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A nomad’s life: on working in two continents

Now that I’m combining duties in Ecuador and the Netherlands, I’ve been spending some time thinking about how I streamline the process of dividing my time between two parts of the world – without having to be missing documents all the time.

Yes, it has happened to me that I thought of looking up something in a certain book, only to realize that said book is in a box in another continent. Not good.

In my case, I’m not shuttling back and forth between two places once a month, but only roughly once a year. As such, I can bulk up time here and there, and make as much good use of my time in either place.

I’m nowhere near being able to have everything perfectly sorted out and organized in this situation, but so far the following elements have helped me in bringing some structure into my nomadic work schedule:

1. Digital is everything

Even though I prefer to print papers before I read them, I do keep everything digital. I’m moving away from paper as much as I can (not much some of you would say if you see my desk, but quite an effort for myself already), and I’m trying to keep all my documents well-organized on my computer. Frequent back-ups are a no-brainer as well. I’m still trying to figure out to have more of my documents and data in the cloud, but so far I haven’t found an ideal solution yet (I need a lot of space on any virtual drive, and hence, so far, I’ve been using external hard drives – suggestions are welcome!)

2. Just be flexible

There will always come up something in one place when you are in the other place. If you are trying to keep a life and work life up and running on two sides of the world, you simply can’t be at both places at the same time (even though you might really wish you’d be able to use some teleportation back and forth!). So at times, you’ll just have to come up with a plan C and hope for the best.

3. Enjoy the best of both worlds

Look up the bright side and try to enjoy the best of both worlds sequentially. Indulge in the best parts of one continent while you are there, only to dive into the things you’ve missed from the other one once you set foot back on the other place. The downside is that you’ll always miss things about another country and place when you are not there, and that you will never really know what or where home is. Nonetheless, if you think about how cultural values of different places shape your experience, you might appreciate how you can take some lessons from every place where you live and apply these into your own life, questioning things you might have never questioned before.

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