I have been location independent since 2019. According to McKinsey, remote and location independent work is on the rise. It has increased four to five times in 2021 than before the pandemic. Now that virtual meetings can happen, business travels aren't likely to go as high as before.
“Location-independent” refers to a career or job that doesn't require you to be in a specific, physical location. I, for example, can do a lot of work as a coach and facilitator online. Thereby, I can make a living from anywhere in the world, as long as I have a fast internet connection.
If your family and job circumstances allow it, this can be a great opportunity to live and work abroad for some time. A chance to get to know a new culture, language and lifestyle. I have been living in Portugal for a while now, and very much enjoy exploring a new way of working.
In this checklist, I share my personal 5 tips for remote and location independent working, especially for empaths or highly sensitive people.
1. How to find accommodation
When I moved to Lisbon, I found someone in a Facebook group who rents apartments only to remote workers. It was in the best central location of Lisbon, with an optimal office set-up.
Search for Facebook groups with key words like “Expats in...” or “short-term/long-term accommodation in ...”. Airbnb has now shifted its focus from short-stay accommodation to long-term rentals too. Some properties are available for a month or more, for getaways and workcations. It is an option worth exploring. The Nomad List website lists the best cities to live and work for digital nomads. The ratings are based on costs of living, weather, internet quality, safety and much more.
2. Use your excellent relationship building skills
If possible, before you visit and work in a new country or city, connect with some locals. They can recommend where to go, areas to live and whom to contact. When I was in Athens, I discovered the startup scene through a local friend. A former colleague of mine arranged a driver for me in Bali, and we became really good friends. She showed me places I would have never discovered on my own.
When you arrive in a new city, or even in the countryside, sit in the local coffee shop, interact and ask questions. Listen to the local radio and find other remote workers online who live close to you. All friends who have visited me in Portugal and even my local friends know that I have discovered great cozy spots here. Places where people know my name and I feel at home.
3. Plan time and calculate extra energy to fully arrive in a new place
When I moved to Portugal and arrived at night, I had a very important virtual workshop right on the next morning. A big mistake! I hadn't had time to fully set up with a LAN cable, etc., was very worried during the session and my WiFi was very wobbly.
Every time, I underestimate the energy it takes to fully arrive in a new environment. Sleeping in a new bed, or the first time going to the supermarket. Figuring out where everything is, unpacking, making myself at home, etc . If you think you will be productive from day 1, good luck to you! If possible, I recommend you take a couple of days off work at the beginning. It will help you to ease the transition and allow yourself to arrive.
4. Invest into your workspace
Your working environment is so important. It is where you spend a lot of time. I have worked on kitchen tables, in no-window co-working cubbyholes, in a noisy café where the internet was unstable. I started to have pain in my right arm, aching shoulders from sitting on shitty chairs. No more! Even if it costs you time and money, make sure before you travel to clarify the infrastructure of your apartment or room.
When you arrive, either find a good co-working space or set up an area for working in your temporary home. Invest in a plant, set yourself up where you have natural light and a nice view. Use noise cancelling headphones and an ergonomic mouse. Buy a portable international WiFi hotspot as backup, a second large screen and a comfortable chair. See if you can work standing up, too.
Nothing is more unproductive than constantly finding a new place to work and moving from one café to another. Working in your bedroom or in the kitchen can also disturb your free time and ability to unplug from work. You can sell things if you leave again (in Portugal: https://www.olx.pt) or donate it to the local charity.
5. Create routines
Routines give us structure. And we need lots of structure for remote working, especially when self-employed. Ask yourself what helps you to feel at your best. What distracts you? What routines do you need to keep focused?
Empaths can easily feel emotionally drained and exhausted. Or, they may be absorbing stress and negativity from others. Routines and structures can help you take good care of your own energy. Working remotely can mean less distractions and more silence. It can give you the opportunity to listen to your focus music playlist.
For me it is important to live and work close to a yoga studio and to have access to healthy food. I also want to be able to go for a walk in nature. As I work from the apartment I live in, I like to get out in the morning and afternoon to re-energize. It helps me to go to sleep and wake up more or less at the same time every day, also on the weekend. I do sports in the morning to wake up and I try to disconnect from all technology/ blue light at least one hour before I go to bed.
I work with the 6 minute success journal to plan the most impactful task, to do’s and self-care/relax time for most days. For project management I use Trello. Mornings are for focused work. Afternoons for coaching calls, writing and social interaction, like meeting someone for a (virtual) coffee.
If I have days where I feel tired or depleted and I don’t have fixed meetings or workshops, I cut myself slack. I take more time for myself, call a friend, go to the beach or discover a new place, read a book, etc . This freedom of mostly owning my own schedule supports my emotional and mental wellbeing.
What is your experience with location independent work?
The way we work has changed and will continue to change within the next few years. I hope this checklist reminds you that we are in control of your working lives more than ever. This checklist summarizes my personal experience so far and how I dealt with it. I hope it inspires you to try out or optimize your location independent and/or remote work in your own country or abroad.
If you feel you need more support while transitioning to a more flexible, location-independent lifestyle, I can help. Click here to book a chemistry call and meet each other!