Working Remotely: Balancing Business + Travel
Learning to balance business and travel was definitely a learning experience for Sarah as she embraced the digital nomad lifestyle. In this episode she is sharing some of the lessons, both expected and unexpected, that she learned while traveling for four months outside of the country in 2019.
We’ve all heard of FOMO, the fear of missing out, but have you tried JOMO, the joy of missing out? This was the first lesson Sarah learned while working remotely; especially with a group of 40 other individuals. With so much to explore and do embracing the JOMO to feel productive about getting work done, having your personal time or not saying yes to a commitment that you might not really be into is a blessing to working remotely.
Find Spaces that Work for You
Not every space is for you! When you are traveling and still needing to put in your office hours, finding the space where you feel comfortable, inspired and are able to focus is essential! Sarah shares how while in Lisbon she did not find herself productive in the co-working space she had access to, but her apartment was the perfect place to get in those work sessions so she could follow it up with a bit of exploration and play.
You know your deadlines and commitments, so make sure you set boundaries to meet them. The lure of adventure and exploring a new place can be so enticing, but you do still have a business to run. Find the schedule that works for you. It might be:
- You explore in the morning and work later in the day so you are working when your clients are active as well
- You working in the morning so you are free of distraction and having your time to be adventurous after the job is done
- You commit to a full day(s) of work so you can take a day or two off and dedicate it just to seeing what is around you and diving into the culture
Find Minimalism & Ways to Adapt
Between having to travel with everything you pack and airline weight restrictions you have to learn to adapt. If you are a pen to paper lover like us it might be finding some ways to switch up to digital. The large whiteboard Sarah uses at home would definitely not fit in her luggage! Adapting to a digital calendar and more online tools helped to pack light.
If this is something that sounds like a dream but you are hesitant – start small. Travel to a different city or state near you for a week and try it out. Or if you are used to working in an office, break the routine and try working in coffeeshops for a week. The change and putting yourself out of your comfort zone will help you decide if it is the right decision for you.
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- Website: outofthemidwest.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/outofthemidwest
- Instagram: instagram.com/outofthemidwest
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Sarah Schrader 0:00
So I actually ended up working in my apartment mostly that month, because it was just a bright place that gave me a lot of energy, a lot of sunlight. And I felt good there, I got a lot of work done there. And so giving myself the space that I really enjoyed, allowed me to focus without being distracted by everything else. But I mean, also to like, different coffee shops were really fun to work in. And that’s a great way like, oh, I’m gonna have like a working lunch. I’m gonna go try this food here and experience that and I’m gonna get some work done.
You’re listening to The Creative Legacy Podcast, a podcast for creative entrepreneurs to build their business, while leading a life of intention, joy and adventure. I’m Sarah, a brand strategist and designer, helping entrepreneurs craft their brands to speak boldly and reach their ideal client. I’m joined by my friend and co host, Shaune, a wedding photographer and educator that helps photographers, creatives and small business owners cultivate intentional lives and build their most abundant business.
Shaune Teske 1:14
Most of us work from a office, a studio, a desk, we have a dedicated place where we go to work every day. And that isn’t always the case, though, which is super exciting that we have Sarah here, who is going to tell us about her adventures of working remotely, where she didn’t just have that same space she worked from every single day, she switched up literally going to different countries, different continents. I mean, how amazing is that? For some of us, that does sound amazing. And for others, we are freaking out because oh my god, how do you do that? How are you able to go from one place? What about all your stuff, all that stuff? And she’s gonna share with us lessons she’s learned today about it, and I can’t wait to learn.
