Estimated reading time: 6 mins
A Guest Post by Chris Richardson
Working away is a broad concept. In most cases, it means working away from home. I would define it as working away from the office. Sometimes you have to take your work home, and that has to be the most boring thing ever. Sometimes you decide to live in a foreign country for an extended period of time and you have no other choice but to get a job there.
I recently came across the website of a young couple that’s traveling around the world on a motorbike. So far, they’ve been to 41 countries on 5 continents. They support this mission by giving motivational talks and lectures. How cool is that?
So yes, working away is different for everyone. To me, it was freelance writing while I was staying in southern France.
The Key Is to Make Your Work Enjoyable
Now, let me tell you something: this is not an easy challenge. Whether you’re taking work home or you’re traveling the world and doing some work, it means you’re giving up on free time just to make some money. At the beginning, I was doing some work in restaurants and that was a nightmare.
Then, I realized: a dream job should be enjoyable, no matter what the circumstances are. I need the money. So what? Does that mean I should be miserable for several hours a day just to enjoy the rest of it? I couldn’t enjoy my free time because I was too tired and miserable from the job I hated.
That’s when I started freelancing and made things work. Yes, there were some challenges. I would rather spend my time walking around the villages in the area. However, I found ways to make working away enjoyable.
People are asking me how I did that. I decided it was time to share what I’ve learned, so others can find their dream job away, too.
How to Do It: Make Working Away Enjoyable
1. Stay Positive
This is a tough one. Whatever job you choose, there will be challenges.
When I first started freelance writing, I thought I wasn’t good enough. That’s why I failed to do my best on the first two projects. Then, a friend told me: “If you think you’re not good enough, you just have to believe that you can learn.”
This was the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard. It changed my point of view. It practically changed my life. Whenever I encountered a big challenge, I just kept learning. “Okay, I don’t really know how to do this… I should start working on the project early. Do some research, learn more, and then do it!”
It’s a recipe that works. Every. Single. Time. As long as you stay positive and you believe you can learn, you’ll do it.
2. Focus on Being Productive; Not on Following a Schedule
Working more does not mean being productive.
At the beginning, I was trying to follow a fixed schedule. I would get up early in the morning and start completing the plan. I always lagged behind it. It took me some time before I figured out that productivity was not the same thing as working more. In fact, a productivity app showed that the most productive workers don’t work eight hours a day. Instead of working longer, they were working smarter. Smarter means taking frequent breaks.
So I decided to rely on the Pomodoro technique. I got rid of my fixed schedule. I still have a plan for the tasks of the day. However, it’s flexible. With the Pomodoro technique, you organize the work in sessions of 25 minutes. After each working session, you take a break of five minutes.
The system is so simple that I thought it wouldn’t work. But it does. The working session is not long, so it’s not overwhelming. “Hey, I can write for 25 minutes. I can do this!” Then, an enjoyable break follows. I can make myself some tea, check out Twitter, call a friend, get outside and breath, or do some stretching. Then, I’m ready for another working session and it doesn’t seem scary at all.
3. Keep the Element of Surprise
If you’re not in an office, the work can get boring. There’s no one to talk to. You’re in front of the computer for too many hours. When you wake up, you know another day like that follows.
It’s important to keep the element of surprise. I found two effective methods for that:
- See a different place every day. Even if it’s a supermarket you’ve never been to, it’s still an element of surprise. Go to a new coffee shop, sit on a different bench in the park, get a magazine you’ve never read before… do something different! Every day!
- Take challenges. You can’t allow your job to get boring. Accept more challenging projects and keep learning. You’ll surprise yourself with the things you can achieve.
4. Find What Makes You Happy
When you’re focused on working, you’re trying to be serious. Bills are a serious thing, after all. Somewhere along the way, you may forget what made you happy. You’ll forget why you started this job in the first place.
What makes you happy? Find that aspect of living and focus on it. Is it personal growth? Is it reading? Is it seeing more places? Whatever it is, keep doing it. Work should not keep you away from doing the things that make you happy.
5. Stay Healthy
Yes, you can order pizza anytime. That’s enjoyable, right? Wrong! The feeling after having too much pizza and beer is definitely not enjoyable. The feeling after months of that lifestyle? I don’t even want to remind myself of it.
- Eat fruits and veggies
- Prepare your own meals and make them healthy
- Drink loads of water
- Tea works, too
- Have a healthy breakfast every day, with no exceptions
- Sit on an exercise ball while working on the computer
- Do yoga
- Go for a jog each morning or evening
- Sit properly, so your back won’t suffer from the sedentary lifestyle
Out of all little challenges and twists I accepted to make my job more enjoyable, the healthy life was the trickiest one. You might be wondering what it has to do with making work enjoyable. Tons!
When you feel energized, you do a better job. The healthy lifestyle also makes you feel a greater purpose. You’re not living just to make money. You’re paying attention to yourself and you’re making yourself a bit better, too. When you combine work and personal satisfaction, you become a happier person.
Work Should Bring You Joy
Sometimes even the dream job can be stressful. You’ll always deal with deadlines and needy clients or supervisors. What can you do about it? Change your point of view! When you realize what you want to do and you get that job, you have a huge responsibility towards yourself. You have to maintain the excitement.
Hopefully, the tips and experience I shared will help you find the joy you’re after.