I’ve become a bit obsessed with trying to create a work environment that doesn’t conform to the daily drudgery of 9-5. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and How To Be A Free Range Human by Marianne Cantwell are two books that I’ve read recently to help inspire my new way of life.

The philosophy of Ferris focuses on productivity; ‘living more and working less’. That way you maintain motivation.  Marianne’s concept is similar, telling people to ‘escape the corporate cage and live life on your terms’. Working just to pay the bills won’t necessarily make you happy or successful and when you realise that you spend significantly more time at work than anywhere else, surely it’s worth while reconsidering the balance?

I’ve just come back from a surf holiday with some friends in Portugal and met a load of lovely and interesting people while we were there. It was a watersports/surfing holiday and this kind of trip seems to attract the naturally adventurous. One thing that came across, was that many of the other holiday makers had chosen to step outside the typical working structure to work for themselves, or adopted a lifestyle that allowed them to work really hard, then take a load of time off. What Ferris would describe as ‘mini-retirements’. When the rest of us were all complaining about making the flight home and returning to work, we bid farewell to a couple who had absolutely nothing planned for the next three months. Having worked in New Zealand for a period of time, they made enough money to support an adventure in a camper van around Europe. Fully fitted with a microwave, fridge and double bed! Their plan was not to plan too much and just see where they ended up.

One night we camped on a deserted beach, which was just beautiful (although the lack of facilities made it clear that one night was enough) and I got chatting to one of the surf instructors.  Following his summer on the beaches of Portugal, he was planning to head off to try his hand at working on a yacht. This would take him to the Caribbean as well as offered the opportunity to work his way up to Captain. A good friend of mine, a business psychologist, spends her working days consulting in various companies all over the UK and Europe. She recently decided to move out to Portugal on a full time basis but keep her UK job. She can work from home on days that she’s not needed in the office and spend her weekends on the beach. She makes the point that it doesn’t matter if she’s flying from Portugal or getting a train half way across the UK, if she gets to her client on time (and it all comes to a similar cost) then she knows where she’d rather spend her free time.

If you’re thinking of changing the way you balance work and life, then I recommend both these books. They both come up with solutions that don’t necessarily have to compromise on earning potential. It’s not everyone’s natural inclination to go where the wind takes you.  Some people are much more aware of the social and financial pressures of growing up, buying property and starting a family (I’m more in this camp, but regrettably). It has to be said, when I was doggedly writing ‘To Do’ lists on my iPhone by the pool and setting up meetings for when I got back home,  the thought of just relaxing and waiting to see what the next few months may bring, was extremely appealing.  But then I remembered about the mortgage, the dog and my overwhelming need to be organised.  I can dip in now and again to the relaxed way of life, but as a permanent adjustment, I probably wouldn’t last too long.