Long (I mean really long) gone are the days when you wait in anticipation for the dial-up tone to indicate your connection to the world-wide-web.
The digital world is literally at our fingertips 24/7 via mobile devices, removing any time and space between the source and the consumer of information.
Unless I intentionally unplugged from the Internet (which is healthy by the way), work travels with me neatly packed in an Apple MacBook Pro, a Samsung Galaxy S5 and most recently, a Samsung Tab A.
Working away from my home base, which is primarily in the United States, has become a more common modus operandi since I started my own design and print business.
Recent travels have mostly been out of necessity due to aging parents in Singapore, and I am thankful for the flexibility in schedule to cross timezones and continents.
Aside from managing jetlag in a different country, I am learning to do a few things well in order to effectively manage the business.
Talk to me
Keeping a clear channel of communication between my clients and I is at the top of my priority list.
Email is the main method of tracking conversations revolving around a design proof. There are web-based project management tools that I have found useful for more complex projects. Here’s a list for you to find one that works.
Find out what other means of communication your client may use for quick correspondences. I found Facebook Messenger (or WhatsApp, which is more common in Asia) to be effective. Due to the nature of this social media, it also makes my clients and I more human.
Draw the line
Being a solopreneur, it is easy to blur the line between life and work. While it is tempting to address your clients’ question in the middle of the night, draw the line so that work is kept within a certain time frame.
How do I adjust my schedule of work when there is a 13-hour time difference between my clients and I? I communicate within two predictable time frames; their mornings and evenings (ie. my evenings and mornings respectively).
The key is predictability. Furthermore, it also allows me to set aside time where I am not distracted with answering emails and messages.
What’s in your wallet
Having a credit card with no foreign transaction fee has been helpful for me in managing expenses in one account. Just make sure the card company is aware of your travels and possible transactions in specific countries.
More importantly, it’s all about going paperless since my journey of decluttering started. For some reason, those paper statements stressed me out and they will always be added to the forever-forgotten-but-always-in-your-face pile.
I have long been scheduling transfers and payments between accounts (ie. checking, credit card, utilities, cell phone, etc.) thus reducing the amount of physical mail especially when I am traveling. Always make sure to check your online accounts via a secured Internet connection regularly.
Work that body
“I don’t have access to the gym I am used to” or “I am not familiar with this part of town” are common excuses that can lead to falling off an exercise routine when traveling. In fact, I found that the first couple of weeks upon arriving at a different country is the best time to form some healthy habits (see #4 and #5).
Pick up some basic yoga moves (there of tons of instructional videos online) or stay tone with these weight-free workouts. Keeping a healthy regime and that includes diet, will benefit work productivity.
Have some fun
I may be familiar with Singapore (having grown up here and visiting regular) but this Lion City is constantly changing. Taking time to explore old & new places and trying exotic fruits has been a good distraction. Everyone needs work-life-balance, right?