When I decided to move into the freelance world, I thought I’d had it made. Flexible hours, the freedom to travel, the ability to pick my own jobs…it was perfect! Except that nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems.
I left Thailand almost three months ago, after a year and a half of living in Chiang Mai. I had been a full-time teacher and part-time writer during my residence there. I liked teaching, but it wasn’t my passion. So I decided to pursue writing full-time. Given that I would be traveling for the next few months and wouldn’t be able to hold a stable job for a while, it was the perfect option.
What I neglected to take into account was that it is remarkably difficult to be productive when you’re in a new state every couple of weeks. Motivation becomes tricky to come by when your office of the day looks like this:
There’s something about having set hours that necessitates productivity. Not always…I’ve definitely had times in my office where I’ve sat and counted ceiling tiles instead of getting started on a project. But generally, it’s a lot easier to structure your work when you have a set workspace and time devoted strictly to working.
So how do I manage freelancing from the road? Here are a few ways I’ve been able to do it.
1. I find quiet space wherever I am
In the past three months, I have stayed in well over a dozen places. Some for a few weeks, some for only a night or two. Having a home office isn’t exactly practical. But it is almost always possible to find a little bit of quiet space to work. Even if it’s just the front seat of a car, jotting down ideas in a notebook. Most places I’ve stayed I’ve at least had access to an unused bedroom, a quiet back porch, a basement couch, or some place to work. Finding a quiet place to think is pivotal in being able to work on the road.
2. I work strange hours
Gone are the days of working 7-4. As my days blend family reunions, visits with friends, road trips, and even home improvement projects, my work day becomes a little less concrete. I may block out time during the day to spend with family or friends or go on a hike while the weather’s warm. But that just means that come 11:00 at night I’ll be typing away on my computer. Sometimes it means waking up extra early to get stuff done before the day really begins. Working on the road means being flexible and sometimes a little unconventional.
3. I set weekly goals
Because of my often unpredictable schedule, I can’t always be sure what I’ll be doing on any given day. Sometimes having a daily goal doesn’t work. But if I set a list of tasks for the week, I’m usually able to get through them, even if it’s not at a traditional or steady pace. But it helps to see my weekly tasks at the outset and to plan my work around that week’s events. While my life might seem spontaneous, given how much I travel, it actually involves a lot more planning, especially regarding work. But with enough discipline, it’s easy enough to manage.