I think I did it. I think I found my spot in the Universe.
I’m now living and working from Gili Trawangan, a small 3×2 km island paradise off the northwest tip of Lombok, Indonesia. With exquisite beaches, a magical atmosphere and only about 500 inhabitants, it’s like being on the set of ‘Lost’ – except with modern amenities and none of the stress. Most everyone here is on vacation, so there’s no shortage of smiling, happy people. A small group have taken things a step further, though – they’re here on “workation”, and I’m one of them. What does that mean? Well, let’s backtrack a bit.
It all started with an incredible event called Project Getaway, in which 15 adventurous entrepreneurs from around the world came to beautiful Bali, Indonesia. We spent 6 weeks on “workation” – a working vacation – during which we lived and worked together in luxurious villas in an exotic, inspiring environment. This was reality – not a reality show – and suddenly a sustainable alternative to the rat race was no longer a dream. All it took was my laptop, a fast Internet connection and a strong entrepreneurial spirit – and of course the wonderful setting.
I was so bowled over by the experience that myself and three other participants – Mads Rode, Carolina Mera and Phil Suslow – decided to take it to an extreme. Could we live like this permanently? We were about to find out.
Armed with just a small bag of clothes and, of course, our trusty laptops, we hopped onto a boat from Bali and headed for a tiny island nearby, which turned out to be Gili Trawangan. Picture-postcard beaches, perfect temperatures, plenty of eateries and no motor vehicles: what more could anyone ask for?
We even found modern Scandinavian-style villas (hello, Ikea!) complete with bedroom, living room and air-conditioning for around USD 600 per month, and the local around the corner offered us “Laundry Service with Mechine” at just USD 2-3 for a week’s worth of sandy clothes. All in all, a very comfortable setup indeed.
The ultimate office
Of course any entrepreneur worth their sea-salt knows that a reliable Internet connection is essential for business (and the occasional Facebook poke), so we made sure our 3G phones worked on Gili Trawangan (and found ways to boost 3G signals in remote areas, even though it is not really needed here). We even found our local “Lightning Fast” Internet guy who, through some satellite dish sorcery, ensures a zippy connection with his personal guarantee: “No Fast, No Pay.” Perfect.
For our ideal working environment, we ended up choosing Scallywags, a local café just 2 meters from the beach. Internet? Power sockets? Comfortable seating? Check, check and check. We also get stunning views of the sun, surrounding islands and, ahem, bikini-clad beauties (who pass by frequently enough to inspire, but not so often as to distract). For as little as the price of a fresh juice each day, we had the ultimate office space.
Just another day at work
A typical day could look like this: Wake up around 8 a.m. (no alarm clock needed!). Dig into a healthy breakfast at one of the many eateries on the island (Coco’s by the water does a superb fruit-and-muesli with yogurt). Go for a morning constitutional in the “big pool,” as the locals call it, and muse on how life got so good. Towel off, get to your “office” and work for a few hours, with regular plunges into the sea or a quick wake-boarding session to cool down and give your brain a rest.
Grab lunch at your favorite café, work a few more hours and perhaps go for an evening run around the island (we even track our runs here) in time to catch the breathtaking sunset on the west side. Hang out with friends or wax poetic before winding down for the night, relaxed, happy and fulfilled.
More productive than ever
Most people think that being productive in paradise is an impossibility. Truth is, I’ve found myself more productive here than ever. I even track my productivity with a cool tool called Rescue Time –which shows me that I’m working about 55 hours in a week, definitely productive in my books. The best part is that I don’t feel like I’ve worked that much or that hard, because taking breaks, staying relaxed, being outdoors and having a pleasant working environment makes the work itself a pleasure.
Make the dream yours
If you’re not an entrepreneur yet, give it a shot, like my friends Andreas and Tobias did: ask your employer if you can “telecommute” for 3-4 weeks, claiming ultra-productivity thanks to a better working environment. With just a little bit of prep and convincing, you too could be part of Project Getaway, working from an exotic locale with your colleagues back home via email and Skype. You can even share my story with your employer if it helps!
If you’re already an entrepreneur with a business online, what are you waiting for?! Pack a few things and get on the next plane to the destination of your dreams. There is a world beyond your desk to explore, and you don’t have to wait for those few vacation days each year to explore it.
Following my dream to travel, live and work in exotic places has definitely been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. To be honest, I don’t know that I’m going home anytime soon. In fact, I’m already thinking about the next exotic beach I’d like to work from – if you have any recommendations, I’m all ears.
Thinking about following suit? Have experiences you’d like to share? Comments welcome below!