3 Changes You Can Make Today to Start Your Escape To Location Independence

Posted by   Annette on    September 15, 2013

This is just a three-item checklist, but it packs a punch. Taking these actions today will put you much closer to your nomadic goal.

These three actions will go far towards removing the biggest stressors of the first few months -- communication, project-tracking and information access -- so you can focus on the important stuff: growing your business and enjoying your new life. 

small__5933534205.jpg1. Train people to stop calling you.

Your phone is not a business tool when you're working remote from overseas. It's a toy and a novelty. Your bread-and-butter will be email, and you'll need to train your coworkers, vendors and clients to use it. Luckily, that's not as Herculean a project as it may sound.

  • Get Google Voice. (It's free.)
  • Replace your current phone number with your GV number anywhere it appears -- business cards, email signatures, websites, social pages, billing information, etc.
  • Whenever remotely possible, never pick up a call. GV will record a message, transcribe it (sometimes hilariously) and email you the message.
  • Clean up the transcription in your email, then reply to the message as an email instead of picking up the phone. To do this, switch out Google Voice's reply-to address with the address of the person who left you the message. Nine times of ten, you will have this handy.
  • Instead of replying to phone calls with a text message from your mobile number, download the Google Voice app on your smartphone and SMS replies only from there. (To make it even easier and more archivable, you can also use your email to respond to SMSs.) 

2. Train yourself to track your own progress in a precise, visual way. 

Even if you've been a mercenary freelancer for a while, the chaos of constant (or even semi-constant) travel will be surprisingly derailing. Keep your projects on the rails with a cloud-based tool like the one I use

Start doing this now, before you launch, so it'll be rote habit by the time you start moving around.

3. Thow yourself a scan-and-shred party.


Y'know those file cabinets? Take one weekend day -- or, perhaps, a few hours scattered over the course of several evenings -- and empty them. 

Throw away what you don’t need. This New York Times article is a nice reference point for what needs to be kept and what can be safely disposed of.  

Keep your new "file cabinet" in the cloud. I use a combination of Google Drive and Dropbox, but Amazon Cloud Drive, Mozy Stash, and others are excellent options as well. This will make sure that all of your vital documents are close at hand when you need them -- and you will, in the most inopportune moments, need access to documents like the deed to your house, or your birth certificate, or the title to your car, or your medical records.

I chose to send all my old physical photographs in to a photo scanning service to save myself hours and hours of fuss, and to send my backlog of receipts for Shoeboxed to scan in for me. I'm happy I did so. I bet you will be, too.

The idea is not to use a hard drive. Hard drives are horrifyingly unreliable -- they can crash, be stolen, end up lost in a luggage mishap, or any number of other nightmares.