Category Archives: Life Hacks

The Four Day Work Week (4DWW)

https://nadyneharts.wordpress.com/

Image: Nadyne Harts

This isn’t a post about the 4 Hour Work Week, best selling book by Lifestyle Design guru Tim Ferris that happens to be a big motivator to those in the Digital Nomad community. Nothing wrong with a 4HWW, but it’s a personal situation that involves outsourcing your work to other people who are working so you can be absent. The 4DWW is about sharing in that time off with employees so that everyone has a little more time to enjoy and live their lives.

4DWW: The Pilot

We recently started a 4DWW pilot program at my company. I shared my story (below) and the slide deck I presented from at the company meeting (our last Friday before starting) on Facebook. I got some incredible feedback in the comments, people asked me to post this online so others could see it. We’re not the first and PR wasn’t the goal. My sincere hope is that by sharing our experience, other companies will have the confidence to take the leap and give this a shot. We ARE out to prove that we can be a leading company in our space, highly competitive and continue serving our customers through the friendly support they’ve always had, while giving ourselves and families more time, which is truly our most valuable commodity.

Results (So Far)

One month in, I can honestly say it has been wonderful, but not necessarily easy. Any big shift in work requires change. Change in your mindset, processes and approach to your workload. Sundays are no longer “oh man, tomorrow is Monday”, they have turned to “I gotta get my list together, I have limited time to knock things out”, which I’ve found is a much better way to approach the week.

Here’s my story and the presentation:

“Today we started a 4 Day Work Week pilot program at Mosio. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for awhile now and we finally have the team, the traction and the systems in place to make it a success.

This move is very personal to me. I had a dark, horrible year in 2013, in the middle of difficult, but necessary changes at the company, and the death of my grandmother (Papa), my biggest entrepreneurial inspiration. For 5+ months I was working 60-70 hour weeks. Stressed, depressed, but chugging along, hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel.

I would work a full day, dinner with the family, kid in bed and then back to work until 1-2am, off to sleep/worry, only to do it again the next day with a baby on the way. At one point I told my wife “I would never do anything to hurt myself, but right now I don’t care if I live or die.” Seriously heavy shit. I kept telling myself “right the ship, then make the change”, that got me through it.

I know that many people in the world are literally working themselves sick. Chronic stress is linked to the 6 leading causes of death. 18% of US workers work 60 hours per week, some are barely making ends meet. I feel privileged we are able to offer this extra day per week to our team, our families and ourselves.

If you’re interested, here’s my presentation, the final slide has links to references we researched in making the move.

Noel”

4DWW Presentation (click the link to download)

 

Other 4DWW Companies:

Serps Invaders Introduce Four-Day Work Week

Treehouse: This Company Has A 4-Day Work Week, Pays Its Workers A Full Salary And Is Super Successful

A La Mode: OKC Real Estate Company Offers Unlimited Vacation, Four-Day Work Week

 

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Tips for Crossing the Costa Rica/Panama Border with Children and a Car

luis_border

Tips for Crossing the Costa Rica/Panama Border with Children and a Car

This is Luis. Luis is a hustler. He helps confused gringos with too many bags cross the Panama/Costa Rica border. His only tools are a pen, mobile phone and people skills. I love meeting people like Luis because he reminds me that true entrepreneurial spirit isn’t about industry press, funding rounds, exit strategies, head count, taxes, etc. It’s about creating solutions to problems and busting your ass to make things happen. Thank you for being there when we needed you, Luis.

My family and I recently spent a two week trip in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. We have been traveling now for 53 days, to Mexico, U.S., Costa Rica, Panama and now we’re back in Costa Rica. With two kids and more luggage than we probably need (we spent Christmas with family in the U.S. and accumulated gifts), we wanted to drive our car south to the Panama border (Sixaola side) to get to Bocas. Traveling in a car means you don’t have to pack so neatly, so tightly. You have the opportunity to spend less mental effort in the traveling exercise. Here are some things I learned on our journey to and from the border.