Sarah Schrader 2:05
Yes. So I am very blessed that the program I went through remotely has a very big community and support so so you can ask a ton of questions. Because yeah, figuring out like what to pack and the how like a weight rules work for different airlines, because honestly, I didn’t know half the airlines I was flying with until like two weeks before we figure it out. All of that was it was fun. And like language barriers. A lot of stuff was in that. But I think one of the biggest things I learned was a term that I heard for the first time and in Split Croatia at our big meeting is very clear introduced. And that is Jomo or the joy of missing out
Shaune Teske 2:49
Sarah Schrader 2:51
So I mean FOMO is a big term that has been around for a while the fear of missing out. Jomo is becoming a little I have to be very articulate here Jomo with the J. is becoming more popular. There’s a book out called a Jomo now, I haven’t read it. But I know it exists. And it’s really about we have an episode where we did the season about saying no, it’s really about that is saying no to things. So when you are traveling, things are very exciting. There’s a lot to do let to see. But if you are working in that you still have to manage your client communication, your work, getting new clients, because you can’t be traveling for four months without bringing in any income. So you have to be very intentional about like what you’re choosing to do. And that was the very like, at our meeting, our program leader said that to us, like get in line with Jomo. Because I was traveling with 40 plus other people, and they were we all have different businesses that we either worked for on our own or worked for somebody. And then in the meantime, there’s all this programming that was going on. Plus, like just trying to see the cities that we were in. And we could also take like side trips elsewhere. And then people are planning things and like if you were doing everything, you’d be spending first a ton of money you will be spending no time on your business. And yeah, so yeah, get comfortable a Jomo.
Shaune Teske 4:26
I’m just gonna use that as my excuse Jomo. I’m staying home.
Right? Like you’re back now. Like, there’s just something really nice about saying like, you know what, I’m okay missing that I’m gonna be really comfortable in my bed tonight watching that.
I love it. Again, yeah, that sounds like heaven.
Sarah Schrader 4:44
Shaune Teske 4:45
So for people that don’t know, though, tell us where were you like again? Yeah, let’s just do a recap of where where you and and how first like your business was able to work from not being in the country.
Sarah Schrader 5:02
Yeah, so I guess I’m kind of less free now like, I don’t have a physical space storefront, I’m not going to like you have your events you have to go to with weddings, I don’t have that. So my business really is run digitally. And so I am blessed to be able to kind of be where I want to be and working. And I think it’s really cool to see how many different employers now even if you’re not in your own business are falling into that space.
Shaune Teske 5:35
Sarah Schrader 5:37
So like, various like customer service roles, I mean, virtual assistants now is a big thing. It’s really cool to see. But to do that, you have to really be on top of your systems and your communication. So once which for me was switching from a lot, like I have my whiteboard that I love, and I can bring that with me.
Shaune Teske 6:00
Imagine on the plane.
Sarah Schrader 6:02
Yeah, oversized luggage. So switching over to digital and different means for that and learning what that was like. So I did, I mean, I still brought my bullet journal that was small and light enough that I could move things into that. Utilizing like Slack and Asana. Just even like the Notes app, different things. And really, it was like a trial and error type of thing to get it those who are very digital by nature, like you know what you got to do. But for those of us who like the paper and like the physical and want to travel for months on end, you can’t bring all that with, you got to figure it out. I switched to a digital calendar now I’m still using that, which is different for me. But that was one thing to keep on top of as well.
Shaune Teske 6:57
So that’s like a big that was a big change was that you had to you have to be comfortable with like readjusting. From what how you always did things into, okay, this doesn’t work here. Instead of just not doing it, you have to learn something else, you have to find a replacement. And so you say you got to kind of move everything digitally. Was there a big change with like, you are literally in different countries like time zones? Like did that affect your work?
Sarah Schrader 7:27
Being very cautious in talking about, like, with clients and potential clients with like, what time I meant. Like, just here in central timezone. Oh, like we’ll do that at 10am. Like, and it’s easy, because you’re there, but I have to be. Think about that. I’m like, Okay, I’m six hours ahead. What time am I gonna tell? So yeah, I mean that and like switching over calendars to make sure it’s in the timezone. But I mean, I think it was actually kind of fun. I was working on power, the first product at that time was a fun one, and my contact Laura that I work with, if she had sent something before her end of day. And then because of the time difference, I woke up, I did it. And I had it to her before she was awake. I actually heard that from my friend Leslie that I travel with to like, this is amazing. Send me things often night and it’s here in the morning.
Shaune Teske 8:26
Actually, we should all work at different times. And things we get done faster.
