ubud specifically because of the type of people here. Ubud is known for being home to a lot of spiritual nomads, yoga practitioners, and an active conscious community. All attributes I know I want more of. But maybe surfers, hipsters and techies are more your thing (in which case, I would suggest Canggu!). One of the wonderful thing about being a digital nomad is that you can go find your tribe - find the people that inspire you and speak your language.
We are the average of the five people we spend most time with so remote working is the perfect opportunity to pick those people with care. It makes the journey so much more enjoyable, supported and interesting.