Travelling was never only about seeing the world to us. Sure, it’s one of the reasons we flew to the other side of the world to explore a continent we knew nothing about – but it was never just about that.
One of the key goals we wanted to achieve was to finally have the time to do work that we are passionate about. We wanted to develop professionally in the areas that interest us, and eventually turn our hobbies into freelance careers.
Naturally, we couldn’t wait to have the freedom to structure our time however we want. But, to our surprise, when we achieved this freedom, it was somewhat overwhelming – and even challenging at first.
The truth is that, before our trip, work was what it all revolved around. It was taking up the majority of our time each week, and structuring the rest of our lives. And even though we found this structure limiting, its disappearance from our lives shook things up somewhat.
Fortunately, over the last two months we learnt a lot about the transition from an employee to a travelling freelancer – and we would like to share those lessons with you.
Here are our 5 tips to help you maintain focus while on the road. They are simple, universal, goal-oriented tips, which will hopefully help you maintain focus and get things done.
Create a schedule that works for you.
No longer having your employer decide what hours you need to work allows you to try different ways of working, and find out what schedule works best for you.
For example, instead of waking up early and starting work on your projects in the morning, you may want to start in the afternoon and work late into the night, as that’s when you get most done. Or, the opposite – you may want to wake up super early and get the majority of your day’s work in before breakfast is served at your hostel!
Your schedule doesn’t necessarily have to be specific hours that you decide to work either. What might work better for you is committing to spend a specific number of hours on your projects a week (for example, I now commit to writing and editing photos for 30 hours a week). You can then get things done while working flexibly and knowing that you’re making progress.
Creating a schedule that works for you will boost your confidence in your ability to get things done. Just like any other habit, the more you practice structuring your working hours yourself, the easier it will become.
Think ahead to minimise distractions and obstacles.
The key to getting things done while on the road is thinking ahead to your best ability. It can be as easy as sitting down on a Sunday evening and mapping out where you’ll be staying next week, how many hours you will spend travelling and when, and creating a schedule for yourself that takes these things into account.
For a travelling freelancer, an obstacle to getting work done is staying in a place that doesn’t have Wi-Fi or a suitable workspace (by ‘suitable workspace’, we don’t really mean anything special – just a chair and a table, really).
While it isn’t always possible to know whether Wi-Fi will definitely function at your accommodation, use previous reviews on booking apps and sites to avoid surprises.
If you’re spending a long time on a bus or a plane (most of our bus journeys are about 20 hours…), use that time efficiently by making sure that the devices you use for work are charged. Long bus journeys provide the perfect opportunity to get some work done – or do some learning. We normally download lots of podcasts about blogging and various other things before hopping on our bus – it also makes the time pass quicker.
Set small, achievable goals.
The best way to get things done is to set yourself small, achievable goals. Crossing them off your list will boost your confidence in the ability to get things done, and motivate you to keep going. Those small goals can be anything, from writing yourself a pitch template, to spending 10 minutes reading an article about how to spice up your headlines.
We’re currently listening to an inspiring podcast called ‘Happier’ with Gretchen Rubin. One of the daily practices Gretchen recommends is keeping a one sentence journal – in order to achieve more happiness over time.
Now writing a sentence a day doesn’t sound challenging, does it? But Gretchen says that over time, it significantly improves your happiness. This is a perfect example of a small, achievable goal, which has a significant impact.
Set yourself small goals and watch your belief in your abilities grow as you achieve them.
Focus on one thing at a time.
One of the biggest myths of the modern era is that, in order to get things done, we have to be brilliant multitaskers. The truth is that our brains don’t successfully work on a multitude of things simultaneously. Instead, they switch their attention quickly from one task to another.
This process of switching between tasks is detrimental to our productivity: we make mistakes, lose our focus and motivation, and don’t get much done.
So, do yourself a favour and work on one thing at a time rather than switching between tasks. You’ll get more done in less time – and you’ll actually feel like there’s progress, rather than feel anxious because you are not getting much done.
Keep track of what you have done and celebrate small wins.
The beauty of setting yourself small goals is not only that they are easier to achieve – but also the sense of achievement that comes from having ticked them off your list.
It feels like you’re making progress, which can be a powerful motivational force – and motivation is what keeps you on the right track. When you achieve your small goal, allow yourself to experience the sense of accomplished. A little ‘pat on the back’ moment will improve your motivation and productivity.
What also works for me is keeping a diary of the small goals I achieve each day – almost like a ‘to-do’ list, where I tick things off. When I feel demotivated, all I need to do is look through the small goals I have achieved so far to give me a quick productivity boost.
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We hope that these tips will help you work more productively!
Got any other tips and tricks that you can share with us? Know a motivational speaker whose podcast inspires you to get things done? Share your recommendations with us below – we’re always looking for inspiration.
Live well, travel far.
Borrowed roads x