Living the dream? You tell me. In theory, I can work remotely any time I like. I’m freelance. If I want to, I can work from a plane (where this post is being written) or a beachside cafe (where I’m hoping my next post will be written from). But working remotely takes planning and (I believe) some investment in the right tools.
Here are a few I swear by.
1. A light laptop is worth any price.
Can of worms here, I know. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to technology. I just know from experience that if I have a light laptop (versus an old, heavy, clunker) the experience of working remotely will be far superior. For starters, I’ll be happy to take my light laptop to that gorgeous cafe with WIFI, rather than slogging away in my hotel room first because it’s too heavy to lug around.
Sadly, I’ve tried and failed using my iPad as my main working tool from road. It’s now for ‘light’ work only. I bring it on trips, but it’s getting used less and less for ‘real’ work (even with the external keyboard). My Mac Air is for real work. For years, a small notebook computer did the job and I was pretty happy, although I now I’ve upgraded I already can see how having a full size (but light) computer is making it easier to work more effectively. The notebook? After an hour or two, I’d had enough. The Air? Pretty much replicates the efficiency I have on my home (desktop) computer.
2. Pay for cloud storage.
I use Sugar Sync. I’ve liked it for a while, although I’m now considering switching to Dropbox. (Any opinions, welcomed.) I use Sugar Sync for three purposes.
First – it’s an online backup in case my computer gets lost, stolen, or left in a hotel room enroute.
Second – I can share files from my cloud storage. For example, if my assistant needs access to one of my documents, easy. If I need to give someone quick access to a folder with large images or files, simple.
Third – I don’t have to copy files onto my laptop to take with me. It’s all there in the cloud. So if an editor wants me to check something and I didn’t bring that file with me, easy. I just download it from the cloud.
I know most cloud-based storage systems offer a couple of gigs free, but I happily pay for mine. As we speak I pay Sugar Sync about $15 a month to keep all my files in the cloud. It’s a lot of data – I think there’s 80 gigs up there.
3. A smart phone will save your sanity.
Surely, everyone who aspires to working smarter has got one right? Maybe not. If you don’t, you’re just making working remotely harder than it needs to be.
Last week was a good example of how my smart phone (an iPhone) saved me hassle. Sitting at the airport, I suddenly realised my latest blog post hadn’t gone live as planned. I jumped into the WordPress app, figured out I had forgotten to schedule it (Ahhh!) and posted it on the spot. Didn’t even need to dig into my carry on for the laptop. Problem solved in three minutes.
What keeps you sane on the road? Any tips for working remotely? What else should I be investing in?