Working while living in an RV is way different than my last 9-5 job. Having boundaries and goals set out for you at a job makes working actually a bit easier in a sense. The constant pressure of figuring out your own deadlines, juggling times and places to work, and creating that separation of “I’m here, but I’m not here” with the family is no easy task.
However, I wouldn’t give up working on my own (and even in an RV) for anything. Waking up to see clouds rolling off the Rocky Mountains, the sun rising over the water in the Florida Keys, or the sound of boats speeding along the lake like where we are currently situated near Ft. Collins, Colorado is an experience like no other.
I definitely don’t have working while living full time in an RV perfected, but here are a few things I’ve learned in the last 14+ months of this adventure:
FIND A TIME TO WORK The ideal work situation is to work at the same time every day. For most of our time in an RV I’ve had a set 2-3 hours (depends on when our daughter wakes up) in the morning to work before I start my day.
The amount of work I can get done is easily 3x more work than I would get done in an office environment with walk-ins, meetings, phone calls, and any number of distractions.
This time of focused work does not happen every single day, but I would say its a part of my life 95% of the time seven days a week. That’s right, even weekends. I’ve tossed the old Monday – Friday mindset. It’s about making the most of my time and blocking out mornings has been great.
I’m sure you may be thinking “You lazy bum. You only work 2 hours a day? That’s 14 hours a week!”. Ok, so it is true, I do work 14 hours a week with my mornings, but that is not the only time I work. The rest of my work is done on a flexible schedule. Sometimes I work an hour or so at night and sometimes if Marissa goes somewhere with Hensley (store, playground, etc) I work at those times as well.
Those 2-3 hours are all that is set in stone. The other times are done on a flexible basis. But I promise, those 14 hours a week in the morning are like 40+ in the office. At least, that is what I’ve experienced.
FIND A PLACE TO WORK This one has been been tough for me. Living in 300sq feet with the majority of it technically one living space makes finding a place to work very difficult. I just haven’t found my happy place on this one.
Sometimes I work outside if the light is right. I can’t work in the dark (bugs attack the computer as a source of light). I can’t work when the sun is too bright and I have no shade because I can’t see my screen. And sometimes, it is honestly just too hot, cold, windy, or not the right condition to be sitting in one place with a laptop.
When you think of someone working while traveling the country you may picture the guy with his laptop on the beach. That is the silliest image I could imagine for about 10,425 reasons I won’t get into, but trust me, I won’t be on the beach with my laptop any time soon.
I mean look at this guy. How could he even hear his cell phone over the waves? How could he see his screen from the bright sunlight? His laptop would have overheated from the heat in the first 10 minutes and if that didn’t destroy it, the sand would.
Anyways, back to reality.
I typically work in our the front passenger seat of our motorhome in the morning if I am working before our daughter gets up.
If Hensley is already up, that spot is tough to use. I then have to work in the bedroom on the bed, find a spot outside, or just hope something during the day works out where Marissa and Hensley do something outside of the RV.
That’s reality for me as I type this article. I’m sitting in our bed leaning against the headboard staring at bed sheets and cabinets in a 6×8 room typing away.
Good grief business dude on the beach. That makes a great picture, but good grief.
LET THE FAMILY KNOW AHEAD OF TIME I am a focused worker. It seems like moms are a little better at cooking dinner while typing up an article while playing a game with their toddler, but that is not me. Dinner would be burned, the article would be unreadable, and who knows what kind of danger our toddler would be in.
I need one task at a time and truthfully, so do most other people. When you get a bit of time to research it, here’s a quick glance at what comes up when you search for multi-tasking vs single-tasking. Spoiler alert: it’s not even close.
One of the hardest parts of working in the RV is letting the family know you’re “checking in for work” for a while to single-task. They know you are close by while you are working. Sometimes they can even see you. It’s tough.
They have questions. They have requests. They have needs. But if at all possible, this temporary separation is one of the best ways for me to get work done. There are times when Marissa and Hensley are up and in the RV, but I am on a time crunch to get something done.
In that case, I let them know I will be working for xx minutes or hours and then I’ll be back to hang out with them. Just this few seconds of explaining that I am “going to work” has been huge.
Before doing this, I would just sit down and go to work and it was frustration on both sides. They could not tell when I was working and when I wasn’t. Work was slowly blending into family time more than it should.
So there’s my work/life balance while living full time in an RV. Setting these guidelines does takes some extra effort, but without them, work and play quickly become a blend of frustration for the whole family. There’s not much worse than not being present when it comes to family time. My wife needs me. My daughter needs me. And the monster of work can consume me if I don’t cage it every once in a while.
Living and working an RV has allowed me create new experiences every day with my family and choose the work I want to focus on from day to day. Some days are tougher than others and every day is out of the norm, but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything.