Tag: RV Workspaces

Tag: RV Workspaces

  • Going Home : Transitioning to Work from...

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  • The Comprehensive Guide to Setting Up Your...

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  • Internet Security for Digital Nomads

    Internet Security for Digital Nomads was originally published on www.xscapers.com

    Welcome to my world, where bits and bytes fly through the air across the wire and (if I have done my job right) slam right into a firewall and “get injected, inspected, detected, [dis]infected,
    neglected and selected” before being passed into your laptop, phone, or tablet.  We are going to chat about the basics of Internet Security while you are on the road and how you can make sure to protect all your technological doodads.

    Patch It!

    The first thing, and I can’t stress this one enough, is PATCH YOUR SYSTEMS!  Like RIGHT NOW! 

    This means:

    • Turn on automatic patching on Windows
    • Turn on “Automatically keep my Mac up to date” for your Mac
    • Turn on automatic updates for your phones
    • Update your apps on your phones
    • And, if you are on a Google device that wasn’t built by Google and is more than 3 years old, it’s probably time to get a new one. (yes, I am Mac/Apple user and yes, I think they are more secure for the general user)

    While I know many of you will be using some sort of cellular upstream connection (Wi-Fi puck, Wi-Fi tethering to a phone, cell card in a device in your rig, whatever) and I know those gigabytes are critical to survive, you still need to make sure your machines get their patches.  You can set both Windows and Mac laptops to download the updates at certain times, maybe off hours in the middle of the night, when the bandwidth usage on the cell tower is low or possibly hold off until you are near somewhere with a good broadband Internet connection (like a coffee shop or library). Either way, I want you to promise me that you won’t go more than 14 days after the patches have been released to install them.

    The patches that are being released will always include some security update for an application running on your machine.  These security updates are being released because someone found a flaw and either has released it into the wild before the patch was released, at which point hackers are trying to use it to figure out how to exploit it and get onto your machine before the vendor releases the patch, or the security flaw is released concurrent to patch at which point you have some time (usually hours or days) before the hackers have a working exploit.  This is why you have to install your dates quickly!

    I would like to make a quick point about the Android operating system and how it gets patches and the economics of the “cheap” Android phone.  If you have a Brand X Android phone sold by Verizon to get updates, this is what has to happen:

    First Google releases a patch. They do this really well and often.

    Then Verizon has to review the patch and make sure it works on your BrandX phone. In doing this, Verizon has to do a cost analysis of calls per hour into their call center from any potential failures from this patch, plus the cost of them doing testing to see if this patch works on a few thousand different variations of software and hardware, plus the cost of the infrastructure to keep patch servers up and running 24×7 versus the satisfaction they get from making sure you could be a bit more secure. 

    Yeah, they aren’t going to decide to help you very often.  In the off chance they DO, its likely weeks or months behind and comes with some additional Verizon “features” to help sell you some more stuff.  

    On the other hand if you bought a phone from Google (ie if you have a Pixel device), then all you have to do is press update and your phone reaches out to Google Data Centers and downloads the patches for the hardware and software that they built from servers they are already using to send you search results and give you free email. Google takes this into consideration when selling you one of their phones (as does Apple) which is why they are about $800.  They need to get enough cash out of you to make sure they can keep supporting your phone for 2-5 years.

    Password Protect It!

    Second thing I want you to do is promise me (and don’t lie because I will know) that you won’t use the same password on all the websites you use.  As soon as one website gets hacked, the hackers then use any passwords they found and try about 5000 other websites they have in a list using the same username and password to see what else they can get into.  They have scripts that do this for them, it takes them seconds to put a single username and password into all those sites and see if they get in anywhere else.

    I know remembering passwords is hard. I use a password manager App called 1Password. In my opinion, it’s the best, but it costs money each month.  You can also use LastPass. This one is free and they have a great security track record for fixing any issues that are uncovered.  

    Basically, humans are really bad at coming up with random passwords. Thankfully, machines are REALLY REALLY good at it.  Use a password manager and you only have to remember a single password (and it better not be password123 or even “ifyourRVsarockinImstillcomingknockin”) then the password manager will generate random passwords for you and use those password to auto-log you in to every different website you visit.  I have hundreds of passwords in my password vault and use a long passphrase that’s easy for me to remember. I don’t know any of my passwords because most of them are 26 character randomly generated strings of gibberish.  When setting up your password vault password use something easy to remember but hard to guess like “I like Kyle because he has a pink bus” or “RVing is awesome because it allows me to meet people like Kyle” or a sentence from your favorite song “big lizard in my backyard cant afford to feed him any more” (Dead Milkmen, 1985).  It doesn’t have to have caps or letters or numbers (better if it does, but it’s harder to type) it just needs to be long.

    Third thing please also put passwords/passcodes on your devices just to make it harder for someone to login who might be in your rig for a few minutes. You don’t want your neighbor seeing those pics of you and the Mrs from your birthday last year, do you?

    Lock It Down!

    If you have a Windows PC and have it all patched and password protected, give yourself a little pat on the back. Good job! You have now become part of a small elite group whose machines will be a little tougher to exploit.  