1. Don’t take your car, it’s not worth it.
Unless you are traversing Latin America in your car, there is no reason to take it from Costa Rica to Panama. If you insist, here is an incredibly accurate way to do it, the photos are spot on and just remember you need to visit 5 offices. We were determined to do it, had our attorney do the appropriate paperwork (cost was $60 and two hours out of the way to meet him to pick it up after the initial meeting), I read up on getting the car to the ferry in Almirante, etc. All of that planning, time and money spent only to find out after visiting said offices, getting our car sprayed and spending about 2 hours in lines, than there is some new Panamanian law stating that a Costa Rican car can only come in if the person driving it is a Costa Rica Resident. Being that we’re 90 day border-jumping touristas, it didn’t matter that all paperwork had my name on it, all stamps, dotted i’s, t’s crossed, etc were in order, they wouldn’t let the car through. Luis spoke with someone who said we could come back later and they could help us out, but it was going to be a 3 hour wait and we were afraid that once we got the car into Panama, it would be difficult to get it out. So we parked it on the Costa Rica side in a parking lot (you can see it down the hill to the left if you walk out of the Costa Rica immigration office, $9/day). We rented a taxi/bus for our family of 4 for $40 from Sixaola to Almirante, but I know this can be cheaper if you share a bus with others and don’t have the bags we have. We travel alot, but our experiences are not what I would call the “light and cheap” type. We don’t waste money either, but if spending it is necessary, we do it, which brings me to my next point.

2. Utilize assistance, but go with your gut on things.
Luis, pictured above, was a huge help, both ways. As a father, traveling internationally can be extremely stressful to ensure the safety of your family, make sure everyone is where you can see them and remaining calm when children are distracted by literally everything. Some people are ridiculously independent, others are paranoid they’re getting ripped off. There’s something empowering about trusting someone, letting them do what they do, for a fee, so you can focus on other important things, like “do you have visual on her?” comments with your wife about your daughter. I was skeptical at first, a small handful of people were willing to help, from showing us parking spots to watching our car. Luis walked up, said “I help people cross the border, if you need me, I can help.” Then he brought over 4 immigration slips for me to fill out, asked if I needed a pen, and gave us space. Not only did he show me to all 5 offices, when the 5th one didn’t work out, he walked me back to those where he knew I would get a refund for the taxes and insurance. On top of that, Luis was waiting for us in Almirante with a driver and bus to help us on our way back.

My office for two weeks in Bocas Del Toro

3. Include your children in the process.
Ticos love children, it’s a wonderful thing. Panamanians do as well, we found out. In a long line of faces trying to get their documentation stamped, a smiling and waving child saying “hola!” can do wonders for your processing time. Families can go to the front of the lines and aside from maybe 2 sighs from those in a hot line, none of the officials care. At immigration they need to see faces anyway, so bring your kids up first, have them say hello and then they can go back to doing whatever you need them to do to remain occupied.

4. If you’re working, take the day off on border crossing days.
This isn’t always a luxury and our plans got snafu’d when our kids got sick in Puerto Viejo and had to be taken to the clinic. Doctor’s orders were that we had to stay until Monday, which meant our plan of crossing on Saturday were foiled. I usually try not to do meetings on Mondays anyway, but sometimes you have to be on calls when clients can and want to do so. Even if you’ve crossed a border before, you have no idea how long things can take and there’s very little (nothing) you can do to speed things up. Having a phone call scheduled before or after means you are rushing the crossing at one point of the day or the other. Reduce your level of stress, take the day off, especially phone calls and if you absolutely have things you need to do, they can wait until you get to your destination.

TLDR; Don’t take your car, ask for help, use your children as ambassadors and take more days off. 🙂

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Tips for Digital Nomads: Find the Perfect Place to Stay

Bangkok

Being a digital nomad is a lot more than sitting at the beach with a laptop and a cocktail all day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it a number of times, but you’re going to be a lot more productive in a space that’s set up for work. For one, there’s not usually power or an internet connection at the beach, and you have a constant battle to keep your laptop from filling with sand! Your friends all envy your digital nomad lifestyle, but to become awesome you need planning –  especially if you want to simply up and change cities whenever you feel the inkling to move.

I’ve had so many friends tell me

“You get to work wherever you want, that’s freaking awesome!”

but there’s so much going on behind the scenes they never see. You need an iron clad will to balance work and travel, and personally I just want to get my work done, so I’m free to go out and enjoy the city I’m in. After a year and a half
as a remote freelancer, I’ve discovered a certain art in finding the right place to stay.

First you need to decide what you’re looking for. Do you want a fun social environment or peace and quiet to knock out a ton of work?

Hostels

Enjoy a party atmosphere and an unbeatable price on a dorm bed, and the best time to work is while everyone is out sightseeing. Combine this with a fun and social vibe as the evening kicks on, and you’ve got an ideal place to stay in almost every city. Check Hostelworld for the best deals or if you’re feeling adventurous Couchsurfing is another budget-friendly option.

