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How To Make A ‘Working Holiday’ Work


Friday 17 February 2023

How To Make A ‘Working Holiday’ Work

By Cassie Jane Buckley.

I’ve spent the last 7 weeks running my business 11,000 miles away from my clients. I came to New Zealand in November 2022 to spend some much-needed time with my sister and her family for Christmas, working smartly to keep my social media agency going whilst making the most of this special time.

It was incredible, but it wasn’t easy. This ‘digital nomad’ stuff isn’t as glamorous as it looks. Granted, I don’t think the standard travel influencer is helping with the school run, but whilst the way we choose to spend our ‘freedom’ is different, the discipline and efficiency that you need to achieve it is very much the same.

As I’m packing for my plane tomorrow (for my actual holiday in the Philippines), I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve achieved whilst I’ve been here, and I’m actually pretty chuffed with myself. I’ve had to make every minute count in my day to balance making memories with my family and making money for my mortgage, and whilst it has been a real balancing act, I really feel I’ve been the most productive here than I’ve been for a long, long time.

Here’s how I made it happen…

Preparation is Key.

I’m a bit of a ‘Monica’ when it comes to travelling anyway, but this operation meant I needed to think of absolutely everything. Not only was I packing for seven weeks in Auckland, but I also had to prepare for three weeks in the Philippines and then a week in Oxford. A lot of factors needed to be accounted for, so I gave myself plenty of time to work it all out to ensure I had everything I needed to give myself, my family, and my clients the best version of me.

The most important thing was to keep my mindset out of ‘holiday mode’; I was simply moving my life for a couple of weeks. This meant I needed to bring my routine with me to keep up key habits & behaviours that are crucial for my work and lifestyle. I brought things like a trip-load of vitamins, my favourite candle, my current read and a stash of my ‘nighttime’ tea to keep me going… little things that gave me my mobile Derry life.

In terms of work itself, I really had to prioritise my time and be realistic about what could be achieved in each geography. I made myself three lists of projects; what needed to be done before my trip, what I could do whilst I was here and what could wait until I came home. This took a lot of pressure off and kept me focused on what I needed to do.

Set Your Goals.

I wanted to set some goals for this trip, just as I do when I’m at home. I already had my list of work projects I wanted to achieve whilst I was here, and I knew the family had some amazing bits and pieces planned, but I wanted to add some extra personal goals to work on whilst I was here. I thought this would also be good to ensure I took time for myself too, especially coming from a household of 1. Our family hadn’t lived together for almost 15 years, and as much as we all love each other, we needed our own space too!

My absolute priority was finally getting this blog in shape to launch. I had the website for almost a year and different scraps & pieces of articles all over my Mac, but I needed to pull it all together. And I did! I hope you love it :) I also wanted to spend some time focussing on my health. I’ve never been a lover of exercise, but the fun and community I found at PWR Fitness gave me the exact kick up the bum I needed to get in shape. It was wonderful to have this place as a part of my daily routine.

My final goal was to get myself properly surfing! And whilst ‘properly’ might be stretch, after a BootCamp with Murawai Surf School, I am well on my way. These guys have really improved my confidence with surfing, and I can’t wait to get home and buy myself a wee foamie to make it a part of my life in Derry, albeit in much colder water.

Know When To Switch Off.

Whilst we know, I love my plans, and my lists, and my priorities… at the end of the day, this was precious time. My niece and nephew are growing far too quickly for my liking, and with some uncertainty about the health of some family members, we knew we were living some core memories. It was important for me to be flexible, to take pressure off myself and to know when the time was to work and when I needed to switch off.

I did everything I could to plan my work outside of family time, starting my day with UK client calls at 5am - 9am and then finishing off some work in the evenings. But there were always those times when it was important for me to step up, be flexible and be present, whether that was to read Harry Potter to my nephew at night or jump on a trampoline in my pyjamas with my niece at 7am.

Be Grateful Every Day.

As I said, this was precious time but not just because I was with my family. I was successfully running my business, getting in shape, meeting new people, exploring a beautiful city and SURFING! It was exactly what I wanted and it’s still surreal to think that I’ve made it happen. I made a point of recording as many of these moments as I could, either through my socials, my journal or my daily gratitude practice. I know, even after three years of grinding, that I am so lucky to have been able to make this work, especially when the world is a little bit fucked at the moment, so I wanted to make sure I made the most of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am wrecked, and I’m looking forward to some quiet weeks before I get home, but I know it won’t be long until I book another plane ticket….

Friday 17 February 2023

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