Sarah Schrader 8:31
Yeah. So there was like some little perks in that. And you can be either working without interruption in emails for a long time or going out and doing the kind of exploring thing and then working while your clients are kind of working hours doing their thing and being present at that time. So it I mean, I did a mixture of both. But it was, yeah, it was so different. And I really loved that like not being distracted by phone calls and emails.
Shaune Teske 9:04
Yes. I was gonna say is that tough when you are traveling because again, working remotely you’re probably going to pick your place that you want to see like you want to visit and you want to check out was that difficult to then be like I have to go work I can’t go explore I’m not on truly on vacation, where I have all this time to go and walk around and explore and take pictures and whatever. How did you balance work and try and explore and try see how things and really like take make the most of that moment.
Sarah Schrader 9:34
That was difficult. I think for all of us we were all kind of like the first few weeks we were all excited about getting to see Split get to know that but also because we were in a group getting to know each other. So that was a whole nother aspect of what I did. But I mean eventually you realize like, oh, there’s deadlines like so you do focus and I’d be like okay, I need to set a time. This many, at least this many hours to work, or I’m going to set time just this day is going to be at work on this project. And then I have a free day. So it’s just balancing out what you need to do based on your workload and what needs to get done, I think, but really setting aside time for what you need. So I mean, like I said, it can be structured, you can say, I’m going to work four hours a day, really focus, kind of like hustling on that. And then you have the rest of the day free. Or you can just set aside a certain day, or maybe you just have a bigger project and you realize, like, okay, I have to spend these few days working. And then I have a few days, like, I can take a three day weekend to go around.
Shaune Teske 10:43
Sarah Schrader 10:44
So I think it’s funny, a lot of people and I’ve had that too, like, oh, how’s your vacation going? I’m working.
Shaune Teske 10:54
Like, I wish it was a vacation. Right?
Sarah Schrader 10:56
Just take four months to explore travel? No, yeah, I’m working. I did have to adjust. And like, because of the time changes, occasionally taking calls at like seven o’clock at night. or later. Like, actually, I think the worst was people who were from the west coast in the Pacific Time Zone, because they weren’t even farther behind.
Shaune Teske 11:18
Sarah Schrader 11:19
Some people like working in the co-working spaces or out of their apartments at like midnight, in the time zone we were in and I’m like, how are you doing this? I need to be sleeping. But it was, yeah, it really is finding a balance and just knowing what you need to get done being very strict and setting boundaries with yourself so that you can get your work done.
Shaune Teske 11:42
So definitely not a thing to do. If you’re not good at setting boundaries. You’re gonna just I mean, you could be fun, but you’re just not gonna work.
Sarah Schrader 11:49
Yeah, you won’t you won’t make any money. Yeah, he’ll be like, stuck somewhere, like, Okay, how do I get back?
Shaune Teske 11:55
You are going to spend alot of money. So you went with a group of other people that all are doing their own thing, you know, working remotely as well. Would you recommend that? Or would you do you wish like it was just you going on your own trying to figure out or was there some, you know, help in going with other people?
Sarah Schrader 12:17
I really liked the aspect of having other people. I think it’s great to like, be able to experience something with somebody else.
Shaune Teske 12:26
Sarah Schrader 12:27
So I’ve really enjoyed that. But there’s something you said about going and exploring on your own. Like, I did take days where I just went by myself with my either my phone, my camera, or just walking around, because I want to walk around and see different things. And like I came across like, in Spain, like there was this day I went out, and there must have been some kind of celebration, I don’t know what it was, but there was just people dancing in a square. And they were inviting people to come into and try it. And it was just really cool to see. Or different people like busking for money with playing things like listening to them, or just watching like artists work on the street. It’s really cool to just kind of have your own moments and experience that too.
Shaune Teske 13:12
Good. So even if you are with a group taking the time to go and explore on your own safely, but always being able to be alone, you’re going to be able to take everything in, in a beautiful and different way than if you were in a group.