    Sadly, however, the Windows operating system is the most attacked system on the market due to market share, age of the code bases, and complexity. You are also going to have to turn on some antivirus and enable the Windows firewall.  The FREE windows defender Antivirus is great don’t buy anything else and if you already did then please uninstall that garbage and install Defender instead.  Turn on Defender and allow it to get its updates and run a full scan of your file system.  If you want I will happily wax poetic over a roaring camp fire and some whiskey about the pros and cons of third party antivirus but the reality is that ONLY Windows Defender gets access to the ooey gooey guts of the operating systems in a safe way. Every other solution is jamming its grubby little hands deep into the operating system to see what’s going on. Often, it gets it wrong and lets in attackers instead of keeping them out.   As for the Windows firewall, it’s pretty great, too. Enable it and set your rig wifi to be “home” and anytime you join a new network, set it as a public network so that people at the coffee shop can’t make unauthorized incoming connections.

    If you have a Mac machine then you are a bit safer here, there are no real viruses so no real need for anti-virus solutions, but I do run my Mac with the firewall turned on to keep the unauthorized applications from accepting incoming connection.

    As far as other operating systems (Apple iOS, ChromeOs, Android, etc) go, just make sure your OS and applications are updated and you will be fine. There is no need to add antivirus or antimalware to your phone.

    Finally, please make sure that your email client is setup to use and encrypted protocol (HTTPS, POPs, IMAPs, SMTPs).  If you are using mainstream free email setups like Gmail or Yahoo with your browser, you are fine keep doing that.  If you have it setup in your Outlook or Mac Mail, go into settings and make sure your that the client is configured to use SSL/TLS for the incoming and outgoing servers.  If you don’t have this turned on, your email client is sending your username and password in the clear across the Internet every time you check your email or send an email. So, change it, then go change your email password.

    Choose Your Networks Wisely!

    Finally, take a moment to understand what network your device is connecting to and try to make an assessment as whether it is safe.  In my bus, I have a WifiRanger (running on 12v power) that acts as my Wi-Fi when I am near the bus. I can connect it to my Wi-Fi hotspot for internet connectivity or use some other Wi-Fi network (like at an RV park).  

    I have my 2 AppleTV’s, my Network Attached Storage Array (for movies, music, and backup), my Victron gear, my phone and my iPad all connecting to the “Bussy McBussface” name on the Wi-Fi Ranger.  When I got to a park or if I was moochdocking with a friend I would login to the Wi-Fi Ranger and have it reach out to my friend’s, or the park’s, Wi-Fi.  That way everything in the bus was safe behind the WifiRanger and I didn’t have to change all my gear around every time the Wi-Fi name and password changed.  When I was on the road, I definitely found myself connecting to some sketchy networks just to be able to get my email or stream something, but I would not have done so without the WifiRanger acting as a firewall for the bus. 

    Now, some of you know me know that my big pink bus does not stealth camp, at all. There were times that I would go into town to get fast Wi-Fi.  In those cases, I was usually picky about where I was getting Wi-Fi, trying to stick to establishments where you had to ask for the password and it wasn’t just a signal that said “Free Wi-Fi.”  I consider the “Free Wi-Fi” signal to be akin to a white windowless van with the hand painted cardboard sign that says “free candy.”  Don’t do it, go to a Starbucks or the local Library or McDonalds.

    That’s it! Really… There’s a lot more to do in my consulting practice but honestly if everyone, including every firm I have worked and consulted for in the last 25 years, followed these rules we would likely have a much safer Internet.  If you want to chat in detail feel free to reach out, hit me up on Facebook or over email and hopefully I can help you out!


    Kyle Starkey

    Kyle has been in Internet Security for more than 25 years professionally and spent his youth hacking phone systems and logging into computers attached to modems before the days of the Internet. He spent a year full time on the road in his Prevost bus, towing his Jeep and seeing the county with his dog Zen. He has since come back to his sticks and bricks in Scottsdale, but continues to be involved with Xscapers Community for convergences and other RV adventures. Kyle also runs an Information Security focused consulting practice called Cyber Nomad Security helping customers to ensure their systems and practices are secure.

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  • Organizing Your Digital Workspace

    Organizing Your Digital Workspace was originally published on www.xscapers.com

    This is a transcript from a live webinar called Organizing Your Digital Workspace. Watch the Webinar here on the Escapees RV Club website or scroll down to the bottom of this article.

    You can view the entire Escapees RV Club Webinar Archive here. 

    Being organized and doing most everything digitally is super important to this lifestyle. Organization leads to improved efficiency, freeing up our minds to focus on the tasks at hand and freeing up our time to get out and explore. 

    My husband and I live in a 37-foot travel trailer full-time with five kids and a dog. To be able to work, have a business, and get to spend time with family and actually explore, I have to be organized. Here are a couple of tools I use, and recommend to my clients, to maintain an organized digital workspace.

    Notion - A Digital Hub For Keeping It All Together

    Having an organized workspace really begins with having a digital hub where everything goes. It’s easy to end up with tools for everything. There’s that saying, “there’s an app for that.” Just because there is an app for that doesn’t mean you need to have it. When we start to feel scattered, we turn to our digital hub. Notion is the tool I’ve gravitated to for that purpose.

