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Why Moving Abroad is the Best Work Hack Ever

Why Moving Abroad is the Best Work Hack Ever

It seems crazy, doesn’t it? You pack up and leave the bulls eye of business in America for the sole purpose of growing your company in the Latin tropics. Who does that? Why leave the glistening sidewalks of Wall Street for steamy rain forest mountain trails? It sounds like insanity, but then again, most brilliance starts out that way.

More entrepreneurs are embracing exactly this strategy. Why? Because they found a new culture was just the catalyst to create the right conditions to launch their best work and mental creativity.

Do You Want to Live Like a Millionaire?

Why do you think millionaires are so successful? Of course there are many factors, but once people reach a certain status, they stop doing more basic, time-wasting activities and pay others to fulfill this necessity.  They stop engaging in household cleaning, cooking, gardening, and driving. They leverage their brain power on their business instead of scrubbing the toilet.  Most people in America don’t think twice about the time that they spend on driving and domestic duties, but when you add up all that time, it can take up a huge portion of your life. Just imagine if you could turn that time into business equity?

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In other countries, domestic help isn’t just for the upper class; it’s common among the middle class. In the Latin tropics, no one thinks twice about hiring cooks, maids, gardeners, or drivers. This is a large part of the local economy. Think of all the extra time this would free up to work on a business venture!  In Central America, you can hire someone to cook, get your groceries, run your errands, and clean for you for about $300 per month. If you really wanted to go crazy, you could hire a driver for another $300 per month to drive you to your appointments so you could focus on work from the car.

With these mentally and physically-draining jobs eliminated from your life, imagine what you could accomplish if you could focus on your business 100% of the time! For example, if you move to Belize, you can have full-time domestic help take over all the household duties for $350 per month on average. While the cost of living in Belize can vary depending on your lifestyle choices, you can live comfortably for much less than living in the US in most cases, including the cost of full-time help. You can hire a live-in maid in Panama for about the same monthly cost as Belize, including the expenses of providing room and board. If you want to simply pay them by the day, it comes out to about $3 to $5 per hour.

You can also hire the same level of domestic help in Costa Rica for about $15 per day. Guatemala can help you stay under budget while still paying a maid to handle the cooking and cleaning for around $150 per month.

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Or, consider Nicaragua, where the cost of a maid or gardener runs about $130 per month for a six-day work week. Ecuador has a low cost of living, and is a beautiful country where you can enjoy fresh fruits and full-time domestic service for about $200 per month. So, when you move to the Latin tropics, you really can live and work like a millionaire, but on a middle-class salary.

You’re Doing What? Are You Crazy?

When I moved to my tropical paradise, I left a very stable job in a strong blue-chip company. I felt a bit guilty and terrified that I was giving up my career, as it was a very valued position. However, it was only when I left the rat race of trading my time for money that I was finally able to really invest in myself enough to launch my own business. Many of my friends thought I was crazy. While it wasn’t an especially fuzzy feeling to experience, I also found it freeing to not be bound by other people’s expectations. Once you move to another country and oceans separate the disapproving glances, you tend not to pay attention to them anymore.

When you do something as drastic as moving to a foreign country, you will rock the boat; but sometimes it’s the only way to move your ship out of the harbor. In the tropical palm-tree paradise, I could finally clear my head enough to understand what I really wanted to do with my life. All the noise of my past life just stopped, and I could finally hear the tiny inner voice of my own desires empowered enough to speak out again.

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Get Ready to Get Uncomfortable!

When you move to another country, you will be forced out of your comfort zone, and everyone knows that’s where the magic really happens. You will no longer have family, friends, or security to lull you to complacency or talk you out of that crazy cutting-edge concept. You will be forced to learn another culture, maybe another language, perhaps drive on a different side of the road, taste new foods and experiences, and will be living a life outside of your previous perspective.

It’s like if an eagle were to hatch in a pasture and grow up around sheep. He’s comfortable, but won’t know his full potential until he discovers the pasture isn’t where he belongs, but in the air. It’s only when he takes on the different median by jumping off a cliff that he can truly soar and experience a new perspective. When you leave the world of cushy job titles, expectations, deadlines, and noise, your creativity is often unlocked and your new-found business mojo can brainstorm more conceptions than you ever dreamed possible.

Clean the Crud Out of Your Filter!

We all see the world through our own experience filter created by years of normality. Imagine if everyone had different shades of sunglasses and filtered each experience through their own judgement tinting. Experiencing only a small part of the world and staying comfortable limits your perspective and can cloud your vision.

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Moving to a new country is a great way to sweep away all of the unproductive things in your life and start fresh in your expectations, habits, and interactions. It’s like you’re given a transparent window to suddenly see everything clearly enough to craft the productive life you’ve always wanted.  First, no one knows you; so there are no old ghosts reminding you of your past, no expectations of how you’re suppose to behave, and no mold you have to fit into. Second, it’s enough of a lifestyle shock to clear away bad habits.

Maybe in your old life, you wasted your time on television or video games. Use the jolt of new adventure to create an improved version of yourself. What better time to begin reading books and working on entrepreneurial ideas on the beach, instead of vegging on the couch with potato chips watching television? Or, start feeding your brain by making fresh smoothies for breakfast with the abundance of tropical fruits instead of grabbing the Krispy Kreme on the way out the door (they probably aren’t available in your new country anyway).

Instead of spending your evenings eating popcorn at a movie theater with friends, start doing barefoot runs on the beach, watch the glorious sunset over the sea, and listen to the sounds of the night awakenings to inspire you to craft your next big idea. The slower pace of the tropics often helps you focus more on your own inward brilliance.

Third, when you leave your old country, you find yourself pulled away from previous relationships and pushed into the networking mentality. You can meet so many new and interesting people by simply being forced out of your old social circles and investing time on new connections that benefit your business. Changing your life really can be that simple, yet that profound. There is a lot of value in a blank slate, as you don’t need to worry about coloring inside any lines.

So What’s Stopping You?

There are many excuses you can craft to talk yourself out of such a drastic move. After all, it’s scary leaving the familiar to embrace such a different life. Others may even see you as dangerously drastic and just south of crazy. However, the house, car, and stuff can be sold. It’s actually not that hard to let it go, and selling all your junk can make you feel fantastically free. You really can quit that soul-sucking job you dread going to everyday and focus your time on the creation of your dream career. Moving to the Latin tropics can breathe new life into your business by giving you fresh vision, help you break free of old baggage, and create additional time in your day by paying others to help you live and work like a millionaire. It may just be the most epic work hack ever!

More by this author

Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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