11 Tips for Working Remotely [VIDEO]

I am nine months into living as a nomad and I decided to transition to creating more video blogs since it is easier to film while on the road rather than writing. I am truly more of a writer at heart, but I think this will help get more content out there for fellow adventurers.

I get asked a lot what it is like to live and work on the road as well as how I got my current job. When I try to explain what I do, I am mostly met with confused looks, so in attempts to show you a bit of what it’s really like, I will share some of my tips for working remotely. If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, I’ve written out a short recap below:

  1. Discipline: First, in order to get a remote job, you need to prove that you are disciplined.
  2. Schedule: Stick to a schedule. Treasure your routine, wake up at the same time and end work at the same time.
  3. Timezone: Choose one timezone to work in no matter where you are.
  4. Weekends: Protect your weekends, even if it means you are working longer hours during the week.
  5. Food: Prepare your food and eat regular meals. This will reduce distractions during your day.
  6. Environment: Change your environment periodically throughout the day as you switch projects.
  7. Focus: Don’t mix work and personal. Don’t do laundry or talk to your mom or schedule appointments.
  8. Music: Listen to music. It will help distract you from outside noise.
  9. Coworkers: Communicate expectations, over communicate with them on where you are and when you are available.
  10. Make friends: Spend time calling your coworkers! Ask them about their life, which takes a lot more intentionality than working in an office together.
  11. Tech: If you want to succeed as a remote worker, you need the right tools, which are different than what you need for an office. You’ll need: a laptop, Spotify, noise-cancelling headphones, MiFi, cord cases for organization and a durable bag where you store everything and can bring with you everywhere.

Would love to hear from you on what your experiences are living and working on the road!

Stories from the Road: Joni

boulder-wanderer-house-van-life

One of the first people that I met on the road was a woman who I rented a room from for about a week in Boulder (check out her Air BnB here). Her home was essentially a half-way house for wanders and, naturally, I felt right at home. I mostly chose her place because it was inexpensive and pet-friendly, however, she did say that she doesn’t accept all pets, just the ones that she feels good about. Little did I know that I would get to know everyone in the house who came and went during my stay and find surprising connections with each one. It felt a lot like my life growing up living overseas where people came and went pretty quickly, but everyone had an interesting story.

When I first walked up to her door and knocked, a young man who looked like a college student and spoke in broken English opened the door. I asked if Joni was there and she yelled from the other room that I should come in. She was a short, fit and fiery woman in her mid-thirties with incredibly beautiful curly hair that dropped to her shoulders. I learned that she did jujitsu and could have probably thrown me on my ass if she wanted to. She was very blunt and particular. Take your shoes off at the door, no shoes in the house. Keep the cat in my room. Clean up after yourself in the kitchen. Clean up after your dog in the yard. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. This was clearly not her first rodeo. I then learned that she was a relator and just moved into that house, but also owns multiple properties around Boulder. She was one of those business savvy Jewish women who knows what she wants and kicks butt when it comes to getting things done. Needless to say, we had an instant connection.

Several of the mornings I was there we shared breakfast together. I also made a quinoa salad one day for lunch and without hesitation she asked if she could have some. I loved her bluntness and she was a hoot to talk to. Of course, as with anywhere I go, I enjoy grilling people on the place that they live and to learn why they love it. One of the things that she kept telling me was that she loved Boulder because the men all stayed 21 with awesome abs and they were always so grateful for a women who knew what she was doing.

Thank you, Joni. Noted.

Joni liked to get things done. During my one week stay with her, I helped her bring a load of stuff to GoodWill, did a few sewing projects since my machine was already out, and helped cook dinner for her and her friends one night at the house. She had suggested that we all do a group meal one of the evenings I was there and of course I was all about it. Goodness knows that I needed the company after several weeks of solitude, so we grilled ribs, I made vegetable kabobs and it was one of the best evenings I’ve had on the road to date.

