iContract’s Ed Bardos has been a professional ‘nomad’ for 5 years now, and here, Ed shares his expert tips on staying connected, staying powered-up and staying efficient.
Without the luxury of an office with landlines, fast computer networks (and plug sockets) the modern contractor has to adapt to life on the move.
1. I love working on trains & planes: You get a table and you are free from distractions (people can’t reach you on the plane, and nobody likes someone on their phone on the train anyway). This is precious time. Use it well to catch-up on to-do lists and for ‘thinking tasks’.
2. If you are a frequent flyer, get a lounge pass (like Priority Pass) – it pays for itself very quickly with the peace & quiet, decent wifi and free food & drink. Add up what you spend at Pret and wasting time trying to connect to dodgy free airport wifi and it’s a no brainer. Often you can get your travel companion in for free or for a small fee too. I also recommend getting airline upgrade programmes like EasyJetPlus – it pays for itself with Fastrack security access and free seat choices at the front of the plane for quick exits.
3. Hands-free headphones may seem a humble piece of kit, but I cannot be without mine (and I have lots of spares). They are the key to multi-tasking, whether you are just listening in to a dull conference call, leading a call using notes on your laptop, or just blocking out background noise with Spotify in order to concentrate.
4. Store & access ALL documents, contacts & calendars via the cloud so that you never have to enter anything more than once and you always have the most up to date information at your fingertips, no matter whether you are opening your phone, laptop or home computer. I use iCloud and Dropbox, but Google, Microsoft and others all have similar services.
5. Finally, travel light and get a smart bag that will pass muster at business meetings, but which also has double back straps. Mine is from Muji. I stopped lugging laptops and papers over just one shoulder a long time ago – it may look cooler, but your back and neck won’t thank you.
Staying powered & connected:
1. If you are like me, your phone and laptop simply won’t last a whole day of proper work on one charge. Get a proper power bank that will charge both – it does not have to be the size of a brick these days.
2. Do you panic before leaving home, whether it’s to spend the day off-site or abroad, that you’ve either not left enough time to pack or that you’ve forgotten some charger or security device? I used to, but I now have two of everything I need. One set is at home and stays there for my home office. The other set is in a ‘grab-bag’ for commuting or travelling. I know that in it I have every charger, every type of cable, and all the security devices, power packs and adaptors that I will need to stay powered and connected;
3. Same applies for toiletries actually. Why bother packing/unpacking these for overnight trips? Just make a complete ‘hand-luggage only compliant’ transparent grab- bag set of travel size toiletries. No stress.
4. Wifi or Mifi? A while back, I carried around my own wifi, but with 4G and unlimited data on my phone for tethering and good wifi spots virtually everywhere now, I can usually get online whenever and wherever I need to. If you have problems where you have to work check if your home broadband supplier offers mobile access (e.g. BT gives hotspot access) or consider subscribing to one. Lack of a data connection & speed is one of life’s modern frustrations; don’t let it get to you.
Hopefully, these have been useful. If you’ve enjoyed it and you are keen to learn more about contracting, making contacts or finding your next contract role, sign-up to iContract today !