    I love Notion because it’s flexible. I can store information in almost any format and organize it however I want. Whether it’s audio, images, text, any type of data can go into it. So many alternatives are very limited, only allowing you to store photos or photos and texts. With Notion, being able to toss the data in there and organize different pieces together is something I really appreciate. 

    It’s also shareable. We enjoy building our travels plans and reservations into a list we can share with friends and family. This allows them to see where we’re going to be and maybe meet up or share with family back home so they can keep tabs on where we are. It’s really practical for daily things like grocery lists, too, so we always have it with us. It’s very shareable in small chunks so that you can share the right things with the right people.

    Another big perk of Notion versus other options is that Notion is usable. This sounds odd, but so many other systems are meant for storing and organizing information. With Notion you actually get to use the information that you’ve so painstakingly gathered. I call it my reliable external brain. I love that I can put down thoughts and ideas and quotes I’ve come across, and then three months later when I’m writing a blog post that’s related to that topic, I don’t have to depend on my brain, which is kind of holey like Swiss cheese, to remember those things. 

    Amazing Marvin - A Task Manager Unlike Any Other

    Amazing Marvin is a task manager, and it’s really unlike any other task manager that I think I’ve ever used. I love systems and built a business around systems before having any idea I had ADHD. My diagnosis actually revealed to me why I’m good at systems – they’ve been a coping mechanism. It’s how I’ve functioned. I was always looked at as driven and ambitious, but it was really just I had systems and I moved really fast. So, when I found a task manager that can keep up with that and be flexible, I was ecstatic. 

    This is the primary reason I love it. It’s flexible. If you’ve ever thought, “Oh, I want to try organizing my task list this way,” you usually have to find a new planner or app and insert your information all over again. Amazing Marvin has that within it. You can switch to a whole new way of organizing your tasks without switching to a new app and having to reimport everything.

    It’s super customizable and can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like. They have what they call strategies and you can turn them on and off, down to being able to estimate your time, track your time, change the way things are organized and tiered, etc. And, of course, it’s ADHD friendly. If you have ADHD, you have issues like procrastination, trouble prioritizing, and it really does have tools that help with all of those and a lot of gamification within that. 

    Google Drive - A Staple For Any Digital Workspace

    Now we’re going to get into two really obvious tools here that I think are super core to having an organized digital workspace, and that’s Google Drive and Google Chrome. I cringe any time someone’s still using Microsoft Word and they’re in a collaborative space. Whether we’re working with clients or coworkers, using something like Microsoft Word is just a little bit outdated because we constantly have to decide like, “Is this the most recent version of a file? Did I get the updates you sent?” Google Drive is a huge help with this because it’s real time collaboration. Being able to edit on the fly with a coworker can be really handy. If my assistant is helping me with proofreading an email series, or if I’m working with a client, being able to make those edits without having to re-save, update the file name to indicate its current, resend—all of that is eliminated, making the process of collaborating much easier.

    Your files in Google Drive are always up to date, thanks to autosave. You even have revision history! If you accidentally delete an entire thing, or a collaborator makes changes that need to be reversed, your original document is still there in the version histories. Autosave can also be a lifesaver when we have to work offline. Those of us who are nomadic don’t always have a reliable internet connection. Thanks to Google Drive’s autosave, we can work offline and not worry. It’s still going to save. It’s still going to upload. We’re still going to have that version history.

    Within Google Drive, you have docs, you have spreadsheets, you have slides, and they all work so nice and neat together. I never thought I would be giddy that I could take a set of cells in a spreadsheet and embed them in a slide or a word document and be able to edit them and update them without copying and pasting all over again. It seems minor until you have to do reports for people and put them in another method. Not everyone prefers looking at spreadsheets, and clients may rely on you to break down the information into more digestible chunks. Because of Google’s integration between their file types, pulling pieces of different docs together is much easier than you’d think!

    The last thing I enjoy about Google Drive is that you can organize a file in your folder system, and then that file is shared with somebody else and somebody, they can organize it in their own file structure. Maybe you prefer to organize by project, but another collaborator prefers to organize by date. You can both store the exact same file in your individual organizational structures without problem! I cannot tell you enough how much I love that.

    Google Chrome - A Truly Powerful Browser

    Continuing with the Google thing, we have Google Chrome. This is really the most powerful of the browsers when it comes to being able to work efficiently. Your browser is the thing you use the most during the day, so it should be a help, not a hindrance.

    One of the reasons I love Google Chrome is it allows me to set boundaries. At the top of your browser window is an icon where you can select which account you want to use (if you use multiple Google accounts). If you’re multi-tasking work and personal needs, you can sign into one set of browser windows with your personal Gmail and another set of browser windows with your work one and move between the two as needed without signing in and out every time you switch, also making it easier to ensure you don’t send an email from the wrong account or save a file to the wrong drive. Because we can’t always create boundaries between our personal and our professional lives, especially when we’re nomadic entrepreneurs, it is important to create them where we can to keep things manageable.

    I made the joke earlier, “There’s an app for that and it doesn’t mean you need it.” There’s an extension for that, too! There are some really awesome ones for Chrome. Forest helps me focus by blocking sites I don’t need to be on during a certain time. LastPass, Grammarly, OneTab—there are so many amazing extensions that can make life easier, which also make my browser more of a help than a hindrance. 

    Chrome also has the omni bar, which goes beyond the standard URL bar. Unlike other browsers, Google’s omni bar serves as a URL bar, a search tool, conversion calculator, time zone calculator, and much more. Another handy feature of the omni bar is how it keeps my workspace neater. You know how it can be when you really get into a project, you end up with a bunch of windows and tabs open. With omni bar, when you try to open a “new” page you may have forgotten you opened an hour and six tabs ago, it will tell you, “Hey, you have this open already” and just take you straight to it. Really, really helpful.

    The fourth reason I love Google Chrome is syncing. Your individual accounts (see my note above about boundaries) also have individual search histories and bookmarks. When you sign into that account from a different device, like a smart phone, you can access your recent history, bookmarks, etc, even if you were working on that same account on your laptop. This can be so handy for simple things like checking recipes to make sure you’re buying all the needed ingredients, and for more complicated things like having to relocate from a desktop computer in your RV workspace to a laptop at the local library when your internet gives you problems. 

    Acuity Scheduling - Protect Your Time

    Now we’re going to get into some tools that are a little bit more specific in what they do. Acuity Scheduling is one for keeping your calendar organized. Time is a nonrenewable resource, and your calendar should be sacred. If you are booking things with clients, coworkers, having a tool that allows you to put in your availability, set some boundaries, and then people can book based on their time zone and when they’re available, removes the back-and-forth scheduling tennis. You can send a link with your availability, and they can figure out when their availability syncs up with yours. It’s basically like having an assistant to do your scheduling and you’re just outsourcing it with a link.

    Acuity Scheduling also helps you limit others’ abuse of your time. When you’ve spent time and money developing your expertise, you often have people who want to “pick your brain” about something. There is a time and place for helping out friends and colleagues and allowing that dynamic to happen, but more and more, it’s a way for people to get free consultant work. With Acuity, you can set up “pick m y brain” appointments and even charge a fee, reminding others that this is a service you provide having dedicated time and money to learn it. You didn’t just wake up one day knowing things.

    Loom - Because A Video Is Worth 10,000 Words

    A video is worth 10,000 words. Loom works both as a desktop app and as a Chrome extension, and it allows you to record your screen, make a video of yourself, or do both. The best part of Loom is that, instead of having to deal with downloading the video then sending or uploading elsewhere to share, it’s automatically available with a link. People watching it can even reply, with their comment timestamped for easier reference. It puts feedback within context, so it really just speeds things up.

    It can also be great if you are reaching out to customer service and need to show them what’s going wrong. You can record your screen and interactions with their product to demonstrate the issue, speeding up the troubleshooting process immensely. Same convenience applies if you’re trying to teach someone something. You can use Loom to record the process of how it’s done and send the link. Thanks to their commenting feature, you can also answer questions the recipient may have more efficiently and effectively by seeing where in the video they became confused.

    Franz - Keep All Your Communications In One Place

    And then there’s Franz. We have so many communication apps between Facebook Messenger, Instagram DMs, Slack, Skype, What’s App, etc. Having all of those apps running on our computer or other device slows them down. Franz brings all of those together into one app, one place so that you can have all of those at your fingertips at once. It also means you can shut them all off at once when you need to focus. 

    Krisp - An AI App To Drown Out The Noise

    And then lastly, we have Krisp. It’s technically an AI app, part of your computer or your phone. Krisp’s purpose is to drown out background noise. It works between your microphone or headphones and the recording device to cut out background noise. Need to take calls from a coffee shop? It’ll silence the background noise. 

    Though this isn’t technically an organizational tool, it’s vital to my digital workspace. It’s such a freeing thing because it eliminated the panic over where to go for an important call or meeting when the kids are rowdy, it’s grounds maintenance day at the RV park, or someone else in the RV has their own call or meeting they need to attend that also requires a quiet space. If you’ve stayed in an RV park as a remote worker, you know that, without fail, your busiest day of the workweek will coincide with the day park staff decide to mow the property. Knowing my clients won’t hear the mower six feet from my RV makes for a more peaceful and productive work day!

    And that’s my list! These eight tools have been invaluable in helping me organize both my personal life and my business. As an entrepreneur serving my own clients, it is incredibly important that I keep my digital workspace organized so I can answer their questions and needs efficiently. These tools help me do just that!


    Dani Schnakenberg

    Dani is a Business Systems Strategist. She helps entrepreneurs who want to ditch overwhelm to create a sustainable, dreamy business through establishing boundaries and systems that work for them.  After 8 years in entrepreneurship, she knows that it doesn’t have to be all about the hustle and grind. It’s the systems and processes that we build that allow us to build empires and live dreamy lives all at the same time.

    When she’s not nerding out over workflows, spreadsheets, and statistics, you can find Dani traveling with her husband and five kids, taking in a baseball game, or getting a little bit of peace and quiet on her yoga mat. Get all of Dani’s best tips, tricks, and tutorials at https://simplifiedbusinesssystems.com.