Two of her friends had just bought a house together in the mountains and had also met on OK Cupid. The woman had just quit her corporate job and was finally really following her dreams. She also happened to be into pet psychics and we got talking about how Simone didn’t particularly love the van. I explained that she loved our apartment because it had a deck and she could be outside at any time and now I have to often leave her in the van by herself when I am working or running errands. What I didn’t tell her was that I also had not yet secured all of the things in the back of the van and sometimes stuff fell on her… I’m sure that didn’t help. Regardless, she gave me advice for how to talk to Simone to help her like the van better. She suggested that I talk to Simone every time we are going somewhere so that she knew what was going on and shouldn’t be worried, but also explain to her why we live in a van and what we are doing. She was adamant that dogs understand what we are telling them through our tone of voice and manner when we talk and it helps calm them. I can’t say I disagree, it was certainly a fascinating conversation.

Another one of Joni’s friends, who was also staying at the house, was Lee. He had been staying there a few months and was on his way to Hawaii to set up sustainable energy projects on the islands. He was essentially going to be a caretaker for a state-wide sustainable energy initiative. Sounded pretty awesome. He had noticed the solar panels I had installed on the van and we ended up talking about the process to install them, how many I had and then got into a long discussion about the amount of energy that is required to make solar panels and if it is so much that it’s not worth it to make them. I learned a ton from him and was definitely envious of his next adventure to tropical paradise.

One of my favorite moments of that night was when the Chinese student, Ying, was FaceTiming another one of his friends in China, speaking Mandarin and explaining the whole evening over the phone. He didn’t know I spoke Chinese, but he was sweet and grateful in his conversation and told his friend he was having a lot of fun with his “Mei Guo peng you”.

That night I felt so at home. I honestly didn’t really want to leave there. I can’t put my finger on why exactly I felt that way, but it probably had to do with the eclectic mix of people who were all there to enjoy the moment, but were also off to their next adventures. There were people from all over the world, and each person was following their dreams. It was refreshing. I cherish that night. I am inspired by those stories. It was a pinnacle moment in time for me where I felt encouraged that I was doing the right thing and simultaneously invigorated by all of the other amazing things I could do if I put my mind to it. Here I was, seeing it all first hand.

Thank you Joni. I can’t wait to have my own wanders’ commune like you do someday.

Things that Go Through My Head on Any Given Day

Van life brings a wide variety of emotions and thoughts on any given day. Here is a bit of flavor into some of the things that run through my head:

  • I love waking up to the sunshine.
  • That is the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
  • I love mornings. I love coffee. I love my dog. I love my life.
  • Why are libraries so hard to find?
  • Why is everyone at this park staring at me?
  • Oh Simone, you are the best travel buddy. So chill. Go with the flow.
  • It’s so awesome that my office can be outside.
  • I’m so glad that I can have my dog with me when I work.
  • No Simone! Don’t attack that dog!
  • I can’t take you anywhere.
  • I should never work outside, I can’t see my computer through the sweat running down my face.
  • Dang it. My MiFi is almost out of data. I need to find WiFi.
  • Simone, don’t bark at that nice old lady. What did she ever do to you.
  • I’m so hungry. Crackers and turkey it is. (again…)
  • I have to pee so bad. I hope no one sees me.
  • Client call. Dear God/universe/higher-power/Allah/whoever, pleaaaaase let the WiFi hold out.
  • I need a quad espresso. STAT.
  • It’s so fun to run somewhere different every day.
  • I wonder if people think I’m homeless.
  • If someone did think I was homeless and offered me food, I’d probably take it.
  • I’m so hungry. Where the hell are the crackers??
  • I miss motorcycles. It would be way more fun to drive into the mountains on motorcycle.
  • Why am I so exhausted, it’s only 8pm.
  • I should write a blog.
  • I am so hungry but too lazy to make anything. Canned baked beans will do.
  • I need to stay awake until it’s dark before I find somewhere to park for the night.
  • Did you hear that?
  • Is that someone trying to break in?
  • Is that someone walking past the van? Why are they walking past the van?
  • Did that car just stop near me?
  • Did that light just flicker?
  • Did someone just come out of that house?
  • Am I going to get kicked out of here?
  • Is it too late to move and park somewhere else?
  • Is it better to stay here because I’m so tired or leave because now I’m paranoid and won’t be able to sleep?
  • Simone would bark if someone was trying to break in.
  • No one cares that I am here, calm down.
  • I just look like someone’s weird cousin parked outside their house.
  • Wait, wasn’t there a weird cousin in Full House who lived in a van?
  • Maybe I should watch Netflix. But the light of the phone might attract attention.
  • I’m always the loneliest at night.
  • I wish it were darker here.
  • No one on the east coast is awake for me to call.
  • Did I remember to plug in my computer?
  • Dang it, my light isn’t charged.
  • I forgot to put ice in the cooler.
  • WHY AM I A FAILURE AT LIFE.
  • Shhhh…. go to sleep… you can deal with it in the morning.

