What I now wile away the hours looking at when I should be writing
So, been living in Malta for two weeks now and loving it. Still feels like summertime here and I have a beach (of sorts) on my doorstep. Only problem is I have to constantly fight the urge to jump in a taxi and go exploring when I should be switching on my laptop. So Iâ€™m already having to make a few adjustments to the way I work.
For anybody else thinking of packing a bag and working from another country, here are a few tips you might find useful:
Buy a laptop â€“ An essential piece of kit for the nomadic, remote writer. Even if youâ€™re working from home, being able to change your location (even if itâ€™s just a different room) can help kick start your creativity and break through writerâ€™s block.
Setup remote data backup â€“ Services such as Mozy (free up to 2GB) can be setup to automatically backup important files on your laptop throughout the day. Perfect for when you need to access Word documents from an internet cafe or if, heaven forbid, your laptop gets stolen.
Setup an online number using Skype â€“ Itâ€™s now possible to have a phone number, which appears like a landline number, you can use to make and receive calls on your laptop. It costs Â£11.50 for three months and enables you to receive low cost calls from anywhere in the world. Just be careful when dialling out â€“ calling landlines costs less than peanuts but calling mobiles abroad will munch through your credit.
Upgrade to a smartphone â€“ For times when youâ€™re away from your laptop or canâ€™t get internet access a smartphone can keep you connected to clients. Being able to respond to emails and phone calls from wherever you are helps ensure projects donâ€™t grind to a halt because youâ€™re still strolling around the old part of the city.
Be aware of time zones â€“ In Malta Iâ€™m one hour ahead of the UK, which means I have to be ready to receive work calls and emails later in the day than I normally would. On the plus side, it gives me an extra hour to have another read through that article I promised would be in their inbox first thing.
Keep track of your hours â€“ It can be tempting to go exploring during the day when youâ€™re living in a foreign city. But this can eat into your writing output if you donâ€™t make up for it later on in the day. I find recording the hours I work and setting myself daily targets helps me to stay on track.
Become a paperless office â€“ If youâ€™re used to sending out paper invoices consider switching to PDF. PDF Redirect V2 is a free application that enables you to create PDFs from Word, Pagemaker and many other programs. Emailing PDF invoices, rather than posting them, also means you have a record of when they were received and can send instant reminders.
Setup internet banking â€“ Internet banking enables you to keep your accounts up-to-date and to track your expenses without having to rely on someone back home sending on paper statements (although you might still need them for your end of year accounts).
Check your tax obligations – And whilst on the subject of accounts, make sure to check what your tax obligations are in a new country. In the EU the general rule is that you pay tax in whichever country you spend more than six months in. If youâ€™re spending, say, four months in three different countries itâ€™s a good idea to speak to an international consultant. Tax evasion is a minefield best avoided.