I recently tried to experiment with the whole idea of being location independent. I was actually away from home for the past week in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. I had gone away last month but an offer to tag along with my family came my way and I took it up. I decided to use this as the perfect chance to see what it feels like to be location independent and I told only a few people that I was leaving.
I wrote about lifestyle design a bit ago and it lead to some interesting discussion. Some of you were amused with the idea lifestyle design, while other readers mocked it.
I personally prefer to try things out before I form an opinion. I’ve been on many trips before. The thing is that any time I leave home I treat it as a vacation. This includes going to Europe for a few weeks or even a weekend getaway. Meaning that I just have a good time and don’t work at all. I might go on a few times to finish up a post or to respond to emails. As I get more serious about growing Studenomics to the next level, I’m trying to find ways to provide compelling content to you guys. One strategy for finding compelling content is simply experiencing new things and learning more.
Also after reading the book on Vagabonding and the 4-Hour Workweek I’ve really become amused with the idea of extended travel and working while you travel. This is why I wanted to share my quick (only one week, I can’t be away from home for that long!) location independent experience with you guys:
The dangers of being location independent:
While most sites will boost location independence like it’s the greatest thing in the world, I wanted to outline the clear pitfalls of this very notion.
Difficult to be productive.
It’s easy to get caught up with all of the new people you meet and end up on the beach with until six in the morning. How are you supposed to be productive when you’re out drinking with your new friends? Getting to know new people from a different part of this planet (even if it’s from close by) is a really fun experience. It’s a challenge to even open up your laptop when you’re having so much fun.
You need to be a savvy vagabonder to have your expenses kept at a minimum. You must learn how to master finding cheap living spaces and be proficient with CouchSurfing. I’m not good at both and I’m sometimes picky about where I sleep. This is why you need to watch out because your expenses may get really high as you’re traveling. I’m positive that you’ll improve this as you go along, but at first you’ll likely spend lots of money foolishly.
Let’s be honest here. Most lifestyle design bloggers take pride in minimalism and surviving off less in a third world country. This is cool and all, but you can make much more money if you remain at your current gig and moonlight on the side. At the end of the day, experiences are a greater form of currency than money, but in the real world you do need money.
Those are the three major downfalls that I could think of for anyone that’s attempting to be location independent.
The positives of trying to be independent location:
Now that we got the negatives out of the way, we need to look at the obvious positives of never having to go back to an office again and being able to travel whenever you want.
Your experiences are exponentially different.
When I try to sit in my room and bust out compelling content I just can’t do it sometimes. The more people I interact with, the more I learn about people. The more I learn about what drives people and what scares them. What can be perceived in a completely different manner by two similar individuals is a fascinating feature of life. When you’re away from and stepping out of your comfort zone your experiences are much more interesting.
Exploit your youthfulness.
You’re only going to be young once. As long as you’re responsible with your health, career, and money 90% of the time, you can stand to have some fun and have some priceless stories. If you’re realistic with yourself and understand that you need to have your finances under control, then you can exploit your lack of responsibilities in your 20s to travel and take risks with your career.
It can be a great life.
Once again if you manage to make some decent money while traveling, and you figure out how to keep your expenses at a minimum, you hold the ability to have a great life. With the lack of major responsibilities and the ability to move around, life can be really fun.
Lessons learned from trying out being location independent:
Between the positives and negatives of my quick one week experiment I managed to learn a lot.
Have a set time for work set out.
Whether you decide to get all of your work done first thing in the morning or after dinner, you need to stick to this time. It’s too easy to procrastinate. You need to dedicate a specific block of time every day so that your work gets done and you’re able to make money.
Email is easy.
Checking email is really as easy as Tim Ferriss claims it to be. Ferriss states that he only checks email for a short period of time on Monday mornings. I thought that this was ridiculous because I check email like 4 times a day on a slow day. I take pride in responding to emails promptly. I love getting quick responses and I enjoy give them just as much. Then there’s the other side to this. If you manage your email in a time efficient manner, you can spend more time on doing shit that matters, instead of responding to advertisers.
Focus on what matters.
This sentence has become super redundant on some blogs. It even gets annoying at times. Yet we all deviate from this. We get so caught up in tweets and ad placement, that we forget to focus on what really matters. Now I know what Corbett Barr meant when he said he wanted to be f’ing awesome. We really do waste too much time on busy work and attempting to be productive. When we restrict the amount of time that we have access to the computer, we can get so much more quality work done. Less is often more.
Those are the positives, negatives, and some of my lessons learned from trying to be location independent for a week. I threw the idea out to a few friends about this whole topic and received the following responses:
Crystal of Budgeting In The Fun Stuff:
I personally traveled ALOT in highschool and really love the settled life I have now. If you like the idea of being location independent though, this is the time to go after it! Not everybody is a homebody like me.
Bank Guru of BankNerd:
I travel often to New York, Halifax and to Western Canada. Being virtual really makes it a breeze. I literally have run my entire business off my iPad (even posted articles to the site through it). I think it really comes down to, do you have enough cash to be independent as you’d be living in hotels a lot of the time (gets expensive) and if you were to get up and leave could you run everything through a laptop or a tablet?
Time to turn it over to the readers: Have you tried being location independent? Do you need to have a set location to be productive?
Soon I will be sharing a post with you on the scary side of traveling. You’d never expect what happened to us on the way out.
(photo credit: eenar6, me)
3 thoughts on “My Location Independent Experiment”
I went to Jamaica with my family two years ago and it was pretty easy for me to run my business and blog from the hotel room. I brought along a Magic Jack for phone calls to the US, had a netbook, and my cell phone. My ecommerce business virtually ran itself (I just authorized orders and the drop ship company fulfilled them) and I never missed a beat. If your heart wants to be somewhere else, with all of the technology that we have access to there is no reason to NOT do it.
For me, being productive really requires a certain kind of location. It has to be a place relatively devoid of distractions. Of course, there has to be internet access. And so forth. I think that mobility can work as long as you can find places that have all the necessary ingredients for productivity.
I suppose that the main problem with being highly mobile is that it can be hard to get work done when there are constantly new sights and sounds around you. It can be easier to get things done amidst the dull and humdrum doldrums of standardville. Ay! Therein lies the rub.
Great article. It really resonates with me that you need to experience life and learn new things in order to have great content–sometimes I find myself sitting on the couch way too long because I am writing so much! Experiencing life will produce the best writing and the most valuable to my readers.
Also, I was recently in Austin for a week, and was floored that you had to pay for wireless internet in the hotel rooms! It just seems that all hotels in the U.S. should offer wireless free of charge as of like 5 years ago!t