Dating Advice for Women

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about dating tips for men, so I thought it would only be fair to write a follow up post of advice for women. Some of this advice is based on my own personal experience and some is based on things I have heard from my male friends. Enjoy.

#1. Don’t Talk Politics on the First Date

I typically don’t like to talk about controversial topics until at least the 3rd or 4th date when I’m sure that I really like someone. Well, I broke that rule once. I went out on a date with this guy who I knew was trouble even before we met. There was just something about him where I knew that we wouldn’t get along, but he was attractive and liked outdoorsy things, so I thought, why not give it a shot. Is nothing else, it could be a good story, right? Well, it was.

We met for tea because he didn’t drink alcohol and we made small talk about our hobbies and swapped stories about our dogs. He told me about his Snapchat account where he gives little fun facts about history every day and has a pretty big following. I like when someone has a passion project, so that was a plus. I honestly am not sure what happened from there, but before I knew it, everything went downhill. He made some passing comment about how we need more money to invest into our military and I stopped him dead in his tracks. “Pardon me? More money for our military? The organization that we spend trillions of dollars on? Do you know what would happen if we even took a fraction of that money and invested into something like our school system?”

After that, he tried to be polite for about another 15 minutes of the conversation. Then all hell broke loose. We went back and forth about the role of government and how money should be spent. He kept arguing for bigger military so that we can patrol the world, because apparently someone has to do it, he thought it should be the U.S. — at the expense of the quality of life of our children and thus our future as a nation. Then finally at some point I made the statement, “Well, maybe we should just raise taxes. We have the lowest taxes of any developed country, so it’s about time we caught up with the rest of the world, right? Then we’ll have enough money for everything.”

He looked me straight in the face and had an expression like I just killed his dog. He literally got up from his chair and walked out of the cafe.

I think that means I won, right?

#2. Initiate the First Kiss

Listen up, ladies. It’s a sign of a confident woman when you initiate the first kiss. And any time I’ve done this, I’m always met with surprise and delight. I think I can safely say that as women, we know when the date is going well. We’ve got some pretty solid intuition in our brains, so when you know he’s into you and you’re into him — keep him on his toes, do the unexpected.

#3. Give Him Grace

I’ve had more than one man tell me that I should try to give every date a second date, no matter what. The rationale is that men get nervous and often times aren’t really themselves on the first date. Although I don’t always follow that policy, I do like the sentiment of giving the man some grace every now and again. Especially as we get older, I think women can start to formulate this long list of deal breakers and may be ruling out some pretty great guys. Especially when you are first getting to know someone, give the poor man some slack.

For example, he might not always say the right things. I’ve been told that my teeth are crooked, the hair too short or too long, my legs are “thick” or that I’m fat, that I’m too crass for a woman, or too abrasive, or how I’ve ranked in attractiveness compared to other women he’s dated… the list goes on and for completely inappropriate comments that I’ve gotten from men. As much as it doesn’t feel good to be told something like that (and this is not an excuse for men to keep doing it), but I try to give them the benefit of the doubt that they aren’t trying to be malicious. So I guess this point is advice for both women and men – ladies, try to be patient and recognize that he might mess up sometimes and men – lay off the insults. Yes, they are insults and just don’t do it.

