Today's post brings us some remote work insights from web designer and remote lifestyle coach Sergio Sala!
From his home base in Mexico, Sergio Sala decided to offer web design services through the internet giving him the chance to work anywhere. Following a minimalist lifestyle (carrying only one backpack), he has travelled to more than 100+ cities, 35+ countries and lived for months in several cities, and now he inspires and helps others to work online and travel the world through his youtube channel and online classes.
First, can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
Born in Mexico, but for the last seven years I have lived in more than 20 cities and travelled around 100 cities in 40 countries. I'm documenting the challenges of being a digital nomad on my YouTube channel, showing reviews of cities adapted for nomads, advantages of being a minimalist, tours of several coliving spaces and some adventures along the way. I design websites part-time for online entrepreneurs that sell products using their personal brand, and I'm also running a Spanish community for people who want to start this lifestyle.
What does your remote workday look like? Does it change?
As I juggle multiple projects, every day might be different, but I try to keep consistency on some key points. Early mornings I drink coffee and check the calendar to kickstart the day. Making and editing videos takes a lot of time, so I try to schedule in advance the days that I will stay home and edit videos, and when I tour around a city to record the experience. I also schedule days for client work, which usually means calls and design proposals. On the weekend I write articles, improve my courses and check how can I help my Spanish audience. If my day doesn't go as planned, I'm flexible to change things. But I'm always checking my planning goals to see if I'm progressing on any project.
What tools do you use to get things done?
After trying many productivity tools, I finally settled on using Notion. Notion helps me keep everything in track, such as the editorial calendar, weekly/monthly/yearly plans and documentation of all my projects. I have reduced the use of many apps while only using Notion - it’s really the tool that rules them all. The only missing feature is calendar syncing, so I use Google Calendar with Calendly to schedule with others. For meetings, I use Zoom or Whereby. And Dropbox is my go-to cloud storage where I keep every digital thing that I use.
What’s the biggest challenge of remote work?
When we go from a normal job to being remote, we deal with a lack of productivity because we are not really used to managing our time. I struggled many times to keep myself on the working zone because there are so many distractions and there's no boss checking on me all the time, which is related to the other big challenge: a sense of loneliness. That's why I think we still need to be in constant contact with other people even if everything is remote. I have a Slack channel where I talk with some other friends that run similar remote businesses. and that's how we hold ourselves accountable.
What are the advantages of remote work?
Saving yourself hours of commute every day is a great benefit. I love that I can just wake up, make a filtered coffee, take a breath and just open the computer to start working (I might even be wearing pyjamas). Remote work is my gateway to the main liberties I care for in life: freedom to choose what I want to do in my life, freedom of generating income at my will (especially being self-employed), freedom to choose times to work or relax (if your calendar is organized) and freedom to choose where in the world I want to keep working (with visa exceptions).
What’s the future of remote work? What’s next and why?
We are just in baby steps about the possibilities of the 3.0 revolution (meaning remote work). More companies are accepting the idea that employees can work home (or anywhere) up to the point, as my friend Peter Levels said, we will reach 1 billion of remote workers in 2030. Maybe we will see Virtual Reality conferences, but I think there are going to be more on-presence conferences as people crave for connection when most of the things are online. Even countries, such as Thailand or Colombia, are finally suggesting new visa methods for online work, so I hope the world will become more open to everyone.
What made you consider remote work?
(People, books, research, job)My story goes a long way when I was just 14 years, as I decided to build my first website. Little that I know it was the key to everything. Fast forward many years, I stumbled upon the blog of Chris Guillebeau and Tim Ferris along his infamous book 4 Hour Workweek. By reading their content for months, I got inspired and left my architect career behind to offer services of web design as a freelancer. It was struggling at the beginning but eventually got enough traction to sustain myself and therefore I started travelling with my work.
What are your favourite destinations in the world? Why?
A question I get asked so much that’s really hard to answer… because I just love so many places! I can start saying, a little biased, that my country Mexico has many great cities to enjoy remote work. The landscape is so different from corner to corner that every city can feel very different; Mexico City is amazing for its multicultural environment and local food, Playa del Carmen offers great beach and relax time and Guadalajara brings the traditional Mexican vibe. I like big cities like Barcelona and New York because there is always something to do. I also enjoy the Asian culture and lifestyle - Chiang Mai is near the top of my list because the food is amazing, the weather is usually chill, and the people are welcoming to any foreigner. I’m telling you, once you get to know more places in the world, it’s really hard to choose just one spot.
What do people who want to work with you need to have? (Qualities, experience, recommendations, etc.)
As remote work comes down to timelines, I’m looking for people that are top-notch in their productivity skills so we can reach any goal without checking on everyone’s progress all the time. Ideally, I enjoy working with people are proactive, that always suggest new ways to solve a problem or tries to one step ahead. And the key to good work, in my opinion, is to always communicate every single step, no matter what happens.