Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 1, 2009 7:59 PM

When Your Office Is Anywhere And Everywhere

When you're a digital nomad, your office can fit in a backpack, but not a briefcase.

I tend to know more people in their digital format than I do in their protein forms. It's par for the course for people like you and me as we slowly shift and morph our business and personal relationships into a vat of connectivity. So where, for example, do you meet an editor for enRoute Magazine? Why on Twitter, of course. And when we finally connected in person, it led to this: a new column that will look at the intersection of travel, technology and what life is like for digital nomads - people like you and me. People who can (and do) work from anywhere and everywhere. With an Internet connection or a mobile one. At 30,000 feet in the air or at your local coffee shop.

This idea of being a digital nomad is new.

The way that business flows - and is done -  is changing, and technology is enabling this type of work style. Of course, you know this and you also know the transition is happening quickly. Work today is not even about having a laptop anymore. Your smartphone will do the trick. If you really have the urge to type or need a larger screen, any computer connected to the Internet should give you access to everything you need. Some of us don't even have traditional offices anymore. Some of us don't even have assigned desks anymore. Soon the term "desk job�? could be a thing of the past.

We hold no attachment to our physical offices. Being in one place does not increase our productivity. All we really need is an online connection. This way, we don't create clutter or worry about physical "stuff,�? and we don't have to rush back to a physical space to check e-mail or download a proposal.

My "real�? office is my BlackBerry, my laptop, my high-speed mobile Internet USB stick and my backpack. (Don't laugh; briefcases were meant for paper and files. My Samsonite backpack is the ultimate mobile office with room for extra cables, an iPod and, yes, a magazine or two. Plus, I've got two free hands to work the BlackBerry). Being a successful digital nomad is all about optimizing space. You optimize your physical space by carrying only the lightest gear, and you optimize your digital space by ensuring that all your devices are as small as possible while packing in as much storage capacity and speed as you can afford and handle.

That's what Ultraportable is all about: embracing digital nomadism.

I love the idea that my office is anywhere and everywhere. In future columns, we'll look at products, services and ideas that will help you be more effective, efficient and free. I'm looking forward to sharing my stories and lifehacks with you - here in the magazine or sitting right next to you on an airplane. And if that doesn't work, how about we connect on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter?

Sidebar - iRecycle

Who would have thought that $300 iPods could become disposable 12 to 24 months out? I recently picked up a 32 GB iPod Touch. I wanted to wrap my head around how the touch screen works, and, of course, I wanted to play with all of the amazing applications. (Apple recently announced that over 500 million applications have been downloaded from the iTunes store since they started offering iPhone 3G - update: it's now over one billion.) But what do you do with your old iPod? Mine was a fairly new 30 GB iPod Classic. I decided to turn it into my portable backup hard drive. Plug it into your computer, format the iPod hard drive and copy and paste all of your critical information over to it. Now when I travel, most of the important stuff on my laptop is backed up to the old iPod. It's slim, it's light and it makes the perfect portable hard disk storage system.

If you have any cool travel tips, ticks and lifehacks for the digital nomad, please let loose in the comment section.

The above posting is my new monthly column for enRoute Magazine called, Ultraportable. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

- enRoute Magazine - Ultraportable - Home Page.

By Mitch Joel