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  • Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams

    Collaboration Tools for Remote Teams was originally published on www.xscapers.com

    For many, working remotely is both a dream come true and an exercise in isolation.  We love the freedom and flexibility but crave the connection that comes with working alongside other people toward a common goal.  And if we’re honest, email and text messages aren’t quite enough to fill that gap.

    So today, I’m rounding up my favorite collaboration tools for remote teams.  Whether your team is just you and a virtual assistant or business partner, or it’s a collection of individual teams spread globally, these tools will help bring you to get things done apart but together.

    As a bonus, most of the tools shared here are accessible to small businesses at free or relatively low cost. 


    Loom is possibly the most straightforward tool on the entire list, but I consider it to have the most significant impact.  For many of my clients, adopting a screen share video tool into their workflow drastically improved their team’s communication and collaboration. 

    While there are other options out there, I find myself partial to Loom for its ease of use and the fact that it beautifully integrates with nearly every other tool I recommend.  Loom has an application for almost every operating system, and it embeds beautifully in many of the platforms we’re already using.  It’s as easy to create and share the videos as it is to watch and give feedback.

    And to be honest, there are many times that text alone, or even a static screenshot, just won’t do.  Recording a quick video can help us close communication gaps and overcome barriers more efficiently.


    Whether we’re showing a teammate how to do something or describing a glitch we encountered to our tech support, a 30-second video can save us many back and forth messages.

    Quick videos can also have a considerable impact on customer service, and I cannot recommend using them there enough!

    Who should use this tool?  Loom is for anyone who needs to communicate with other people, inside or outside of the company, and can benefit from a more visual communication method than email alone.


    Slack is possibly the most well-known team communication tool.  It’s a marvel for keeping well-organized conversations going and is often a central hub for remote teams of all sizes.

    Perhaps one of its most underrated uses is as a central notification hub.  You can tie in numerous platforms and receive all of your notifications in a single space, making it easier to get through them and keep things from falling through the cracks. The ability to tie in your task manager (Trello, Asana, Todoist, ClickUp, etc.), document hubs (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, etc.), and calendars (Google, Outlook) gives you a command center that helps you feel less scattered.

    Another bonus of Slack is the ability to connect with your virtual meeting platform of choice and quickly launch team meetings or 1-on-1 conversations.  Sometimes there’s no replacement for a face-to-face meeting, even if it’s virtual.  The ability to talk things out in real-time can save a lot of frustration for remote teams.  And if you can’t quite find a time that matches up, it’s effortless to drop a Loom video into a Slack conversation and cut down on the back and forth by communicating visually.

    Who should use this tool? Slack is for teams who need a central communication hub but aren’t using another tool that meets that need.

    Google Workspace

    Google recently stepped up its collection of tools for remote teams with their updates to what was formerly known as G-Suite.

    While I’ve always loved Google Docs and Spreadsheets for collaborating, it’s now even easier to do it in real-time by launching a video chat inside the document you’re working on.

    Google Workspace adds real-time communication tools to the apps we already use and love like Gmail, Drive, and Calendar.


    Who should use this tool? Google Workspace is for teams who need to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.  It’s also for teams who need organized email and calendaring solutions that work well on various operating systems.

    Help Scout

    While marketed as a customer support platform, Help Scout is a fantastic tool for managing any sort of shared inbox. 

    Help Scout allows you to manage multiple shared inboxes by delegating messages to team members, allowing you to see message history for that customer, and facilitating team member discussions about particular emails.  Ultimately, it’s a fantastic way to keep a shared inbox organized without worrying about any messages going unanswered or multiple responses being sent simultaneously.

    Who should use this tool? Help Scout is for teams that need an organized shared inbox, customer help center, or customer-facing knowledge bases.

    If you don’t need a full help desk solution, Hiver is a more scaled-down option that lives right in your Gmail account.  Or, if your team is all Mac users, Spark Mail is a great email app that features robust team collaboration tools. (Spark Mail is currently working on an application for Windows and will be amazing once it’s available cross-platform.)


    ClickUp is the ultimate project management tool.  Having been around the block and used everything else from Basecamp to Trello and Asana to Todoist, nothing quite matches the power of ClickUp.

    Whether you’re looking for a basic shared to-do list or need more involved features to create a company-wide productivity headquarters, ClickUp is up for the challenge.

    Perhaps my favorite feature of Clickup is its ability to house various forms of information in a very organized way.  It’s ridiculously easy to connect Google Docs and Spreadsheets or record and embed a screen share video. 

    ClickUp can quickly become your all-in-one business hub that works wonderfully for teams of all sizes, especially large, complicated ones.

    Who should use this tool? While ClickUp can work for any size team, I find it works best for teams of 5+ who want the capability of advanced features like dependencies and detailed time tracking and are looking for an all-in-one solution.  Smaller teams may find ClickUp can be a bit of overkill for their needs.


    I saved the best for last.  Notion is a favorite of mine, both on a personal level and a professional one. 

    If you have a smaller team or need something less linear than ClickUp, I highly recommend Notion.  While it offers some of the same features, like the ability to play nicely with Google Docs and embedded media, you aren’t stuck with the rigid list structure of a project management tool like ClickUp.

    Notion is best described as like building with Lego.  It’s a blank slate, and you can create exactly what you need to suit your business and work style using their various “blocks.” It can be a little intimidating to get started with, but it’s always worth it.

