To stay on the road longer, remote jobs are great! You can work from anywhere as long as you have internet connection. But working from “home” when your home is a small van, is a little different. You don’t have a home office, and often your bed, kitchen, and living space are all the same. So how do you stay productive? Check out these tips for working from home in your van!
Clean space. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind, but even more so in a van. A smaller space gets messy faster, so take a few minutes to put things back where they belong. Make your bed, put your clothes away, and try to do your dishes (or hide them under a cutting board so it appears clean).
Create a dedicated workspace. Do you notice your productivity suffers when you work from your bed? Having a separate set up for work mode may help shift your mindset and maintain your workflow. If you have a smaller van and can only work from your bed, get a computer stand so you can sit comfortably. A dinette style layout is a great option to work from home inside your van. You get the best of both worlds with a comfortable bed and a work area. A swivel seat in the passenger seat is also a great simple solution for a seating area to work. If you have a longer van, you may be able to have a fixed bed and have space for a workspace.
Be comfortable. If you are working 8 hours every day, you should be comfortable. Otherwise, working remotely inside your van will not be sustainable. Adding cushions and pillows for your back and having your feet at the appropriate height is so important ergonomically. Make sure your bench seats are built with the cushions in mind so your feet touch the ground and choose soft but firm cushions. If you need it, get throw pillows to support your back. Many people just get pillow covers and put out of season clothes inside as stuffing so you don’t have to store those items!
Take scheduled breaks. When you work in your home space, even if it is a van. It is easy to get so focused you forget to eat or keep pushing your lunch back so you can get more done. However, it is bad for your health to stay seated for so long and to skip meals. Take a 10-minute break every couple of hours to stretch your legs and have a snack. Increased blood flow and nutrients from food will help your brain. You will find yourself more productive and focused.
Turn on music, podcasts, or white noise. Working in a van means there will probably be noise from outside creeping in. Even if you have done your due diligence with a sound deadener and insulation, you cannot fully soundproof a van. Find what keeps your focus, be it instrumental music, podcasts, or white noise to reduce noise distractions while you work from inside your van.
Reliable Internet. Many digital nomads borrow wifi from public spaces by staying in a business’ parking lot. This is a great way to get free wifi, but it is not always the strongest signal. A device like a weBoost is a great option to increase the strength of public wifi, but it is expensive. Another option is to use your phone’s hotspot or get a separate mobile hotspot. You are usually limited to how many gigabytes of data you get depending on your plan. There are no data plans that have 100% coverage across North America, so it can be helpful to have two plans with two separate carriers. If you are out of service with one carrier, you may have service with another.
Turn off and unplug. When you work on your own schedule, you can work late into the night. But this isn’t a healthy work schedule and can harm your sleep. Try to stick to the same work hours and actually turn off your computer. Change to warm lights in your van and open a book to give your eyes a rest. Let yourself have off days too. The point of living in a van is to see the world. Use those days to explore!
Schedule your travels around your work schedule. It is unprofessional to miss deadlines. If you know you will be out of service in certain areas, stay where you have service to maintain contact with your supervisor, or are able to send off your projects where you have enough bandwidth.
Vanlifer’s are some of the hardest working people because we want to maintain our lifestyle. And adventures have to be funded somehow! Did you find these tips helpful? Leave us a comment if you have any tips we didn’t mention!