On October 14, 2015 Ryan and I packed up the last of our belongings into the U-Haul and began the two-day drive from our Tyler, TX home to our new apartment in Boulder, Colorado.
Whether you do it yourself, or hire long distance movers, moving across the country is a completely life-altering, productivity-hindering, put-a-wrench-in-your-health-and-sanity experience.
To help overcome this crazy hurdle of being in transit and not having a home office to work on freelance projects, I created a mobile office that would allow me to work in any environment.
Perks of being a location independent freelancer
Before we get into the checklist for creating a portable office, here’s why you should think about putting together a mobile one in the first place.
Now that I have my mobile office set up I can grab one thing and head out the door within just a few seconds. In the event I have to cover a last-minute conference, prep for a weekend getaway, or simply head to a coffee shop for a few hours of productivity, having a “grab and go box” makes it stupidly easy.
You’re also taking everything with you that you would need when working from home so your brain won’t feel out of place and you can still produce work in a high quality fashion.
Essentials for a portable office
When creating your portable office, whether it’s for a workcation, moving, or road trip, here’s a checklist of some essentials that are must-haves.
Nearly all of the products in my portable office I purchased from Amazon and have links to each one below. This will help you put together your own mobile office so you can become location independent this week!
1. Portable file box
A portable file box is the perfect way to keep all of your work-related supplies and gadgets organized and safe. I purchased mine from Amazon but you can also head to your local Office Depot and get one for $20.
Recommended buy: Letter-size mobile file box
2. Chromebook, laptop or tablet
I actually have a Dell laptop that I use in my home office and an Acer Chromebook for when I travel. I do this because most of my freelance work is done online or in Google Drive and the Chromebook is a lot lighter and the battery life is insanely long! Little-known fact; a Chromebook is the perfect size to fit in side a letter-sized portable file box.
Recommended buy: 11.6 inch Acer chromebook
3. Moleskin or notebook
Even if you’re a digital junkie it’s important to have a good notebook or Moleskin on hand at all times. You never know when you’ll have to jump on a client call and need to make some quick notes. Or when an idea for a course, blog post, or newsletter will pop into your brain.
Recommended buy: Moleskin classic notebook
4. Wifi hotspot
You always, always, always want to have a backup source of internet connection. I recommend the Karma Wifi hotspot because it doesn’t have a monthly attached to it and the data you purchase never expires. You could also turn your phone into a hotspot and use that data in a crunch.
Recommended buy: Karma wifi hotspot
5. Portable charger
Again, it’s always a good idea to have a backup charger. I experienced this the hard way last year when I was at a conference in New Orleans. If your computer doesn’t have power, you’re not making money. A car charger is also a pretty cheap and smart backup option.
Recommended buy: Portable car charger
It’s been proven that wearing earbuds or headphones can help limit distractions and allow you to focus on the current task. Invest in a comfortable pair that you can take with you everywhere.
Recommended buy: Sony earbuds (in black)
7. Post-it notes and pens
You can never have too many post-it notes (in multiple colors), pens, or Sharpies. I like to keep a good supply of all of these on hand at all times.
Recommended buy: Stack of Post-it notes
Yes, I still carry around a physical checkbook for emergency purchases (like the security deposit at our new apartment). Sometimes it can save you the $25 credit card convenience fee when paying in person versus paying online.
Recommended: Choose from one of these bank accounts
9. Carmex (or other lip moisturizer)
I’m a Chapstick and Carmex fanatic. It’s one of those things I take with me everywhere I go. #dontjudgeme So naturally I always have several of these in my portable office.
Recommended buy: 3-pack of Carmex
10. Hand sanitizer and lotion
When visiting different states and climates, your skin can get majorly dried out so having hand sanitizer and lotion available will help you stay clean and moisturized.
Recommended buy: Purell hand sanitizer
11. Portable mouse
I always carry a small cordless mouse with me. This makes it much easier to whip out my Chromebook and get to work. No annoying cords to deal with and the mouse is small enough that I can take it with me anywhere.
Recommended buy: Logitech wireless mouse
12. Water bottle
Don’t forget to have a water bottle close by so you don’t get dehydrated. I like to have a reusable water bottle handy, since I drink so much throughout the day.
Recommended buy: Aluminium water bottle
The point of a mobile office is to be completely self-sufficient so you don’t have to get up and down and be interrupted 100 times because “my lips are chapped,” “I’m thirsty” and all the other distractions we face. 🙂
Set a regular schedule
My good friend, and fellow artist Steph, suggested setting a regular schedule to stay productive on the go.
After putting her advice into effect I was able to stay on top of all my work (taking on 5 extra freelance projects and earning my highest grossing month ever!) while in the middle of a cross-country move.
Get up at the same time every day
Even if you don’t have work to do that day, getting up at the same time will help you stay in a regular routine and avoid any jetlag or timezone craziness.
Bring a familiar item from home
Bring something with you that you use everyday while in your home office. This could be a mug, candle, or your favorite notebook. Having something familiar that you use everyday while being mobile will make you feel much more comfortable with your surroundings.
Honestly communicate with friends and family
Ryan and his family are some of the most supportive people when it comes to running a mobile freelance business. Both he and his family understand that I need time to answer emails, jump on coaching calls, and work on freelance writing projects.
However, this is only understand because I’ve had honest conversations about the fact that I’m the breadwinner and need to provide for us.
One of the best things about being an online business owner is that you can work from anywhere and take your business with you as you travel. Don’t let your work get disrupted simply because you aren’t prepared.
Use this checklist and these tips to create your mobile office and start being productive from anywhere!
Do you travel and freelance? What are some of your must-have items that you need to be productive?