How to Manage Your Time as a Freelancer While Traveling
If you’re a freelancer, you’ve likely heard this before, “It’s so great that you can travel whenever you want because you can work from anywhere!”
While, yes, that is true in most cases, it isn’t always as easy as people think.
Remote workers, like anyone else, have specific spaces, places, and times when they are most productive -- and unproductive.
Let me tell you, from my own experience, trying to write a 2,000-word blog post while sitting smack dab in the middle of family and friends coming in and out of the house wanting to catch up and make plans while you’re in town isn’t the most conducive environment for productivity.
Now, I’m certainly not blaming my family and friends for wanting to catch up and hang out. Believe me; I want to do the same more than anything. After all, I didn’t fly all this way to hide in my room.
But at the end of the day, if I don’t submit my best work on time, I will be banging my head against my keyboard once I get back to my desk.
In an ideal world, when you’re traveling as a freelancer, especially when you’re going to see family and friends, you would just take time off.
However, sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way. There are times when your work has to come with you while you travel.
Managing your time as a freelancer while traveling isn’t an impossible thing to do. It’s all about planning, communicating with your clients, and setting boundaries for yourself.
So, how exactly does one do that?
Plan your workload ahead of time
A recent process I’ve started implementing is creating a “hot sheet” for all of my current projects. Creating project spreadsheets like this were essential when I worked at an agency, and I’ve adopted my own version as a freelance writer.
This document includes:
Drop-dead project due date
Project due date I assign myself (typically a few days before the drop-dead date)
Other important notes (e.g., Follow up with X about X)
Status column (so I can keep track of what I haven’t started, what I’m currently working on, and what is complete)
Fellow organization nerds, if you want to get fancy, I sometimes color code items based on priority. If that is too many moving parts for your brain and the status column is more than enough, that’s okay, too. You do you.
This document is a lifesaver, not just when traveling, but at any time. No more middle-of-the-night-OMG-when-is-that-due freak-outs. (Those late night freak-outs really are the worst, aren’t they?)
I love this simple document so much that I want to share it with anyone and everyone who wants to get 👏 it 👏 together 👏.
That’s right -- follow this link and make a copy to your Google Drive. Happy organizing.
Set boundaries for yourself
Let’s go back to my example earlier. As tempting as it may be to hang out in your parents’ kitchen and “work” while you catch up with everyone, it’s probably not the best environment to Take Care of Business.
Now, everyone’s work style is different, so maybe sitting in your parents’ kitchen IS the best thing for your productivity.
But for those of you who equate that work environment scenario to the 10th circle of hell, then it’s time to set some boundaries.
Do your best to recreate your home office. Find a quiet place -- preferably with a desk and chair -- that you can hole up in while you work.
Put on your favorite tunes and stock up on your most prized productivity-enhancing snacks. That’s a thing, right?
If that isn’t an option, go to a nearby coffee shop, or purchase a day pass at a co-working space. Separating yourself from the business can do you wonders.
Let your family know that it’s nothing personal, but you are working and need some space to do just that. The more conducive your work environment is to your productivity style, the better your work will be (and the faster you’ll be able to get back to family time.)
Communicate office hours with your clients
If you’re like me and change time zones every time you travel, make sure you communicate your new working hours to your clients.
You may not always need to update your clients on your travel schedule, but if there is going to be any variation in your availability, it’s best to communicate that.
If your clients expect you to be online from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. PST every day, but you will be on east coast time for the week, it’s always a good idea to inform them of the change.
Being on the same page with your clients is the key to avoiding any stress during travel.
Have clients in multiple time zones? Never mix up MST with CST again. The World Clock app by timeanddate.com is an easy, no-nonsense solution to figuring out time zones. It’s available for both iPhone and Android.
Also, Google users can add time zones to their calendars, so missing a call or deadline is a thing of the past.
Managing your time while traveling doesn’t have to be a stressful thing since taking vacation whenever we want isn’t always possible.
If you plan far enough ahead, set boundaries, and communicate with your clients, you shouldn’t skip a beat!
What are you tried and true tips for managing your time as a freelancer while you travel?