Sarah Schrader 13:29
Shaune Teske 13:30
Sarah Schrader 13:31
I think one of the other big takeaways from this was just because it pushed me so far out of my normal day to day. And like, even beyond just making myself kind of in a new comfort zone of I’m traveling and I don’t know what’s going on. Being able to really tune in to a different way of life, like each month was a little bit different because of where I was. Being in Valencia, they have like, five days of rains a year. It’s amazing. Like how, how do I get there? So, then also their day, they have a siesta. And then okay, yeah, so like stores, restaurants, they’ll close down. And like either breast or take a nap if you want to do a traditional siesta. And so you, you have to be aware of that you can’t just like say I’m going to eat at one o’clock because they’re closed. Like it doesn’t happen. And also they like structure their meals differently. So you have to be aware of that. And it’s really cool to experience that and really listen and hear those different cultural aspects. And to experience that like even competing back home now it’s really cool to just take a day and like, go somewhere different and be really in tune to what’s happening around me.
Shaune Teske 15:00
Yeah, really pushing yourself not trying to do everything. how you’ve always done it. Yeah. How are you going to learn and grow?
Sarah Schrader 15:06
Yeah, I didn’t realize how stuck I was in my routine.
Shaune Teske 15:12
Did you take anything away from that? Like you just said you didn’t realize you were stuck in your routine. Is there anything that like being away working remotely? Now that being back in the states and back to your kind of normal life that you’ve brought with you that you’re still doing? Working at midnight?
Sarah Schrader 15:30
No. I mean, I have been guilty of that. Um, good question. That was something we talked about as a group of like, what we would learn that we wanted to bring back, and there’s different things that have been a challenge coming back, I think one of them was I really enjoy being outside more. I didn’t have a car, I couldn’t drive everywhere. So it was like walking, I had a bike in Valencia I was able to get that for the month. But it’s a little bit harder in the snow in Wisconsin in the winter, and I’m like, really like, or I wish I had like some snow shoes I should probably get so like, I need to do something. So that was one thing, like just really focusing on things that I truly enjoy again, which is really cool. I’m saying no, like, that was something. I learned how to do that a little bit better. And I think I’ve been okay with that still, so that’s good. Dealing with my empathy has also been another big thing.
Shaune Teske 16:42
Tell me more. Yes.
Sarah Schrader 16:44
So I mean yeah, I definitely, am one to like, really take on other’s emotions and feelings and be really sensitive to that. And when you like, if you really let it get to you, it can affect your whole day. And there were days where I would be in such a funk that it was hard to work. And that giving myself the space. So space was, I guess the takeaway, the lesson from this is to really give yourself the space to separate yourself from that. So if you are having something going on your life with somebody, and you’re just really feeling for them, to not let it become too much I guess and to just separate yourself, take a moment go sit down, put yourself in silence, away from it all and focus in on you, instead of the other person or people around you. And yeah, that was a big thing to, to be able to do that. And it for me, like being how many 1000s of miles away was a very good catalyst to it. But it, yeah, it’s hard. It’s a very big practice to do.
Shaune Teske 18:07
What a great lesson that everyone can do. Now, you don’t have to work remotely learn that. But you did. I mean, you did go across the ocean to learn. So good.
Sarah Schrader 18:17
I wasn’t, I mean, there was a ton of growth like both mentally, physically, personally like a ton of it. And like I always say, like I had, I took four months away to do it, but you don’t need it. By no means to do that to grow. So yeah.
Shaune Teske 18:32
Wonderful. Anything else you want people to know about working remotely or what you learn good or bad?
Sarah Schrader 18:39
Yeah. Finding spaces like if you are wanting to travel, finding spaces that you’re just really comfortable in. So each place that we had, each country went to either side where I went, I just realized, so; Split Croatia, Lisbon Portugal, Valencia Spain, and Cape Town South Africa. We had a co-working space, so we had access to 24/7 in each of those spots. I will say I rarely went to the co-working space in Lisbon because it just wasn’t for me. Like when I saw the video of it before I even went there was this cool like patio space on top of the building, it seemed really cool. But I got there and it just didn’t function for me like I couldn’t work there. So I actually ended up working in my apartment mostly that month, because it was just a bright place that gave me a lot of energy, a lot of sunlight. And I felt good there. I got a lot of work done there. And so giving myself the space that I really enjoyed, allowed me to focus without being distracted by everything else I could be doing. But I mean also to like different coffee shops were really fun to work in. And that’s a great way like oh, I’m gonna have like a working lunch. I’m gonna go try this food here and experience that and I’m gonna get some work done.
