Where are you right now? That’s not a trick question. I’m not asking you to analyze your journey through the world; I’m talking about your physical location right now, as you read these words.
Now, where would you be if you could choose to be anywhere in the world right at this moment?
If you’re reading this while at work, the answer to those two questions is probably not the same. Our jobs and our lives require us to do things we don’t want to do every day.
If you work for an employer, keeping your job might mean getting up before you’d like to, dressing in professional clothes, navigating traffic you’d rather avoid, and arriving at your workplace by a set time. The same restrictions apply every work day, even if it’s a spectacular fall morning and you’d rather be outside than sitting at your desk.
Even professionals who work from home tend to have location restrictions. An employer can still require those employees with work-from-home arrangements to live locally and to attend in-person meetings. Unless you’re truly your own boss and work entirely remotely, you’re not really free to live and work from anywhere.
Work-from-home arrangements are nothing new, but a less common arrangement could be the next wave of workplace trends. It’s called work from anywhere (WFA), and making it work could require a shift in your time management strategies.
Nailing Time Management From Anywhere On Earth
Could you be more productive if there were zero geographical restrictions on where you worked?
That’s the gist of a recent article in the Harvard Business Review. Researchers from Harvard and Northeastern University studied the results of a work-from-anywhere program that was offered to patent examiners at the U.S. Patent & Trade Office starting in 2012. When the patent examiners were allowed to shift to WFA arrangements, productivity actually increased by 4.4 percent. There were benefits to the workers, too, not just the employer. Some moved to new cities or relocated to areas with a lower cost of living. Because their salaries didn’t change, workers who moved to cheaper areas were able to keep more of their earnings.
So what does this have to do with you? After all, work is probably not the only thing keeping you in your current location. Family, cost of living, culture and climate are major factors too. But I think there’s value in thinking about how you’d respond if given that much locational freedom.
Your physical location – and whether you’re happy with it – plays a major role in your job satisfaction and performance.
If you could design your ideal productive work environment, what would it be? Could you answer emails from a hammock on the Mexican beach? Would you be more productive in a log cabin in the woods than you are at your desk in a big city?
Assessing how you feel about your current location and working environment is also helpful in clarifying the kind of life you want for yourself.
It’s probably not feasible, for your life or the nature of your work, to actually relocate your home base to a Mexican hammock. But if that’s the ideal life you dream for yourself, can you start making moves that will allow you to take the time for a long beach vacation? Or at least find ways to build more time for relaxation into your daily life?
Making more time for yourself is one of those things that sounds simple but isn’t. It requires you to change the way you approach your whole life including how you manage your time, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
My upcoming Time Matters Boot Camp LIVE! is designed to help you build the time management system that allows you to find that time and achieve the balance you want in your life. I’ll be running this information-packed session December 5th through 7th, outside Boston. Click here for details! I’d love to see you there! (PS Super Early Bird Pricing Ends October 15th, 2019.)