I’ve always seen working from home as a blessing, although I’ve had employees who sometimes didn’t enjoy this arrangement. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it does provide a lot of flexibility, and it gives me an extra hour per day to use for myself (that would’ve otherwise been spent commuting).
Until very recently, I’ve always had a dedicated office in my home. Over the years there were times I worked alone, but other times I was with one, two, or as many as six other people. With that said, I don’t feel like working alone or having other people in the same room ever influenced how productive I was, because my ability to focus has always varied.
In the six months before I came to Colombia, I was having a terrible time focusing. I’m not sure why that was, but I definitely didn’t feel very productive during that season. For the two weeks prior to leaving, I can attribute my lack of focus to my trip preparation, but I can’t use that excuse for any other time. Interestingly enough, my most productive moment happened in a Starbucks, sitting with a chai latte and headphones on while I talked with clients or listened in on conference calls!
Since I’ve been in Medellin, I’ve tried whole days at the workspace, days split between the office and home, and even split between a cafe and the office. The most important part is I’m trying to spend time away from home and trying to be around people more.
But no matter where I’ve chosen to work, I’ve found myself being extremely productive! I’ve had more focus over these last two weeks than I’ve had in months, and I have no idea why. Maybe I’m just feeling good, or maybe it’s the caffeine in the chai latte ☺️. Either way, it’s working!
Now I’d like to share some details with you. I’m using a MacBook Pro that’s a few years old, but I have a few accessories I need in order to feel comfortable.
- I can’t live without my MX Ergo mouse. Using the typical trackpad physically hurts, but this trackball keeps me from getting carpal tunnel. It’s also great for small spaces because the ball is the only thing that moves! I’ve been using a trackball of some sort for the last ten years or more; I use the Bluetooth function, but I don’t use the small USB plug pictured.
2. A wireless numeric keypad is a serious timesaver for me. In my home office, I always had a high quality 10 key calculator, but it’s just not practical to lug one around the world with me. I’d been using one before I left the States, and I cringe at the idea of not having it. The one I use is a Macally I purchased from Amazon. I love that it’s extraordinarily light, but as long as the keys are correctly spaced and they depress easily, I don’t think the brand really matters.
3. A GREAT headset. I have a nice quality Bluetooth headset, but I prefer a wired model because I’m freaked out about the radio waves being so close to my head (there are days when I’m on the phone for many hours). So I opt to use this corded set instead. I don’t even know what the brand is, but the call quality is great and it has a mute feature that actually works! The only thing I don’t love is the top is a thin metal and it can be painful after a few hours.
4. I use a tablet with an app called iDisplay in order to have a second monitor when I need one. I’d guess I use it about 75% of the time, and it keeps me from having to do a lot of printing.
5. SUPER IMPORTANT: I’m making all of my phone calls from my computer. It’s still using my Google Fi phone service via Wifi so it shows my normal phone number, so this keeps me from having international calling charges.
6. Lastly, I’m using ExpressVPN to keep everything safe. I’m also connected to a U.S. server (through ExpressVPN), so it has other advantages like keeping most of my internet pages in English and letting my browser think I’m still in the States.
So, where’s my groove? This past week it’s been working from home for an hour or two after I get up (usually around 6:00 or 7:00 AM). I’ve been working a lot very early, but sometimes I’ll also go to the gym for thirty to forty minutes for weights — I’ve decided cardio is not needed in Medellin ⛰ with all of the hills and stairs I’ve been climbing! After that, I’ll head to a cafe around 10:00 AM. I’ll stay there and work for a few hours, and then head over to Selina where I’ll wrap up around 5:00 or 6:00 PM. With that said, there are no rules and tomorrow is a new day! Don’t count on it being the same schedule, ever.
Before starting Remote Year, I was a little concerned about distractions, specifically from the people in the group I’m traveling with. If they were spending all of their time doing fun stuff, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep myself working as much as I needed to. Fortunately, that’s not been a problem at all! Although there are definitely a few who don’t have to work, most of them do, and many are extremely driven and dedicated which I really appreciate.
If you have any questions, please just ask. No question is a dumb question!