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Our editor Daniel Sacha writes from Japan:
Is Japan an ideal country for digital nomads? Well… let's see. Here are some first-hand observations.
Personally, I'm perfectly happy with the time difference here, since I can go on a trip and be active on the PC at a time when colleagues and clients in Europe are just waking up (while it's 4 p.m. here, it's only 8 a.m. at home). You just have to remember to come back from these trips, because if you really love this country, you really don't want to come back to the computer. And at the same time, I'm working on things that I really enjoy.
It's worse with the internet, which I feel especially when I'm actually traveling. Although I think it has improved a lot in the last ten years, I prefer not to rely on internet connections in public places. And I recommend asking before booking accommodation, because even in hotels or Airbnb apartments, the internet can be an Achilles' heel.
Fortunately, you can solve this problem with something called Pocket WiFi. It's a little box about the size of a power bank that contains a SIM card (in my case) with unlimited data and transfer speeds. It's a fact that it's been bugging me a lot this year, but other times I haven't had a problem with it. To give you an idea, the monthly rental for such a device comes out to about €4 per day and multiple devices can be connected to it at the same time.
By the way, while I'm on the subject of accommodation, there are plenty of types to choose from here and changing them can be a great way to get the creativity flowing. While my first post was sent to you from a typical apartment near downtown Osaka, a city of several million people, today I'm sitting on the tatami between the four bare walls of a traditional, centuries-old house in the middle of the Kannawa spa area.
And in a few days, my favorite capsule hotel, where I've done most of my work on past trips, awaits. The possibilities are endless. But I'd recommend practicing working in a slightly hunched position, since it's definitely not the norm to have a classic desk in your apartment.
Of course, you can also go to a coworking space, of which I happen to have one across the street (a day's work for about €6.60 / month from €66 depending on the plan), and in Tokyo and Kyoto there are branches of the well-known Impact Hub (basic membership from €75).
You might also be interested in what it is like to work on trains, especially the Shinkansen. It's fine, you have an electrical outlet, WiFi, a small table at each seat, quite a bit of leg room and space for your backpack, but I find it hard to work there. Part of the reason is that I find the constant going through the tunnels distracting, which is a bit annoying without better noise-canceling headphones, probably because of the speed. And because Japan is a very mountainous country, you'll be in tunnels for a good part of the trip on some of the main lines. Other than that, I love trains and it is by far my favorite mode of transportation.
A big help for all local travelers are definitely the ubiquitous konbini (convenience stores), which in most cases are open 24/7 and you can buy whatever you need at the time. A charger, a towel, ice cream, an energy drink and a hot lunch. You can make a cup of tea, connect to WiFi, get money from the ATM, go to the bathroom and print documents. I love it. Just be aware that this convenience comes at a price, and compared to supermarkets, you'll pay about 10-20% more for mainstream products. The most common chains are 7-Eleven, Lawson's and Family Mart. Public laundromats are also plentiful.
You'll especially appreciate ATM withdrawals, as Japan, strange as it may seem, is still very much a country of physical money and, especially outside the big cities, they often won't take your card.
So. Maybe my brief summary will help you make your own decision. And if you're interested in anything else, let me know. Mata ne! In other words, I'll see you soon.
Breaking news: OpenAI has released the highly anticipated GPT-4 AI model in a limited trial version for paying users of ChatGPT Plus.
By the way, OpenAI recently acquired the AI.com domain, and every new product they release causes a worldwide stir. The GPT-4 model will be no exception. Many freelancers and especially knowledge workers will undoubtedly use it as a working tool.
If you work on a computer every day, good eyesight is essential. The world-renowned Huberman Lab popular science podcast covered this topic in an episode titled The Science of Vision, Eye Health & Seeing Better.
In less than 2 hours, Stanford neurobiology professor Andrew Huberman presents an amazing overview of the science. He explains how vision works and what each of us can do to improve and maintain it into old age. Among other things, he mentions these principles and protocols:
If you're interested, listen to the full episode on Spotify or YouTube:
If you enjoyed the first season of Clarkson’s Farm TV series which airs on Amazon Prime, you’ll be happy to know that after two years, Jeremy Clarkson is back. According to the reviews, Clarkson’s Farm 2 is as good as it gets (Rotten Tomatoes 100% so far, IMDb 9/10 overall).
In this eight-part documentary series, you can once again follow Jeremy Clarkson, creator and co-host of the popular shows Top Gear and The Grand Tour, as he takes up freelance farming (as a complete amateur). Watching him solve problems and avoid numerous business pitfalls is enlightening, exciting, frustrating, and a lot of fun. You can get an idea from the trailer:
Here’s a new testimonial from our member Jaromir Dvoracek, who’s an infrastructure solution architect and project manager:
“I needed to create a brand new website with my freelance services to back my ongoing offers and negotiations. But, unfortunately, the new website would take weeks of my time at best! So instead, I found a respected freelance portal, Freelancing.eu. The user experience is fantastic: I just explained what I do, and I've got a copywriter-level profile online in just a few days.”
⭐ Are you a freelancer too? Join us and reach out to new clients.
Our (senior) editor Dan Sacha writes from Japan:
Japan is the land of senior freelancers. This is not a joke or an exaggeration, but a statistical fact. There are over 90,000 people over the age of 100 in Japan. I notice this on a daily basis because, surprisingly, it is the elderly people with whom I strike up conversations — often at their instigation.
Of course, Japan's aging population and longevity pose many challenges. But from a purely day-to-day perspective, similar encounters and dedication to craft or commitment to life change at such an advanced age have always motivated me tremendously. And entertained.
I'm all the more curious to see what story awaits me this time…
PS: You can probably guess who is on this photo without further explanation.
Sharing business know-how with other freelancers is not only good for your karma (aka good name), but it's also a great way to make new freelance friends. Even better, Freelance Business Month 2023, with its open call for speakers, allows you to do this on a global scale! The popular online event, organized by Elina Jutelyte and her team, is scheduled for October, and they are accepting speaker applications until the end of March.
Our member Adam Zbiejczuk, who is recognized as a top-notch expert on LinkedIn, sent us a tip for a LinkedIn crash course that is especially relevant for us freelancers. The author, Jasmin Alić, writes about these key success factors:
URI, the largest organization supporting freelancers in Serbia, has published an upbeat review of The Freelance Way (or Put frilensera in Serbian), written by Ivana Matic—here’s Google’s English translation.
“If you are a beginning professional, The Freelance Way is a must read. If you already have experience as a freelancer, The Freelance Way can show you the importance of aspects you may have neglected or not fully mastered, reveal some important tools, and maybe explain something you didn't really understand all along. If this book reaches you and you are not freelancing, I guarantee it will strengthen your entrepreneurial spirit. Finally, if you do not currently belong to any of these three groups and you decide to read this book, you will inevitably belong to one of them after reading it.”
Freelance UK highlights a curious case of worker misclassification, which is now being heard in a UK court:
Two highly educated and well-respected creative writing lecturers are suing Oxford University for forcing them to accept unfavorable contract terms as self-employed but effectively treating them as employees, depriving them of a number of benefits. They speak of the "uberization of higher education" and claim that nearly 70% of people working for the university have similarly precarious contracts.
The burden of proof is on the two creatives, according to the article’s author, who is a lawyer. If they succeed, it could have a significant impact on the UK’s freelance economy.
Indeed, UK freelancers are already facing concerns from companies about hiring self-employed workers due to the new IR35 legislation designed to prevent the misclassification of employees. If it now turns out that self-employed workers can effectively claim retroactive compensation, it would likely make it harder for British freelancers to build long-term business relationships with corporate clients or institutions.