This is the 13th post in December’s Top Tens in 2010 Series. This guest post was written by my long term online and offline friend Ryan Paugh. Ryan is one of those people that I can say “he’s just as awesome offline as he is online.” Ryan is a co-founder of an ever-growing network of career rocketeers at Brazen Careerist. When I started my job in July I joined the forces of many other location independent folks. If you haven’t heard that term, or LI as some of us call it, it’s just a way of saying we can work from anywhere – coffee shops, the couch, co-working spaces, etc. I asked Ryan to write on this topic because I know this is a growing trend, particularly in our generation.
People ask me a lot about what it’s like to work location independent. I typically respond by saying that it’s really cool, but what I really should be telling people is that it’s also scary.
Ever since my company opened it’s Washington, D.C. office and I reopened the Madison, WI branch in my living room, I’ve been trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of new stress that working location independent entails and maximize the coolness factor. So here are some of the things that I’ve come up with.
1) Be a power networker
Stability has a lot to do with the people that you surround yourself with. So being stable as a location independent professional is actually more difficult than it is for people who work in an office. Being a power networker starts with finding people that you think are cool. When you find them, ask good questions, do a lot of favors and try to ignore the awkwardness of having to meet new people. This is more difficult for introvers
2) Make a lot of lists
As an office dweller I never felt the need to keep lists because being surrounded by a great team keeps me focused. Not taking notes as a remote worker would be the death of me because I only have myself to blame when an important deliverable goes forgotten. You don’t need a piece of software with lots of bells and whistles to take great notes. I like to avoid bells and whistles whenever possible. So I use a service called TeuxDeux. It’s clean. It’s simple. Just what the doctor ordered.
3) Don’t get up and work.
I spent the first couple weeks of my location independence waking up and immediately grabbing my laptop. I got caught up in the momentum of my workday and before I knew it the day was done. It was depressing, and I even forgot to eat. What I found out quickly is that an important part of being location independent is starting your day off with something besides work.
4) Have a morning routine.
I learned about morning routines from my girlfriend. While I snuck in 30 extra minutes of dozing time, she would be making French press coffee and reads her blogs. These are two things that she really loves and I realize that starting the day off doing something that you love is really important. So these days I start my day off with a long walk with my girlfriend, my bulldog and our thoughts.
5) Don’t work alone.
While one of my favorite parts of working from home is the lack of distraction from my coworkers, I still make an effort to be around people at some point during my day. Going to a coffee shop helps. It also helps to make friends with other location independent people and invite them over to do work. I’m more productive when there are people around me being productive, too.
6) Lunch meetings.
Every week I try to schedule at least one meeting with someone that I know, or someone that I want to know. I do this because I miss going out to lunch with my coworkers and talking about work. If I can’t do it with them, then why not schedule some time to do it with somebody else?.
7) Mini breaks.
At the office, coffee breaks were what helped me break up my day. Now that I’m working from my apartment I need to break up my day doing other things. Since I love to cook, slowly preparing an outstanding evening dinner gets me through the day. Whenever I’m feeling stuck on a project, I go into the kitchen and chop up a vegetable to clear my head.
8) Communicate more.
What scares me most of not being with the rest of my team in an office is feeling out of the loop. I spend more time these days sending emails to my team. Not just to keep people up to speed on what I’m working on, but to share new ideas.
9) Build trust.
I feel like a lot of more conservative companies are hesitant to hire a person without a real office because they think you’re just goofing off all day. So while a lot of location independent professional will post pictures of themselves scuba diving in Thailand on their blogs, think twice. Your online presence will become a big part of what your clients think about your ability to perform.
10) Remember why you’re doing it.
At the end of the day, working location independent is going to be amazing for you if you remember why you started doing it in the first place. Was it so you can travel more? Pack your bags and go. Did you want to improve your overall health? Tie your shoes every morning and go for a run. If you’re not using your location independent experience to improve your life, then it’s no different than working in an office.