From the Field: Lea Woodward, Location-Independent Coach/Consultant/Writer

Today’s web worker field report comes from Lea Woodward, who ditched a job as a management consultant to travel the globe with her husband Jonathan as a location independent coach, consultant, and writer.

Describe your job/career/businessLea Woodward

My husband and I are both ex-corporate rat racers. I was a management consultant and Jonathan was an in-house graphic designer. Nowadays we run our own business but both do separate things within it. Jonathan is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer and I am a Technology & Process Coach/Consultant and writer.

How has the web changed your working life?

The web has been, quite literally, life changing! If we didn’t have the web, we couldn’t do what we do now… which is run our businesses and earn an income whilst travelling the world permanently – we call ourselves “location independent professionals” and write a blog about our experiences.

We left the UK earlier this year, knowing we didn’t want to settle there and have since realised that we don’t actually want to settle anywhere just yet, so we’re quite happy spending a month here, a couple of months there. This year we’ve lived in Panama for two months, Buenos Aires and Toronto for a month each and Grenada, West Indies for 5 months. We’re off to Dubai soon for a month and then South Africa for three months. No idea where after that but perhaps somewhere in Asia.

Describe your working situation

We both work from ‘home’ – wherever that is at the time. We rent furnished apartments with high speed internet and then work from the most comfortable spots in the apartment. Sometimes it’s on the veranda in the cooling breeze; other times it’s in the bedroom with the air conditioning. For Jonathan it’s usually on the dining table so he can spread out and do his illustration pieces.

If we’re in a place that has cafes with wireless internet, we might spend a day or two each week working from there – but at the moment, there are none in Grenada although we’re waiting patiently for a Starbucks-style coffee bar to open, just for the coffee – doubt there’ll be wireless!

Despite not having a desk, it’s not all that difficult to get stuck in and work – we usually both know what we’ve got to get done that day and we tend to get up early, work whilst it’s hot and then go to the beach at about 3 pm every day. There’s nothing like a dip in the Caribbean sea to motivate you to get all your work done each day!

What are the key web and desktop tools you use?

Web Tools:

  • Google Apps – for email and sharing web docs
  • iContact – for mailing lists and ezines
  • Typepad – for blogs which do most of our marketing – although am currently on a steep learning curve to learn WordPress
  • Backpackit – for To Do lists
  • Highrise – to manage some of our client projects
  • SimplyBill – for online invoicing
  • Skype – for client calls
  • Efax and Skax – for online faxes
  • EarthClassMail – for mail management
  • Facebook & Twitter – to stay in touch with friends & family

Desktop tools:

  • Dreamweaver for client websites
  • Fireworks for images
  • Illustrator for illustration and DTP
  • Photoshop for illustration
  • InDesign for graphic design clients
  • Camtasia for screen/video tutorials for clients

Describe your productivity system

My coaching/consulting client work is driven by client calls so there is usually a set schedule to that. Jonathan’s corporate design work is again usually driven by deadlines, as are his illustration projects.

I generally also like to work on one big project at a time such as writing my second book, learning something new or creating a new product and this becomes a focus for a week or several, depending upon how long it takes.

For daily tasks, I use Backpackit lists – I have one with a weekly schedule that has a couple of tasks for each day such as writing on x blog one day or y blog the next and some of my marketing activities, like writing articles and guest writing on blogs. I also have another Backpackit page with project ideas or other ‘bigger’ to do tasks which need doing but aren’t urgent – the kind of “I’ll-do-them-as-and-when-I-get-round-to-them” tasks.

Share your top tip for success as a web worker

Take some time to figure out what your end game is. Call it goal setting, business planning or whatever you like, but if you don’t know where you and your business are headed, as a web worker or not, then you’re unlikely to ever get there.

Read more about Lea at her blog, The Life of a Location Independent Professional. Want to share how you use the web for a more satisfying and successful work life? Here’s what you need to know about submitting a field report. – Anne Z.


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