Hey everyone! Amanda here. I’m writing this blog post from Rome, Italy after booking a last minute plane ticket last week because I realized I *really* needed to take advantage of the perks of having a online based business – one of those being the ability to work remote.
When I was making my list of tips, I did NOT want to just give you fluff and general random info that you might find in the literal millions of blog posts already published on this topic, so what you’re about to read has actually worked for me and I strongly recommend these things. It’s a mix of general concepts and very specific advice – I hope it’s helpful! Feel free to drop a comment here or on Instagram if you’ve found it helpful, or if there’s a piece of advice you think I missed!
1. Set specific “vacation” days – and stick to them.
Wherever you are, it’s probably pretty awesome, and you’re not likely to want to work remote every single day – no matter how much you love what you do. Set specific days besides the weekend that you will not work, and allow yourself the space to use them as vacation days. Your work days will be that much more productive and enjoyable if you do.
2. On “mixed use” days, time block and do multiple sets a day.
I have started referring to days that I go out and explore and work “mixed use” days, and what I’ve found works for me is setting a couple of work sets in one day, instead of trying to work 8 hours straight. This works for me for two reasons – first, I realllllly find myself wanting to go explore after about 3.5 hours of work, and second, when there is a large time change involved, sometimes you need to be available for your team for a bit. Here’s the schedule that has been working for me in Europe. Feel free to adjust to what you need, it’s the concept that I recommend you get behind.
- Morning in Europe: 2-4 hours of “Project Based Work”. Because it’s approximately 1-4am in the states during these working hours, I use this time to get the stuff done that really needs to get done without communication from anyone else. Aka project work. I also answer any emails that came in from the US work day the day before. This is my most productive working time, and even though it’s only a max of 4 hours, I can normally crank out 6-8 hours of work because there is NO communication coming in, because of the time change! This has been critical for me!
- Afternoon in Europe: 3-5 hour Break for activities!
- Early Evening in Europe: 2-4 hours of “Communication Based Work”. I let me team know how long I’ll be online and use this time to specifically knock out things that they need from me to move forward with their projects. I also take care of any work that I need an answer from someone in order to move forward, and do more emails during this time period.
- A note: I specifically let my team know when I’m doing activities and when I’m doing an afternoon working session each day, and for how long. It allows us all to be respectful with communication.
3. Don’t rely on cafe Wifi.
I don’t care how cute or romantic it sounds to work remote at a local cafe. The wifi is unreliable and so is your ability to get a table big enough to put your laptop on. Sit your butt in your hotel room, or your hostel, even if it’s a dark and dreary place and just knock out your working session. This will guarantee you get your work done, which will make you feel 100x better come “activity time” on your mixed use days because you don’t need to feel guilty about things you didn’t get done.
4. Don’t schedule phone calls unless 100% necessary.
Unless you’re going to be gone for over a week, don’t schedule phone calls. The reason is a little selfish… you will NOT want to take them. Trust me. I don’t care where you are, you’re not going to want to get on a phone call because it throws off the time schedule of wherever you are, and back into the time schedule of where you were. It will interrupt your entire day as you try to make sure you’re at a quiet enough place to take the call and have good enough service to not drop the call. I made this mistake when I worked remote in Barcelona last year, and I really regretted it. (At one point there was compilation of photos of me on my phone, taken by my friends to make fun of me.) Set communication expectations with your team and clients up front and know that scheduled phone calls are to be avoided unless there is an urgent or pressing matter.
5. Avoid charging and Wifi woes on trains (And to be safe, planes as well)
If you have a long train ride, you might be assume you can get quite a bit of work done on the train because of the wifi and charging stations available. Be careful with this assumption, and take these precautions to make sure you don’t waste the time:
- Even if the train is super expensive, it doesn’t mean it has wifi. Make sure you have work to do that doesn’t involve wifi. (I love to write my blog posts and proposals on trains.) On a similar note, even if the plane advertises that it has wifi, it frequently doesn’t work at all, or if it does, it’s a poor connection. When I’m utilizing transit I always plan on doing work that does not require a connection to make sure that I don’t get stuck and frustrated.
- Even if the train has charging stations on the tables, for whatever silly reason, the converters don’t always work in them. I’ve experienced this now three times, so make sure your computer, phone and headphones are fully charged before you get on the train.
I hope these tips help you have productive work remote sessions abroad, as I learn and discover more I’ll continue to publish them. For now, I’m at the tail end of one of my “project based” working sessions, so I’m going to close my laptop and go explore! – Amanda
PS – Looking for more resources to increase productivity and have better work remote sessions? Our team member, Julie, recently blogged about social media scheduling tools and why we love Buffer. Check it out here: Why I chose Buffer over Hootsuite.