#4. Don’t Make the Date an Interview

I’ve heard this time and time again from both male friends and men I have been on dates with: don’t sit down on the first date and just start interviewing the poor man. I know that your time is limited and you probably don’t want to bullshit around. But you’re talking to a human, not an applicant. Even if he’s not your future partner, treat him with a little bit of respect. No matter what his interests are or baggage or job status, I bet that if you just decided to listen like you would listen to any of your close friends, you’ll learn something.

I used to get really nervous when I would go on first dates because I worried that I wouldn’t like him or he wouldn’t like me. Or what if it was awkward, what if I just wanted to leave. But the thing that I would always say to myself is that, everyone has an interesting story. And every person is different than me and could have something to share that I might learn from. So even if we don’t have a lot in common, chances are that if I just view him as another person and not as a potential partner, I will enjoy hearing about whatever experiences he has had.

#5. Be Spontaneous

Men have a tough job – they have to come up with ways to impress you without even really knowing you. Men are usually the ones to plan the first few dates and the woman gets to decide if he’s worth her time. So if something pops up out of the blue that would be super fun to do with that person — take the chance and do it!

One of my (few) actual relationships was with a guy who had been planning a month long trip to southeast Asia, which happens to be one of my favorite places on earth. We hadn’t been dating that long and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to take off much time from work, but I figured, when will be the next time that I am going to have an opportunity to travel with someone else to southeast Asia? It’s hard enough as it is to find people to travel with, let alone across the world with, so I jumped on the opportunity. Within a few weeks, I had a plane ticket to Indonesia and swung my work schedule so that most of my time away was over Christmas and News Years and was able to take just a few days off of work. And let me tell you, it was the trip of a lifetime. I had no idea how beautiful that country is and was blown away at every turn. And since he planned everything, every new adventure was a grand surprise (I love surprises). It was definitely a stretch financially and I had to sacrifice being with my family over the holidays, but truly the adventure of a life time and something that I will never ever forget.

So go ahead, say yes to that crazy adventure. You won’t regret it.

#6. Challenge Him to Try New Things

One of my biggest complaints about men is when they have nothing that they are passionate about. If I ask you what you do with your free time and your response is, “I don’t know, I watch Netflix and sports,” I can guarantee you that you will need to move along. Or worse, if you list off a bunch of hobbies that you did five years ago and it I later find out that all you do is Netflix and sports… you’ll have hell to pay.

There’s little that is more attractive than when a man gets super geeked out over something and pours his heart and soul into it. I’ll speak for myself, but I think a lot of women can relate to the idea that yes, we want to be adored, but we also don’t want to be the center of your universe. Something besides your woman should make you light up in life.

I’ve heard from a lot of men that the same goes for women; sometimes women are just boring. So in order to curb that potential danger, challenge your man to do something new. It doesn’t have to be something crazy like traveling to a different country, but surely you have parts of your life that he hasn’t experienced that you can share with him. Take him to an art museum. Or make him a traditional family meal that you grew up on. Or find a secret spot for a perfect little picnic. Or find the most beautiful location in the city to watch a sunset.

#7. Say Thank You

Even though I believe men and women are equal, I do still like good old fashioned chivalry. But this is a two-sided coin, ladies. When he picks up the tab, say thank you. When he opens the door, say thank you. When he offers to pick you up, before accusing him of being creepy, just take it as a kind gesture (even if you don’t end up taking him up on it). If you’re going to expect to be treated in old fashioned ways, then you better respond with old fashioned politeness. I think as women we sometimes believe we deserve or are owed something from men. Don’t be a pretentious diva. If you want him to be a gentleman, then be a lady.