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The Freedom to Travel Anywhere, Anytime Without Getting Fired

The Freedom to Travel Anywhere, Anytime Without Getting Fired

travel

    It was the 28th of January this year, early in the morning. My wife had just pushed me out of bed so I’d get ready in time for our flight. It wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, but I was nervous: this was the first time I was going to be working full-time hours without access to my office or my main working computer. Despite all the time I’d spent either freelancing or working from home, the only times I’d ever traveled, I’d left the work at home.

    It’s pretty nerve-wracking at first: what if I leave important project files at home and forget to copy them to the laptop or the server? What if the wireless broadband plan I signed up for doesn’t have any coverage in the areas where I’ll be staying? Years of working from my office, my fixed base, had instilled a whole lot of fears in my mind about the idea of not being able to access it.

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    The truth is, such fears are unfounded. It’s a fear of freedom, especially when you’re not used to it. Don’t get me wrong, I had the option all along — but I’d never exercised it. In this case, I was travelling to Melbourne, which isn’t even leaving the country, and I was only going for two weeks. When I consider that two of the directors at Envato where I work have been successfully remote working around the world for longer than I’ve been working for them, my trip was barely a drop of water in the ocean and there was no legitimacy to my fears.

    So I was going to ask the question: have you created the freedom to travel anywhere, anytime without getting fired? But perhaps a better question to start with is: do you have the guts to accept freedom and do something with it?

    Cut a Deal with the Boss

    Unless you work for yourself, or you’re employed but working from home, the toughest part about obtaining the freedom to work from wherever you want can be the company you work for. Generally it’s a good idea to work up to remote working — don’t start there. Start with telecommuting. Ask your boss for permission to work from home just a day or two per week and once you’re boss is more comfortable with what you’re doing and has seen that you’re doing well — preferably even better — when you work from home, it shouldn’t be hard to convince him or her that you don’t need to come in at all. If it does prove difficult, Tim Ferriss makes some recommendations for convincing managers that telecommuting is a good idea in his book “The 4-Hour Workweek”.

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    It’s probably best that you work from home successfully for a decent amount of time — minimally a month — before approaching your boss again and letting them know you’d like to travel while working. This could be a harder pill for them to swallow, but if you’ve been doing well from home for a sustained period of time you’ve got some credibility behind your request. You could perhaps offer to start with a two day or five day trip to somewhere relatively close — within half a day’s driving distance to the office — before embarking on any real trips.

    Better yet, get out of the rat race! Start a business (whether it’s freelance or otherwise) and make yourself the boss. Sure, it’s still a race, but you’ll no longer be the rat — you can make decisions for yourself, something surprisingly few adults are able to do and many children are disappointed to discover as they grow up.

    Synchronize Your Life

    Once you’re able to get up and go whenever you want without a horde of managers on your tail, you should take steps to make sure your information resources are truly mobile. That means you need to start focusing on centralizing your files. For many of us who are used to residing in one location, keeping some files on the desktop computer and some on the laptop is not a problem. It’s a bit disorganized, but it’s easy to grab any file you need especially with a decent wi-fi network.

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    If you want to have the freedom to stay at home one week and run off to New Zealand next week, you’ll need a better plan and system than that. The most important principle of your system shouldn’t actually be labelling and easy rediscovery — though they are still important and deserve attention — but in fact, centralization. You should be able to access your project files for work from anywhere.

    There are a variety of solutions out there. You could use Dropbox, which aside from just being a cloud storage and backup service also has cool features like revision tracking. If you use Macs, MobileMe comes with both iDisk (online backup and storage space) and Back to My Mac capabilities. For Back to My Mac to be useful it requires you to keep the home computer on while you’re travelling, which could pose a fire risk and a needlessly high electricy bill.

    As for what I did during my travels: I am an anal retentive file-filer, so I just dragged my “Work” folder onto an external hard drive I was bringing along. That Work folder had every single file pertinent to any work I was doing whether as an employee or for my freelance holdouts. At least 75% of my work stuff is in Gmail anyway, so I was pretty safe if I lost the hard drive.

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    Get Wireless

    I bought a 3 Mobile Broadband USB stick with 12GB of data on it. This proved useful in Melbourne and will prove useful again in June when I move interstate and will be without true broadband for a few weeks. My point is that getting wireless broadband is a smart and convenient move whether or not you plan to travel — I did not expect to be moving interstate when I bought mine but it’ll save my life (and my job) when I do get off that plane.

    I can’t comment on the offerings in the US or anywhere else in the world other than to say: I hope your coverage is better than Australia’s. If you’re going to metropolitan areas you’ll be right. Remote working as a whole can be iffy in rural areas, because some of them are struggling to get even dial-up connectivity.

    Ideally, mobile broadband should be a backup plan. On my trip I was lucky to have wi-fi networks within range most of the time. Try to stay in a hotel, house or tent with its own connection. I should warn that at this time tents don’t usually come with broadband!

    Get on a Plane

    … or a bike, surfboard, car, bus or pink rollerblades. If you’ve dealt with the human implications, got your files together, got Internet access sorted, then all you need to do is go! Enjoy some freedom. Don’t allow yourself to be imprisoned by geography.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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