    I use Notion both personally and professionally.  It’s as well suited to managing the minute details of nomad life (grocery shopping, reservations, and remembering regular tasks around the rig) as it is to planning complicated project plans for my business.

    Notion is particularly well suited to people who identify as neuro-diverse as it’s less rigid than most available apps.  It combines structured databases and templates with the ability to build, change, and grow as our plans do.

    Notion works particularly well for building a company wiki and housing references for company systems and processes.  I also find that it’s fantastic for sharing only specific things with clients and outside contractors.

    Who should use this tool? Notion can work for teams small and large that want a more flexible platform to build to fit their needs.  I do not recommend Notion for larger teams who rely heavily on automations or built-in time tracking.

    Team collaboration tools are as varied as the teams who use them.  Some tools are well suited for teams of 2-10, while others work better for larger teams.  But many tools can be configured to work no matter your team size.

    The key to finding the tools that work for you is understanding how you use them and what purpose they are serving.  As the popularity of remote work grows, the ability to utilize real-time collaboration alongside the asynchronous features we’re used to increases importance.

    Choosing tools that support your work style and your team’s natural communication tendencies will reduce frustration for everyone involved.

    My biggest advice for choosing collaboration tools is to go with as few as possible and make sure that your team understands which tools are to be used for what.

    Once you’ve chosen your tools, it’s worth spending the time to properly set up your platforms and train your team on how to use them. The learning curve and struggles that teams have with new systems and processes are almost always reduced by taking the time to do it right and communicate it well.

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    Dani Schnakenberg

    Dani is a Business Systems Strategist. She helps entrepreneurs who want to ditch overwhelm to create a sustainable, dreamy business through establishing boundaries and systems that work for them.  After 7 years in entrepreneurship, she knows that it doesn’t have to be all about the hustle and grind. It’s the systems and processes that we build that allow us to build empires and live dreamy lives all at the same time.

    When she’s not nerding out over workflows, spreadsheets, and statistics, you can find Dani traveling with her husband and five kids, taking in a baseball game, or getting a little bit of peace and quiet on her yoga mat. Get all of Dani’s best tips, tricks, and tutorials at https://simplifiedbusinesssystems.com.

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  • RV Mobile Workspaces: Creating a Mobile Office

    RV Mobile Workspaces: An Office with a View was originally published on www.xscapers.com

    Xscapers is Geared Toward Working Age RVers

    Xscapers is a support network for the Escapees RV club that is geared toward working age RVers. Because of this, many Xscapers have found unique ways to incorporate a comfortable workspace into their RV. This allows them to take care of business, travel, and explore in comfort. 

    If you’ve ever longed for an office with a view, take a look at these RV workspaces. Maybe you’ll find inspiration to take your life on the road and have an ever changing view from your RV office. 

    Xscapers Mobile Offices

    David Goldstein - Marketing Strategist

    What he does:
    David works around 15 hours per week as a marketing strategist for Escapees RV Club.

    Favorite feature:
    He most appreciates having the flexibility to have a standing RV desk when needed. His desk can convert from seated to standing with a few quick adjustments.

    How it happened:
    David and his wife, Cheryl, removed previous furniture, which included two recliners, from the end of their living room area. They then painted that space a bright, welcoming blue, adding some personality to the small space. Then, David found a convertible standing desk, updated small pieces of décor and purchased a comfortable chair. The entire cost to renovate their RV office was roughly $400-$450, which was offset by selling the furniture they removed.

    Their RV before the couch was removed for David's desk.

    Their space is a great option for those who don’t want to make significant changes that affect resale options. Though they did remove furniture, it isn’t difficult to replace that for the next buyer, or for the next owner to create their own plans for this space. Also, because it is part of their main living area, it is important for them to keep the area neat and integrated into the rest of the living room.

    Denny Winkowski - Client Executive

    What he does:
    Denny works full-time, 40 hours per week, as client executive. He must maintain a rigid schedule, adhering to the Eastern time zone regardless of where his travels take him.

    Favorite feature:
    He and his wife, Veronica, have a unique setup. They own a toy hauler motorhome, with a convertible bunk/patio space. Denny’s RV office is in this area of the rig. When it’s a gorgeous day, he lowers the rear door and creates a patio space that allows fresh air and the sounds of nature to fill his office.

    How it happened:
    When asked how much this setup cost, Denny was unable to pinpoint an amount. The space is part of the floor plan of the rig, so they didn’t need to do much to arrange his needed equipment and furniture. Also, much of what he uses as a RV desk was re-purposed from other furniture. For example, he has two short metro racks as ‘legs’ for his desk, which provide storage space for his CPU, router, and other equipment. A slab lays across these two racks to create his work surface, which accommodates two monitors, a keyboard, mouse, multi-line phone, cell phone stand, and other tools.

    With the back deck down Denny gets an office with a view!

    Veronica Ibanes - Graphic Designer

    What she does:
    Veronica works 40 hours per week as a graphic designer for a national bank. She, too, must retain a fixed schedule that adheres to Eastern time zone. This often results in early nights and even earlier mornings when she and her husband, Denny, are traveling on the West coast.

