Today’s guest contributor is Natalie Sisson. Natalie is the “Suitcase Entrepreneur” – traveling the world living out of her suitcase and running her business. She blogs about it at WomanzWorld where a tribe of women entrepreneurs gather who want to create freedom in business and adventure in life.
Like most of you, when Jonathan spent his month in Bali earlier this year, I was a little envious and also curious to see how he would handle creating great works of art and being a fantastic consultant while traveling.
I was particularly intrigued at all the camera and video gear he laid out in a video on the floor that he was packing up to report back to use with. About the same time I embarked on my own adventure. I had just one Nikon Camera, two lenses, my laptop and an iPod.
Landing in Prague, Czech Republic, I was primed and ready to compete at the World Club Ultimate Frisbee Championships. Yes Ultimate is a sport; it’s also addictive and one of my passions along with travel and entrepreneurship.
I have never known a sport that allows me to travel the world and hang out with an amazing community of like-minded, free-spirited intellectuals who love to have fun.
However the week long tournament made me realize that my aspirations of traveling and working on my blog and business products were going to be far more challenging than I thought. I was relieved to read that even someone as accomplished as Jonathan had a tough time in Bali.
I found out all too soon that second rate Wi-Fi in a sweltering second dingy hotel lobby is not conducive to creating great work. I could barely focus on writing for my blog or engaging with my community of women entrepreneurs, let alone focus on beating the rest of the world with a Frisbee!
Once the tournament was over though things started to take on a new light. I realized that somewhere in the midst of infrequent internet access I had the beauty of real freedom.
I could work anywhere, not only in cafes and restaurants but on trains, buses, hydrofoils, park benches and town squares! I became a pro at using my offline time to really focus and achieve. I would write to my heart content, inspired by my surroundings, the culture, languages, history and ever-changing landscape.
Thanks to a tip by Chris Guillebeau I set up gmail offline which was a life savior. I could reply to each and every person, take time to read through emails and give thoughtful responses and then know that when I connected up it would all be sent.
People thought I was crazy emailing at 5am – but little did they know that was 8pm in Croatia, Slovakia or Slovenia and I was living in a totally different part of the world to them.
If anything the traveling element helped me to work smarter. I would steal bits of time during my traveling days to work on one project only.
It gave rise to great experimentation – what if I didn’t tweet for a while, what if I wrote several blog posts in a row, scheduled them out and let my systems do the distribution work?
One day I spent 12 hours in a row building my community then left it for a weekend to play a fun tournament and on Monday things had exploded. All that effort had paid off.
This constant need I’d developed back at home for checking in `just one more time’, for analyzing updates to numbers and figures and insights was really not necessary.
Sure you need to keep a handle on whether what you’re doing is effective and measure and track results on whether you’re providing insight, intelligence and inspiration, but it benefits you to step away and to let your garden grow after you’ve tended to it.
You need to allow room in your mind for creativity and expansion and to use the places you travel to – even if only locally, as the mechanism to achieve that flow.
My travels proved to me that the North American lifestyle I had got caught up in was not one that was doing me any good. Doing away with my iPhone and being offline more was one of the best moves I have ever made.
Instead I got to read fiction novels, write, listen to music, reflect, have animated discussions about other peoples’ lives, their history, their traditions and language, and learn so that I could in turn teach.
I quickly learned that many Europeans have a great attitude to leading a balanced life. Shorter work hours and a singular focus on their role. Afternoons and evenings spent with loved ones and friends, plus plenty of recreational time and a pace of life. Life just seemed easier.
The creative time I made for myself each day while travelling is such a wonderful cycle to adopt into your everyday life. Whether you’re travelling or not, that time you make for yourself is more important than I could have ever imagined.
Disconnecting, unplugging and being at one with your own thoughts is the best investment you can make in your day.
Try it now.
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