Creating a Mobile Office: How to Work From Anywhere (free checklist!)

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In October 2015 my husband and I packed up the last of our belongings, and began the two-day drive from our home in TX to our new apartment in 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.

A mobile office is the perfect answer to an otherwise unorganized and dysfunctional working environment. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a simple office on the go.

Here’s how to get started!

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 creating a mobile 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 less than $20.

Office Depot Large Mobile File Box, Letter Size, Clear/Burgundy Price: $15.59

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.

Acer Chromebook 11.6-Inch Laptop (Intel Celeron N2840 Dual-Core Processor, 2 GB RAM,16 GB Solid State Drive), White Price: $172.78

3. Moleskine or notebook

Even if you’re a digital junkie it’s important to have a good notebook or Moleskine 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.

Moleskine Classic Notebook, Brilliant Violet, Hard Cover (3.5 x 5.5) Classic Notebook Price: $9.01

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 fee attached to it.

You’ll want to look for a hotspot that doesn’t charge excess fees. You can also turn your phone into a hotspot and use that data in a crunch.

Karma Go Wifi Hotspot, 2.3 ounces, Battery lasts 6 to 8 hours, Fast 6 to 8 Mbps, Nationwide LTE Network Price: $139

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.

Anker 24W Dual USB Car Charger, PowerDrive 2 for iPhone, Google, Samsung and More Price: $9.99

6. Earbuds

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.

Black Sony Noise Cancelling Earbuds, BOTUO Wired Bass In Ear Headphones with Mic & Volume Control Price: $18.99

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.

Post-it Super Sticky Notes, 3 in x 3 in, Marrakesh Collection, 5 Pads/Pack (654-5SSAN) Price: $7.89

8. Checkbook

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. Choose from one of these bank accounts!

Digit - A Savings Account to Save Money Without Thinking Price: Try it free for 100 days!

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.

Carmex Classic Flavored Lip Balm 0.35 oz, 3 ea (Pack Of 3) Price: $5.63

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.

PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Portable Bottles - 1 oz. Variety Pack Travel Sized Jelly Wrap Bottles (Case of 8) - 3909-09-ECSC Price: $15.00

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.

Logitech Wireless Mouse M325 with Designed-For-Web Scrolling, Red Price: $12.89

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.

MIRA Vacuum Insulated Travel Water Bottle | Leak-proof Double Walled Stainless Steel Sports Water Bottle | Keeps Drinks Hot & Cold | 25 Oz (750 ml) Price: $18.95

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 below and these tips to create your mobile office and start being productive from anywhere!

Are you location independent? What are some of your must-have items that you need to be productive?

Learn how to work from anywhere by creating a mobile office that's simple and effective. Get the free checklist so you can create a portable office on the go as a location independent freelancer!

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  1. Cat says:

    I need to get my stuff a little more organized as it seems I always forget something whenever I’m working from somewhere other than home. Great checklist!

  2. Lisa says:

    I enjoyed seeing your explanation of each item in your portable workstation! The power charger seems to be the one I’m most likely to forget. Thanks for the checklist!

    • Carrie says:

      Isn’t it strange that we always forget the power charger? I’ve done it more times than I want to admit but thank goodness my husband always brings an extra one!

  3. Cathy says:

    Great timing! I just started a part-time job where I go to their office a couple times a week, but due to their security protocol or lack thereof, I don’t want to plug any of my precious computer hard/software into theirs so I’ve been lugging all my own items – making for one very crammed computer bag. After reading this, I’m planning on putting a portable office together today!

  4. Kat says:

    Carrie, Great piece. I work while I travel at least couple times a month and sometimes it is really hard to concentrate or keep your routine going on the road. I find that even having my regular snacks + coffee brand available, regardless where I am at is really helpful when I need to get myself in front of the computer :).

  5. Stefania says:

    Finally! I’ve been searching for resources about what to do when you finally land that remote or freelance lifestyle! All I’ve been able to find is the “how to get a location indepentent job” so this is wonderful!

  6. Emily says:

    What a great tip! Working from home creates a whole new set of road blocks than traditional 9-5 jobs might not; I would have never thought of doing this! Love it, thanks for sharing!

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