#003 – Unlearning

Going from corporate to digital nomadism and freelancing is a journey that requires to start fresh.

After having spent years in classrooms, behind your desk in a corporate job, talking with friends and colleagues, and reading or watching TV, movies, social medias, … I bet, you’ve picked a few things on how “work” is supposed to look like.

I came to this since I have started working on my own. I realized that my work week was somewhat very different from everything I have learned and been programmed for. I had to unlearn a few things in those 4 distinct areas in order to re-learn properly so that I could fully benefit from this new status.

In a previous life, I was stressed by the fact that I had to be in the office while I was already dealing with calls and emails out of the “office hours”. It’s not that it was mandatory per say but I guess it was commonly accepted.

I had a great team who was quite autonomous and processes seemed to be working well. Lots of my teammate were anyway out of the office on a regular basis.

Now, my work week looks a bit different and I had to unlearn a few things in order to embrace it.

When one is supposed to work mostly from Mondays to Fridays, and from 9 am to 7 or 8 pm, while being off the grid during holidays, a freelancer or what we call now a “digital nomad” has to be organized very differently.

When I was corporate, due to my responsibilities and my autonomy, nobody really told me where I should be nor what I should be doing for that matter but the society, the education, the peers, … made me part of the “Office Hours” way of life where Saturdays are for fun and sport, Sundays for rest and family, and Mondays to Fridays are for work.

Now, I answer emails when I have the time to do it, and it means it can be before my coffee in the morning, after dinner, on Sunday mornings, or from the pool in Thailand for that matter,… I meet people when they are available, and squeeze holidays between 2 hectics weeks.

Freedom is one of the advantage that I would not trade off anymore.

I realized that being attached to a location was making me miserable in some ways. I always have been working a lot but I also knew that I could get things done without being sitting at a desk either and I had to unlearn a lot of things and now the game is different.

So, here are a few things that are making things very different and that you have to re-learn in order to get the most of your new “work on the go” way of life.

1/ Localization

In many countries, having employees in “home office” and even “remote office” is now a common thing.

Companies are getting used to it and it is becoming part of their HR strategy. But for this generation of young entrepreneurs, we are talking about “Digital Nomadism”. Technology is making things easier for someone to work remotely from a coffee shop, a coworking space, or his home and it can be from the same city block or from the other side of the world.

This means less commute, you can start working whenever you find wifi, a place where to sit, and a good cup of coffee.

This was a big change for me.

Being able to work wherever you get a spark of creativity, wherever in the world you can be. No more the hustles of having to cross the city if it’s pouring outside, or being stressed for not being “on time” at the office when nothing is actually waiting for you there.

But this requires to set-up a few things.

2/ Management

That’s an important point.

How can you get things done properly without a team you’d ask ?

Freelancers are blossoming here and there. They are easy to find, to contract, or try and change if needed. However, this is not so much about that, but really more about how to manage them since you do not see them at the coffee machine during the office break, or even work on the same timeline.

I personally use Trello.com. It’s a great tool to manage a project with people based in different locations. I will use a more personal channel to connect on a different level on the side (such as WhatsApp / WeChat). But more on how I deal with it on #002 – Delegating

Checking on the on-going projects regularly is a must and leave them with some room for creativity.

Going by a few rules of productivity, I especially follow the 80/20 principle (Pareto principle) for everything. If I have no added value to do a task, i will quickly find someone or a solution to get it done in a much more efficient way.

I only focus on the very thing that :

  1. I need to do
  2. I like to do
  3. I know how to do quickly.

As I always say, if I need some design work to be done, I have the choice of spending a few days practicing on Photoshop and get something close to ugly out. Or I can find someone that will do it in no time and for a few bucks while I am doing things that I want to do and where I am good at.

This doesn’t require me to think too much about it. And so, shouldn’t you.

3/ Connectivity

Emails, WhatsApp, WeChat, Skype, Messenger,… will not let you down and don’t worry because you will be easily tracked around the world.

Most of the tourist destinations are now offering very affordable deal to get a sim card with a local phone number and  packages with unlimited data.

This one has always been easy for me, but now, having a proper conference call scheduled from an hotel room in Saigon when some people will consider as being on holidays with a strict “no work allowed during holidays” policy applied.

Let’s say that now I tend to leave the city much more frequently than official holidays would allow it without nobody really noticing not even your client on the other side of the line (and I think people tend to care less and less about how and where you do things as long as it’s done.)

4/ Timing :

How is a usual work day ?

Peaks of communications can be early in the morning when people start working. You can set meetings around noon time and follow up or finishing up your day in the late afternoon before heading for some social events or some other relaxing time.

If you manage well your mornings and afternoons, it can give you a lot of room to do other things you’d like (from anywhere you’d like).

Depending on your projects and work, you now have more time in hand also because your work day is spread out from 7am to 12 am if you’d like. And this can be over the 7 days of a week.

Work doesn’t have to be painful ! For me, it also means no Sunday night blues, no “back to school” feeling,

I definitely work more than before in terms of hours, but I do it when I want to, and that’s the key.

In order to gain the control of your life back, you need to get over some principles and unlearned what you’ve been programmed for. Reboot your operating system, and start fresh by putting the things in order like you’d like them to be.

For me, I believe it took around 6 months. What about you ?


I am still very new at this and still trying to make the most of it, so tell me how everything is working out for you or where you are struggling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *