A key component to The 4-Hour Workweek lifestyle is liberation from the office. The main idea is that once you are working remotely, you are not beholden to the clock but rather to your productivity. Once liberated from your cubicle, you can freely outsource and automate as much of your work as possible. Taken to the extreme, you provide all of the deliverables required of your job as you sip margaritas on the beach while some guy in India does all the work.
Up until now, I have been treading very safely on my 4-hour workweek quest. Too safely. On Friday I decided to do a simple, but meaningful experiment in liberation. I had arranged with my employer to work from home on Friday. However, I had a slightly different plan. Instead of working from home, I would work from another country! I wanted to see if my employer would know any better. I figured by limiting the experiment to a single day I could mitigate any real risks, for example, if it all went to hell I could call in and feign sickness or something like that.
Preparations For The Great Escape
Of course, in order to pull this off, I needed a plan!
First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.
- Napoleon Hill
- A Laptop with all the software I would need to access my email and office files. I have covered these before in my post on Tools For The Mobile Office.
- A cell phone with a decent voice plan to take and make calls from Canada. I set up my home phone to forward all calls to my cell phone.
- A Blackberry so I could respond to email if I was not in the vicinity of a wi-fi network.
- A hotel reservation in Montreal.
- A full tank of gas.
On Thursday evening after work, unbeknownst to my employer, I left Boston and headed north to Montreal, Canada under the cover of darkness. It's about a 5 hour drive and I got into Montreal just before midnight. It was all very clandestine. I used the hotel's complimentary Internet access to check email. I did a little bit of the work I would have started in the morning had I worked from home. Crucially, I staged all my email in my drafts folder. I waited until after breakfast the next day to send these out, making it look as if I was already knee deep in work from my desk at home. The stealth!
Next, I spent the day exploring the city. It's a nice place, and if you have never been, I highly recommend a visit - it's a like a little bit of Europe in North America. I made sure to stop every hour or so to put in 30 to 60 minutes of work at a coffee shop with wi-fi. If I had to respond to an email outside of these working periods, I had the Blackberry. Of course to make and take any calls I had my cell phone.
At the end of the day, I had a great evening in Montreal and headed back to Boston Saturday afternoon.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
In the end, it was a smashing success. For all my employer knew, I was at home the whole day. In hindsight, there was no real reason why I would not have been able to pull this off, which of course I did. I think the biggest outcome of this little foray was breaking down the psychological barriers that I had. It takes some time to get the idea that a specific location is often inconsequential to one's work. I am already planning my next great experiment in liberation, where I will try to work for a few days at a time away from the office. I'll up the ante by working from a different time zone or something like that.
To Oliver Mallich for the photo of Montreal (I know, I should have taken my own while I was there! It's just that Flickr is so convenient...)
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