Working Abroad, How Do We Do It?
While we may have taken the leap and left our traditional 9-5 jobs, sold our belongings and moved overseas, we still have to work to survive and by no means live life on the beach drinking Mai Tai’s until the sun sets each day. (Although some days we do, don’t be mad.) We have placed great importance on designing a lifestyle for ourselves which allows us to follow our dreams, travel when we would like and not be tied down to a physical location and while we are lucky to have been able to figure out how to do this, we still work during the week and have to maintain a high standard of quality for the work we do. Working abroad can be tough, so how do we do it?
“We still have to work to survive and by no means live life on the beach drinking Mai Tai’s until the sun sets each day.”
As Marina and I both have degrees in visual journalism and documentary filmmaking, we were lucky enough to be able and maintain some professional client relationships from the states even as we moved overseas. Also, working as visual journalists, while the work might not be as steady as a 9-5 job, it allows us to work from many more locations that the traditional job might. Regardless of your profession, working abroad can be difficult, and so we wanted to write up our most important tips and tricks, so here goes!
1) Maintain a Schedule – This is easily the most important one of all. Anyone who works at home must learn to maintain a solid routine in order to stay up to date on all responsibilities. That being said, everyone works differently and while I prefer to wake up early, get work out of the way and enjoy the afternoon, some people prefer to work in the afternoon and evenings. Sometimes we work for a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon and enjoy lunch down on the beach. Working abroad allows us to keep our own hours, but as soon as we start to slack, we have to pull ourselves together and jump back into a solid routine. Routine is king.
2) Plan for the Unplanned – Working abroad is the dream right? Free time to do what you want, work from anywhere and not be stuck in an office. While working abroad is pretty great, and often we decide to take a day off here or there, cut a day early to go to the beach or work on side projects for an afternoon, this is all because we plan for the unplanned. Freelance work can be unpredictable, and some months you might get much less work than you planned. By planning ahead and making sure we have enough saved, we allow ourselves the luxury of not working 50 hours a week, but it certainly is not as easy as simply half assing everything.
3) Set Goals – Setting goals has helped us attain much more freedom abroad than we ever imagined. We start off each week with a goal, some weeks more aggressive than others, and work towards it as fast as we can. If we meet the goal by Wednesday, then we have a couple days to work on passion projects or take a weekend trip. If we cant to take a vacation we do the same thing – work hard for a couple weeks and allow ourselves the freedom to take a vacation whenever we want as long as we get our work done first.
4) Mix it up! – Sometime we all get stuck in a rut and feel like we are going insane working in the same place everyday. Since we work at home, if we spend too many hours in our house, it can start to feel like a prison! At least one day a week we make sure to do work from a different location. Sometimes we run down to the local Thai coffee shop, throw our laptops in our motorbike and eat cashew chicken while working the afternoon away. Sometime we split up, and one of us will stay home and the other head to a sandwich shop for a few hours. The point is, when you work abroad, especially in the place you live, mixing it up is extremely important!
5) Stop and Smell the Roses – Sometimes it feels like we get stuck in our little home office here in Phuket, and we need to put the breaks on everything and enjoy the fact that we live in Thailand! We might live in paradise but it doesn’t matter one bit if we don’t get out and enjoy it. We didn’t move half way across the world to still sit in front of a computer all day long. It is so important to take the time and immerse ourselves in the culture around us. Whether its a trip to the weekend market to eat squid on a stick, or stopping by the local noodle shop for a bowl of delicious $1 soup, taking the time to enjoy where we are is the most important part of all.
So how do we do it? We plan ahead, we schedule our time (somewhat), we stick to a good routine, stop to explore our surroundings and work to maintain a perfect balance between staying financially stable and living the dream. I don’t think either of us would be happy sitting on the beach drinking Mai Tai’s all day, but it sure is nice to know we can whenever we want, and taking a weekend trip to exotic islands isn’t bad either.
Jeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all.
A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.
Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll respond super fast!