Hotels

Perfect when you need to focus without any distractions and knock out massive work days. Combined with room service, a gym and even a swimming pool, and you’re all set. Agoda is a great site for hotels in Asia, or Booking.com for everywhere else in the world.

Apartments

This is my favourite because it’s more comfortable than a hotel when you’re staying somewhere for more than a week, and can be even better for your budget. Check out AirBnB to see your choices.

Must have

For the room there are basic necessities you need to get your work done effectively. Make sure that wherever you stay there is:

  • Internet. It’s impossible to work remotely without it, so double check there’s WiFi available.
  • Work space. A desk or table is essential, and saves your back from hunching over on the bed or the sofa.
  • Power points. Hard to judge, but conveniently located power points are vital for a remote office. Check the pictures and see if you can spot lamps (which mean power) on the desk, or on any bedside tables.
  • Kitchen. I don’t like eating out everyday, and cooking is a great downtime after 12 hours staring at my laptop.
  • Laundry. Being able to throw a load of washing on is a godsend, and saves you time that would otherwise be wasted sitting at a laundromat.
  • Size. The bigger the better, so find somewhere at least 40 square meters and you won’t mind being cooped up all day with your laptop.
  • A Separate Bedroom. Having a separate bedroom is fantastic if you’re travelling with your partner. It let’s you both have different areas to work, so you can get in the zone without being right on top of each other.
  • Location. Find a place with a large supermarket nearby to stock up on groceries, as well as being close to an internet cafe so you can change scenery whenever you need it. I like to be a little bit removed from the tourist centers to avoid all the commotion, so long as there are a couple of nice restaurants nearby.
  • Cleaning gear. Not the most exciting item on the list, but if you’re anywhere for more than a week it’s nice to be able to give the floors a sweep and keep your temporary home fresh.
  • Reviews. Read through what the others who stayed here have said. You don’t want to be stuck in a dark little apartment with dingy furniture and a shaky WiFi connection, so do your homework before you book!

If you follow this advice you’ll find the perfect place to get your work done, so you can get out and enjoy the best attractions in the city once you’re on down time.

The life of a digital nomad is unique, so set yourself up to work effectively and you’ll be out enjoying the local sights before you know it – as you live a lifestyle many others only ever dream about!

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Great Video: Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love.

This TEDx Talk from Adam Baker is a couple of years old, but the simple truths he outlines about the Work > Buy > Debt cycle are timeless. “What Does Freedom Mean to You?” Answering that question is the most important thing you can do for yourself in your life to obtain true happiness. Life is a hustle, it just is. Make the hustle worth it!

My wife and I are in the middle of a big purge before our move. We went through one about 18 months ago when leaving San Francisco to move closer to family in Arizona. Now we’re going through it again, filtering, shedding more “things” to make room for experiences, flexibility and freedom. Admittedly, my hardest parts of the purge have been shoes and my motorcycle. A motorcycle is its own kind of freedom, but I can get another one. And I have a ridiculous amount of shoes. Along with watches they’ve been a pretty big weakness, purchase-wise. I can get more shoes if I want, but this process is helping me learn more and more that I don’t need all of the things I think I need. We didn’t “need” 50% of the stuff we brought with us from San Francisco to Arizona.

We actually did a pretty good job. Our goal of moving from a 1 bedroom apartment in the city (San Francisco) to a 3 bedroom house closer to the Catalina Mountains (Tucson) included us making a conscious and ongoing decision to not buy things to fill the space. We added a crib, a bookshelf, were given a queen bed for the guest bedroom and purchased chairs and small table to eat meals. After this move we’ll have everything we own in a 10′ x 10′ storage unit. Some art, antique lamps and warm clothes not worth taking with us.

Enjoy the video, hopefully it helps you realize what “crap” in your life is holding you back.

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The top 8 resources to make remote working a success

Productivity by Alien Frank

Productivity by Alien Frank

As you settle into the life of an remote worker, you will find that you experience many up’s and downs as you settle into your new lifestyle. The freedom is empowering, but the lack of co-workers can be a drain on your personal happiness (or you may even be secretly relieved). I’m going to cover the top methods and resources I use to make your life abroad a breeze, whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional.

  1. Rework: Office Not Required

Get your hands on a copy of this book. Written by the founders of 37signals, they delve into the challenges and unexpected benefits for working remotely. If you need help convincing your employer to let you break free from the 9-5, this book will give you the ideas to set it in motion, outlining precisely the steps you take in building a remote work setup.

