As you might know by now, I am a personal / virtual assistant. I really love my job, it’s like it was tailor made for me; I get to do some boring and mind-numbing stuff sometimes (a girl needs an empty head from time to time!) but most of the time I get to talk and listen to all kinds of people, follow (and often participate in) interesting projects, plan things and make overviews, book beautiful trips – when I’m booking a trip to some tropical country, I almost feel like I’m going there myself. And best of all, as I’m my own boss, I get to decide wether I can take a long lunch (if I finish everything urgent first, nobody will miss me) or take a few days vacation (if the work can wait, why not?). I have to say most clients and coworkers I’ve had over the almost 3 years I’m doing this, have been wonderful and a pleasure to work with.
Most of those last 3 years, I’ve been working from Amsterdam; of course I would also work when on vacation (visiting my parents in Belgium, a friend in France, or just taking care of business in Spain), but most of the time I would push non-urgent stuff forward until I was home again. So when we decided to move to Spain, it felt logical just to take my job with me… most of it is done through the internet anyway.
Now lately, a few people have been asking me how it’s all working out for me. And my answer to that is: much better than I even expected!
The first week was kind of hellish – we had no internet at home, had to find an internet cafe every time I wanted to work for half a day or so, and worst of all I used up all my mobile internet MB’s (I usually have lots of it included in my mobile subscription) on the 3rd day… and I was really paying the prize for all the extra internet I was using. Of course my (wifi) printer wasn’t working, and the work just kept building up. I reached a low when we finally got wifi at our Spanish house, and it seemed like I wouldn’t be able to use Skype because the internet was very, very slow.
I have to say, I really considered going back to Amsterdam for a week or so at that moment, just to catch up with work.
But then suddenly it all picked up; it turned out internet is very very slow on Sunday nights (probably because most people here spend that time indoors behind their computers?) and using Skype on other days is not a problem – and I started enjoying to work from here. As I’m waking up earlier and happier here than I used to in Amsterdam (difficult not to, with the view from our bedroom), I get to have breakfast, go outside and do a few things around the house before people in Amsterdam even wake up and get themselves behind their computers…
Most of the time, I work hard in the morning (usually 4-5 hours non-stop), then have lunch and do some household chores, and then on sunny days I go spend the “siesta” time on our finca. Working offline, most of the time, and getting or making the odd phone call… as soon as I get a bit chilly (and the dogs have had their fun), I go back to the house to work some more.
It turns out I like working from here (even) so much more than I liked working from our house in Amsterdam. The work hasn’t changed, but the atmosphere around here is so relaxing and happy that I get to be happier as well… who would have thought? I certainly didn’t – I expected it to be much more stressful, as I would have much more to do around here than I did in Amsterdam. Turns out time management is much easier than it I used to think; everything that doesn’t happen today, will happen tomorrow. Mañana!
On the other hand, I’m also happy to be going back to Amsterdam next week. There’s always some stuff you just can’t do remotely, even though there’s a few people over there ready to do whatever is needed urgently. And of course, I’ll be really happy to see my friends & family back, see a few movies on IDFA (the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam), and hopefully see a first glimpse of Amsterdam Light Festival (planning to go back in December to see a little more of ALF!). But then, after a few weeks there I’ll probably be just as glad to come back to beautiful Matarranya and our ever-evolving project in Lledo. And of course, come back to working with the sun in my back…