Today, we’re sharing our interview with Lydia Lee, the Freedom Instigator at Screw The Cubicle. For the last 5 years, she’s been coaching corporate escapees by helping them repurpose their skills to start a business.
Originally from Vancouver, now based in Bali, she spends her time teaching people how to quit the jobs that are crushing their souls, discover their hidden talents, and make money doing something they love (and will care about).
Lydia’s work has been published in Forbes, The Huffington Post, and featured in Elle Canada and The Telegraph newspaper.
You can find out more about her work at Screw The Cubicle, and learn how to kickstart your career and lifestyle change in her free training.
How Does Your Remote Workday Look Like?
My remote workday usually starts with coaching calls in the morning, since most of my clients are from North America. It’s the perfect timezone to be in Bali strategically, as my clients are available after their 9-5 workdays. This means I usually work in my mornings and have the afternoons free to go to yoga classes, swim in the many jungle pools in Bali, or create the space I need to work on my business.
My days can change depending on the projects I’m working on. I tend to like ‘sprints,’ and may work more during a project launch, and then take off a few weeks for a break. I like the flexibility of choosing to work more when I want, and resting when I need to.
What Tools Do You Use to Get Things Done?
I work with a lot of remote contractors who are part of my team from the US and the Philippines. Primarily, I’ve liked using Asana for project management, Zoom for team calls, and Calendly to have an easy way to book appointments without the back and forth email.
What’s the Biggest Challenge of Remote Work?
The ability to keep focus and create the container for work can be challenging when I was traveling a lot. After 5 years of being a digital nomad, I now know I am most productive when I have a quiet place to work (usually my villa), and a separate time to have leisure time. The ‘real life’ of a nomadic person with a business isn’t what you always see out there (i.e. the cool photos on Instagram of them working on the beach with their laptop – do you know how hot a laptop gets in the sun?!).
Being able to separate work and play has been essential to getting stuff done, but also having the lifestyle freedom I love.
What Are the Advantages of Remote Work?
I love how I am in charge of choosing how I want to spend my time and when I do my work. There are certain months I get my best ideas at night, and certain times I am way more productive in the day. I truly enjoy having autonomy over my lifestyle choices.
My health and wellbeing have been very important to me after experiencing a debilitating burnout and health scare many years ago as a corporate employee. Being able to work remotely has allowed me to make choices on where I want to live that brings me joy, what I get to experience every day, and still make a living on the road.
What’s the Future of Remote Work?
It’s very exciting that remote work is becoming more of an option not just for freelancers and entrepreneurs, but also for employees. Remote work can really provide a win-win scenario for employers and employees alike. Employers save money on not needing to provide an office space, and employees feel happier not needing to sit in long commutes or live in expensive cities to have access to great jobs. I believe this new future of work will really motivate people to value their jobs more, when it doesn’t restrict their lifestyle choices. And happier people just do better work!
With the increase of technology and communication tools that are easy for even non-techy people to adapt to, this will be a gamechanger. What’s next would be an exciting time – people having the freedom to choose where they live and how they spend their time. With rising costs of real estate and cost of living in every major city, the idea of using a geoarbitrage strategy to keep more of our hard-earned money, having savings, and more choices will be a positive change for every professional that feels stifled living paycheck to paycheck.
What Made You Consider Remote Work?
I’ve always been a traveler at heart, and knew how much changing environment can enhance my growth as a human. Though I did read the 4 Hour Work Week which planted the seed in my head, it wasn’t until I met a German man on a boat trip in Malaysia when I was on a holiday that really made me feel I can do it. He was also a service based professional and had similar skills to me. He wasn’t a programmer or tech person that I always saw case studies on when I looked at digital nomad examples. I find that when we meet people in real life that share similarities as us, it makes the reality to do it more real for us vs. reading books or following an influencer.
What Are Your Favorite Destinations in the World?
Of course, Bali has been one of my favorites and my home base here has been quite lovely. I’m a big fan of Cascais in Portugal, and my recent trip to Penang, Malaysia, has made that spot one of my top favorites! Food is always a big part of my enjoyment of a place. Good and stable wifi is another. Most importantly, a community is what makes the difference for me – having access to like-minded people with similar values and lifestyle choices.
What People Who Want to Work with You Need to Have?
The most ideal people I work with are people that are talented in the work they do, have proven skills, and crave a different way to earn a living with them. I work with people who don’t want to escape work, but want to create great work that gives them meaning (and pays the bills). This really counts for having a sustainable business because if you care about what you’re creating in the world, you’ll have far more fuel in the game to keep growing your body of work that will feel purposeful.
Whatever the motivation, the thread that’s most common within my tribe is this: We want to create meaningful work that deeply satisfies us, and have the freedom to do it on our terms.