Shaune Teske 19:58
That’s so smart, like put work back into.
Sarah Schrader 20:02
Exactly, yeah, you have to figure out how to fit all that in. But it’s yeah, I really enjoyed it. It’s an experience that I’m so thankful for very grateful for the group that I had, I think, like your professors amazing. And the program, like I said, I did the program for convenience, because it basically planned everything for me. I didn’t have to worry about all of it. But I’m very thankful for it as well.
Shaune Teske 20:29
I think my last question, and I think this is everyone’s question, would you do it again? Or are you planning on doing it again?
Sarah Schrader 20:36
Okay. Um, yes and no.
Shaune Teske 20:41
Sarah Schrader 20:43
Four months away, is a long time. And when I first ended it, I was like, nope, I don’t I like, I want to travel. Yes. And I like I could see like, going away for a month here a month there. But four consecutive months was a lot. And I was at that point of a strong no, I wouldn’t do it again. And then also too, and like, if I were to do it in with remote, like I had done. Would I still have the same experience of a good group dynamic, or would it be different? Because right, different people bring different things. Right. And that was something a lot of us talked about, like, is this just a really good starline moment? Or is this like how it would be with it again? And coming back now and what how many months is that later? It’s been almost a year since I last now, cuz I left in March. It’s a month away. Wow. Anyway, a month since I left, but yeah, what nine months? 10? Since like, I’m back. I’m I have that like anxious. I want to go.
Shaune Teske 21:58
Especially in winter.
Sarah Schrader 21:59
Yeah, that doesn’t help.
Shaune Teske 22:00
Sarah Schrader 22:02
I’m like, yeah, I just want to go again. So potentially, I could see myself doing it again, I know, I really enjoyed that experience. So maybe trying out like the South America one would be really cool?
Shaune Teske 22:18
I was gonna say, do you have a place in mind?
Sarah Schrader 22:21
Yeah, I mean, I like to like if I want to jump on any of the things, once you complete your program, you get what’s called Swiss citizenship. And they open up citizen houses. So every month like they’re going to have one, and they had one in Bali. I think currently, then the Dominican Republic, there’s going to be one in Greece, like, they jumped around and you can stay there for a week, you can stay there for for like a week to four weeks a month, I believe. So you can do that. And you can also jump in for a month into a program to have their space available.
Shaune Teske 22:57
Might try that next?
Sarah Schrader 22:58
Shaune Teske 22:58
Okay. Well, we can’t wait to see you next, because we know it’s not going to just be here. You got to travel and see the world. I mean, and you can work remotely. So anything else you want to share?
Sarah Schrader 23:12
I think I would just if you’re hesitant about it, but it sounds like something you want to do. Like just try even in your own space. Like maybe you go somewhere like for us being in Green Bay, maybe it’s Chicago for a week. Try it there, like being away seeing what that’s like, so you’re not far away from home, but you aren’t in your space, right and see if you like it that way.
Shaune Teske 23:41
That’s a great step. You don’t have to leap to a different country. Like you didn’t even start just a different city or a different state and get a taste for it.
Sarah Schrader 23:49
Yeah, and if you’re very used to a home office, try a coffee shop in your own town.
Shaune Teske 23:53
Sarah Schrader 23:58
That’s one of my things. Like I even now like now that I have a home office that’s new for me. Yeah, I still love like going to a coffee shop or the library and getting out of my home because it’s nice to just shake things up.
Shaune Teske 24:13
Yeah, new ideas. Yeah, we’ll go there. Sometimes, man I will go on and we’re like, let’s just talk about work stuff and we go into a coffee shop and we just get a bunch of drinks and then just mind dump business dump all sorts of things. And I want to be productive. I don’t go there because I like very stimulated by the noises and sounds and stuff. So but yeah, that’s a great.
Sarah Schrader 24:35
That is a good point.
Shaune Teske 24:36
Mm hmm. That is a great though. Tip of like, if you want to try it, just try getting out of your comfort zone doing something different in some great new ideas might come from.
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