  1. The right hardware

You need a laptop, a decent internet connection and a mobile phone that you always have on. Even though you are working “remote,” you need to be accessible at all times – especially when your boss needs to get hold of you. A separate workstation from the rest of your house will also help to keep you on task while you are working, and a great headset will make it easy to answer every Skype call that comes int.

  1. The right software

There are endless programs to assist during your telecommute. File sharing systems like Google Drive or Dropbox are great ways to share and simultaneously work on large files with your colleagues. Of course you need to regularly check your email, sign up for a free Skype account and ensure you are always online. If your clients are international, tools like The World Clock will let you schedule effective meetings in any time zone.

  1. A strategy to be productive

Decide what it takes to keep you on track. The biggest danger in working remotely comes from distractions. You are going to need to be even more productive than your “traditional” colleagues to maintain your remote lifestyle and grow your career. Find what works for you, it can be a post-it system plastered over your monitor, or more complex tools like Evernote or Wunderlist. Personally I write down everything I hope to achieve in a day in a notebook. I prioritize the list to determine my top four goals, and split these into two each morning and two each evening. I reward myself with a break in between tasks, or ensure I get 5-10 minutes away from my computer every hour if its a longer project. Simple and easy.

  1. Stay social

It may sound trivial, but you don’t want to find yourself distanced from the office “clique.” The people you interact with everyday at the water cooler form the foundation of your professional network. If you’re not in the office, don’t miss out on everything that goes on while you’re not there. Tools like Campfire, or WhatsApp and Line groups allow colleagues to stay connected (informally). You don’t want to fade into obscurity simply because your office is in your home.

  1. A regular way to “Get out of the house”

The lack of face-to-face social interaction when working remotely has a remarkable ability to turn a professional employee into an unshaven, unbathed neanderthal whose sole human interaction involves having the right change for the pizza delivery guy. Dont be this telecommuter. Get active in your community through Chambers of Commerce, MeetUp.com, or local sports groups and give yourself a reason to shower each day! Join a gym and ensure you get exercise three times a week. It will also help to balance your sanity and adds a nice change of scenery to your home office.

  1. Clear guidelines and milestones

Be open with your boss and colleagues on what it is you are working on. Keep them updated with regular progress reports, and ensure they know the timelines to expect tasks to be completed. Yammer is a great way for teams to keep up to date. It’s a common misconception that working from home involves tapping away at emails while your focus is on the daily TV soap opera’s. Don’t ever give your colleagues this impression. It only takes a quick morning call or message to outline your major tasks for the day alongside the progress you made yesterday. Bring your boss and your team up to speed every morning, and they will never doubt your diligence.

  1. A good work life balance

My final resource is more of a guideline. Remember the office should stay the office. This key fact is often forgotten by remote workers who put in a crazy amount of weekly hours because it’s so easy to log on and “just check my email”. Having your office in your home offers a huge risk for burnout, so set yourself a schedule and stick to it.

Make use of these resources and you will find that remote working is easier than ever. It’s not scary or impossible. All it takes is for you to take charge, and grab this fantastic opportunity for yourself.  

Author: Travis Bennett

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[VIDEO] Finding Your Tempo: Ensuring High Work Output While Traveling | Tips for Location Independence

Quite a few people seem to feel like getting to the point of being remote is the most difficult part. If you’re not yet there, that makes perfect sense. The trick afterwards is maintaining high work output while being location independent, whether that is working from a home office, on the road or literally on the move during travel days.

Traveling can be stressful, as can work days. In this video I share a few tips I’ve learned to ensure I have high output during my travel days and am able to do so with minimal stress on me and my family.

Practice makes perfect and I used to be pretty worthless, work-wise, on travel days. Then I got to a point where I was able to get a lot done, but was pretty stressed out and in some cases miserable in the process. I’m far from an expert at it, there’s always room for improvement, but these tips have helped me along the way and I’ve gotten a lot better at playing the game. I hope you like the video and if you do, please subscribe to the Remote Control youtube channel!

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How to get more out of your travel plans by Trip Stacking

After you’ve achieved location freedom, every trip is an opportunity to see more and do more while you are traveling. My wife and I recently turned a 3 day wedding weekend into a 2 week trip to Northern California.

In this video I share some pointers I learned the hard way in trying to stack another set of trips in an attempt to turn 8 days into 3.5 weeks. We still got 18 days out of it, so no complaints, but I spent a lot of work researching the wrong things only to find out all of our trip scenarios weren’t doable for all of the people we wanted to see. If sharing these videos helps others learn from my mistakes, I’ll keep making them. 🙂


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