    Favorite feature:
    She most appreciates the view from her RV workspace. Her workspace is set up in the front of their rig, at the opposite end from Denny. While she gets to enjoy the view from the front windows, she also has more quiet time. The insulated walls of the rig dampen exterior noises, and if she needs to remove all distractions, she can also pull down the window shades to create a quiet place conducive to focused work.

    How it happened:
    Her setup is unique compared to her coworkers, but a common approach for many RVers. She uses the passenger captain’s seat as her office chair, facing the front of the rig throughout her work day. Her primary computer is mounted to the cabinet above, and flips down when needed, and folds up to stow away when not. The dashboard serves as a desktop where her keyboard lives, in addition to whatever other tools she needs handy. To her left is a console table that serves as a secondary workspace during the day. Because much of her equipment is provided by her employer, she doesn’t have a rough figure on the cost to set up her workspace. However, tech aside, much of what she uses is either standard in many rigs, or is multi-purpose in that it serves other purposes on non-work days.

    Something worth noting in both Denny’s and Veronica’s workspaces is the level of personalization. Though these spaces must serve a functional purpose, each have included travel mementos and other small touches that make their desks more comfortable and enjoyable, much as you would a standard office. Also, though both have rigorous work schedules, Denny has more freedom to move throughout the rig during the workday during his breaks. Because of this, he takes care of their pets, makes meals/snacks, and assists with other small tasks during the day, allowing Veronica to stay focused. This arrangement has worked well for them in their five years of traveling while working remotely.

    Bernal Schooley - Software Developer

    What he does:
    Bernal is a software developer, working 40 hours per week. He has been working remotely and traveling for approximately one year.

    Favorite feature:
    One of his favorite components of his workspace is his widescreen monitor. Instead of having a multiple-monitor setup, his single monitor can display 2-3 different screens simultaneously, reducing the number of cords and other clutter on his desktop. His wife created a harness of sorts for it, so that on travel days it can be secured to the wall of the rig to prevent it from falling or sliding around.

    How it happened:
    After considering different options, Bernal and his wife Kathy decided to remove the built-in seating and turn that area into a workspace for each of them. Because he is the primary source of income, his needs were prioritized as they laid out the space. His monitor sits on what used to be the shelf behind their sofa, while all of the cables, internet equipment and such are stored in the cabinet above his workspace. Bernal has a custom keyboard tray built into the shelf so it sits at the perfect height for him. There are several other custom components that he and Kathy have created All of the cables, boxes, etc associated are stored in the overhead cabinet at his workspace. Altogether, it cost an estimated $300 to complete these changes. They have used this setup for approximately a year.

    Though this setup works great for his 9-5, Bernal wishes he had a little more privacy at times. Not from Kathy, but from distractions in general. Currently, when he has a conference call or other important phone call, Kathy puts on noise cancelling headphones and finds things to do elsewhere in the rig to occupy herself. It can also be problematic to do daily maintenance tasks (washing dishes, prepping meals, entertaining the dog, etc) while Bernal is working due to the potential for noise disturbing him.

    Eric & Katherine Larson - Radiation Therapist and Mortgage Policy Writer

    What they do:
    Katherine works forty to fifty hours each week as a mortgage policy writer. She has worked remotely for four years, but has been traveling while working for the past year. Eric works twenty hours per week as a radiation tech. While he does work remotely, much of his work is conducted on-site at varying locations.

    Favorite feature:
    Katherine and her husband share a workspace, so flexibility is very important to them both. She really enjoys being able to ‘change the scenery’ when needed. For example, she spends all of her work time at her desk, whereas Eric works on-site fairly often. So, if she’s bored of looking at one side of the rig, she can easily rearrange her equipment and create a different view for herself without excluding Eric’s needs for space.

    How it happened:
    Their workspace is very small, as Eric and Katherine currently share the dinette in their Class B motorhome, but it has exactly what they need. It’s also very comfortable- Katherine sits in the driver’s seat, turned to face the dinette table. This allows her to sit back and relax at times, as well as immerse herself in her work. She uses an ultrawide monitor that is mounted to an articulating arm, so she can move and rotate her monitor to her needs, as well as maintain comfortable posture, making her long hours easier to endure. Instead of a CPU, she has this monitor wired into her laptop, allowing her to get maximum use of her work surface. All of the windows are covered in Reflectix, both for added insulation and isolation and privacy during work hours. A skylight above her seat allows natural light in, which helps conserve electricity as well as gives her workspace a nice ambiance. Eric’s setup consists of an iPad and a laptop, both of which are used daily. Because they are often on-site with him, too, none of his equipment is affixed to their workspace.

    Melinda Collings - Business Intelligence Developer

    What she does:
    Melinda is a Business Intelligence Developer, working forty hours per week, fully remote.

    Favorite feature:
    She most appreciates that her workspace is secure, and doesn’t need to be put away every time they move. The desk is bolted to the floor, and her chair slides snugly under it. All parts are located on the same slide, so no need to shift things around when closing the slide for travel!

