3. Schedule time free of messages and notifications.
Most things aren’t as urgent as they seem to be. The most productive people follow practices like doing all their “creative” work in the mornings, and not opening email, reading Slack, or holding any meetings until the afternoon. Try it for a week—you could be amazed how much more you get done, and how much better you feel about your work.
4. Consider removing work apps from your phone.
This depends to a great extent on personal preferences and boundaries, but some of our team have achieved a healthier balance by only engaging with work tools like Slack, email, and Asana while in work mode on their laptop. The risk of having these apps on your phone is that you end up constantly thinking about work, potentially leading to counterproductive stress levels.
5. Check your travel and health insurance carefully.
If you’re traveling regularly, it’s important to look at your insurance policies in detail to see what might be excluded. Even if you think it's comprehensive, it might not be: one of our team only discovered after an accident that they weren’t covered by their insurance if they traveled straight from one foreign country to another—for the insurance to be valid, their trip had to be from their home country.
6. If you’re freelance, get an accountant.
They’re not as expensive as you might think, and it’ll give you some extra peace of mind when it comes to planning for tax and managing your finances.
7. Combining work and travel can be exhausting.
Just moving around takes a lot of emotional energy, because you’re having to constantly reorientate yourself to a new environment—work out where the shops and restaurants are, finding somewhere suitable to work, ensuring you have a secure place to live, and so on. Combining that with a demanding job can quickly lead to burnout. So plan your working time carefully, and try to stay in places for at least a few weeks so that you can recover energy in between moves.
8. If you’re moving to a new country long term, don’t underestimate the language barrier.
Obviously this only applies to countries where you don’t speak the language. For English speakers, in big remote working cities like Berlin, Lisbon, or Amsterdam, it can be easy to fall back on English in daily life. But to really access a city’s culture, make new connections, and avoid becoming isolated, it’s crucial to make inroads into learning the language. Luckily there are inexpensive tools like Duolingo and Memrise to get you started—but once you arrive it’ll be worth looking into face-to-face language classes to help you learn more quickly and practice real conversation.
9. If you wear glasses, get a spare pair!
It only takes one wrong step in an unfamiliar Airbnb to grind your glasses to dust. It happened to our in-house designer Patrick just the other day!
10. Remember the Pareto Principle.
80% of results come from 20% of effort. As designer Ellen Lupton says, “Learn to take things out. Learn to get rid of stuff that you don't need. Apply it to your whole life. Get rid of the junk.” Remote work offers many of us the unprecedented privilege to decide for ourselves how much we work and what we spend our time on. Wherever feasible, identify what aspects of your work drive the most value, and focus on those things. It’ll be good for you, and good for your work, too.