You expect that you’ll need time to readjust and develop new routines when you make a big move. Did you know the same thing happens when you make tiny changes as well?
Recently I moved my home office from one room in my house to another. Since then, my productivity has dropped — a lot.
It never occurred to me that something as simple as moving my workspace within my house could throw me off to this extent.
What’s Your Plan?
If you’re developing a portable career now, as a future expat, you need to plan for how you’ll get your work done in the weeks and months after your move. And that planning is difficult because there will be so many unknowns.
The ideal solution is to buy yourself some breathing room by having work completed ahead of time. This takes the pressure off and gives you time to find your balance in your new location.
It’s also a really good habit to develop even if you’re not moving overseas!
For example, before my trip to Panama this spring, I had gotten into the habit of writing articles for this site in advance. I had five or six ready at any given time. If I wanted to sit down and write something time sensitive to publish right away, I could, but I didn’t have to.
This took a lot of pressure off and gave me time to plan my topics and strike a good balance in subjects.
After my trip, though, I got sick and it took a couple of weeks before I was back up to speed. There went my carefully prepared backlog of articles.
Ideally, before I move, I’ll prepare at least two months’ worth of articles. This will give me more time to take care of the business of moving — and that always takes more time than we expect. It will also give me more time to settle in and have some fun in my new home instead of having to put my nose to the grindstone full time.
I don’t have any other answers for this dilemma — maybe after I’ve moved I’ll revisit the subject with some additional wisdom.
But it’s something I wanted to bring to your attention now. Part of creating a portable career is figuring out how to pace the work so you can stay productive. And that’s a lot harder on the heels of a move — even a tiny one.
If you already have a portable career, how do you get your work done in the midst of change? Let us know in the comments below.
Ed Rivers says
Interesting topic for discussion, Mrs. Perkins. However, I’d say it really depends on the type of person you are and your age. As we all know, the older we get, the harder it is to bounce back from sudden changes such as moving or dealing with an illness. If you are the type of person who is always active at the gym or running 3-5 miles every other day, then dealing with moving changes will be less stressful because you have a better outlet to focus your frustration and stress while staying healthy instead of moping around lamenting over what really has changed and how much more difficult daily living has become.
A single, 20-something-ish guy like myself with no attachments needs very little to adapt to changes (partly in thanks to having served in the military) and make the most out of every opportunity. Rolling with the punches, as they say. However, Mrs. Perkins, with you looking at retirement and enjoying the Golden Years of life, your pace slows down because you’re envisioning what you are NOT going to do (fast-paced, cutting-edge consumer-oriented working and living) and what you WANT to do (more relaxed and stress-free living and enjoying the relative simplicity of life). You’re wiring your mind to focus on slowing down because you’ve noticed that you don’t bounce back from change as fast and well as you used to. The best advice here is to always stay active and concerned for your health: you’re blog/job will always be there for you as you created it yourself; however, if you put of taking time out for yourself over an extended period of time, you’ll have less life-time to enjoy due to a shortened, stressed-out lifestyle.
Not mean to scare you or anything—it’s just something my years of traveling have taught me.
Ed, those are all good points — except for categorizing me with the Golden Years crowd — LOL. I’m certainly not looking at retiring any time soon, and I’m pretty mentally active. However, you’re right that younger people are naturally more resilient, and those of us who are older need to work at it more.
However, this doesn’t negate my point. No matter what your age, moving and change are events you need to plan for, and part of your planning should include giving yourself the necessary time to adjust. That time may be different for you and me, due to age, life experiences, temperament and many other factors, but we still need to plan for it.
Sarah O'Leary says
I think you are definitely making an important point. I was just thinking about it today,actually. Now that I am working from my home (still building a business, but still working), it’s a bit of a game-changer. I’m so used to “work” being in one spot, separated from other things I do, like travel.
One of the reasons I want to build an online business is so that I can work from wherever I am. But, when I get away from the room I call an office, as I did this weekend, I’m finding it hard to actually focus on anything work-related.
Theoretically all I need is my laptop and an Internet connection – but it turns out I also need a shift in mind-set. Just because I’m not in the office doesn’t mean I’m on vacation.
One good thing that does work for me is to bring the laptop to a coffee shop. Something about coffee shops gets me writing. Not so much in hotel rooms.
Thanks for the thoughtful post.
Sarah, the whole work-life balance thing takes on an entirely new shape when you’re working from home! You’ll find (if you haven’t already) that others are much less respectful of your work time than they were when you did your work somewhere else, so learning to communicate what’s acceptable is important. Over the years my family members suffered a lot of unnecessary hurt feelings until we all got better at that. 🙂
It’s really important that you have a designated space for work. That helps you focus, and also lets others know “oh — she’s over there so I guess she’s working. I’ll wait to interrupt.” Cafe writing is a well respected tradition, made very famous in recent years by JK Rowling. I don’t do it regularly, but if I’m feeling stagnant I’ll pick up and take the laptop somewhere and it often helps.
I’ve often wondered how full-time travel writers manage. I’d love to interview one and ask that question. 🙂