    How it happened:
    They created the space by removing their dinette and installing a custom-built desk. This setup is particularly nifty because the desk was built to accommodate a dog crate in addition to providing a workspace. It is made of plywood and stained blue to match the custom dining room table. “It cost us about $50 to make the desk, only because an amazingly talented master cabinet maker gifted us the construction of it.” Her equipment consists of dual monitors, an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, all of which fit comfortably on the desktop. She enjoys ample natural lighting thanks to the windows surrounding her space, including an entertaining view of her hummingbird feeder.

    Lisa & Dan Brown - Bloggers/Brand Ambassadors

    What they do:
    Lisa and Dan work approximately 25 hours per week, earning income from blogging, writing, influencing, and serving as brand ambassadors.

    Favorite feature:
    They love all of their workspace. “When we work, we get to look out the back window at our new view which inspires creativity and free thought,” says Lisa. They have also incorporated pet beds into their workspace, giving their cats a place to rest and keep them company while working.

    How it happened:
    Lisa and Dan recognized the need for a workspace that would accommodate them collaborating as well as working separately. They made plans to carve out space in their 41’ 5th wheel that included removing furniture and replacing it with more functional pieces.

    Like many RVs, their living room area consisted of a sleeper sofa, recliners, and an entertainment center.
    Upon deciding to remove the sofa, they began looking for the perfect desk for that space. They selected a table from Ikea that would allow them to use both as a workspace and as a place to entertain guests. Though it doesn’t have the storage they would have gotten with a traditional desk, they have appreciated its versatility.

    To freshen up the space, they took on a total-rig update with new paint, new flooring, new décor, and more, which included their new workspace. Their now flexible workspace cost them around $600, including the desk, two chairs, and desk accessories.

    Before their interior upgrades.

    Travis and Melanie Carr - President and VP of Escapees RV Club

    What they do:
    They are the President and Vice President of Escapees RV Club. They also serve on the Board of Directors for the organization, directly manage several projects, and play a role in the daily operations. They both work 40 hours a week or more.

    Favorite feature:
    Their favorite part about their setup is the ability to place their large monitors for their desktop computers on the ledge that runs along the side of our RV. In previous setups, they always had to have small laptops to save counter space which were not very efficient for the way they work. While they oversee and manage separate projects, the majority of their time is spent working together. Being able to have a setup that puts them side-by-side is advantageous for when they need to talk through something or hop on a meeting together. Overall, the setup is quick and easy. The ledge also keeps space open for other things like the dining table, so they have almost nothing that needs to be moved other than a keyboard and mouse.

    How it happened:
    A little luck and a little trial and error! This is their third RV and they have always struggled to find a comfortable working space. When they first transitioned to part-timing in the Monaco Knight, they were fearful about the layout not working because the only options were centered around the dining area. They always aim to not modify their RV’s for resale value, so they tend to work within the limitations of the RV. This also means they did not have to put any money into the workspace.

    The area where Travis works was already semi-set up for working with a pullout drawer to put a keyboard or laptop in and a pullout for a printer underneath. That kept his keyboard/cords and other items off of the countertop space and then he placed his monitor on the ledge. There is also plenty of cabinet space underneath the ledge for him to place his desktop tower. Melanie uses a desktop iMac computer, which gets placed on the ledge and the keyboard and mouse are small and used on the table. Travis does not have to move anything during travel days—his monitor rides on the ledge and Melanie just unplugs her iMac and places it on the bed while traveling.

    Brandon Hatcher and Kerensa Durr - RV Educators and Content Strategy Directors

    What they do:
    They are RV educators as well as part time content strategy directors for Escapees RV Club. They live full-time in their RV and work 40+ hours a week. 

    Favorite feature:
    Their favorite part about their setup is that they didn’t have to make many modifications to their RV to make it work. This is their second RV and they searched hard for an RV that provides a good workspace with nice light and good airflow so they are comfortable working even when camping off grid. 

    How it happened:
    After finding a floorplan that they liked and would work well as a mobile office they made some minor changes to make the space work better for them. They removed the fronts of the drawers under the counter tops and put hinges on them so that they can fold down out of the way. Then they made wood tops for the drawers to serve as keyboard trays. 
    Their computers are kept in a cabinet down below. They added cooling fans to the side of the cabinet to make sure the computers stay cool, and they drilled hoes in the counter top to allow them to keep most of the wires out of site. When they travel the only thing they have to do is unplug the monitors and put them down on the floor. In the future they will be changing out the counter tops, blinds and decor to make the interior look a little less “RV”.

    Jessica Schultz - UX (web) Designer

    What she does:
    Jessica is a UX designers for  non-profit organization. She works 40 hours a week.  

    Favorite feature:
    The flexibility of standing or sitting, and the fact that it all packs away nicely when she’s not working.

    How it happened:

    Sitting on the settee was terrible for her back, so she removed half of the settee and swapped it with a supportive chair. Even in a nice chair, sitting all day wasn’t ideal, so she asked her uncle to help her concoct a non-destructive way to hang my monitor at a standing height. This gives her multiple work options in her RV. 

    Additional things that make this work:

    •  WeBoost cell booster 
    • AT&T hotspot
    • Adjustable laptop stand
    • Ergodriven anti-fatigue mat

    Do you have an RV workspace that you would like to share? Send us some pics and information about how your work space works for you.

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