Millennials and Generation Z are ditching the traditional office for telecommuting opportunities. They no longer desire to work in a stuffy office cubicle but to be mobile.
So, how can you successfully improve your digital nomad living? You can enhance your digital nomad living by embracing flexible work arrangements, which helps to make remote workers more productive. Based on research, digital nomads are 13% more productive than their in-office counterparts.
Apart from embracing flexible work arrangements, remote workers need to have self-discipline. They must also leverage the power of technology to make work easier. That is, buy equipment such as a laptop, smartphone, tablet, and WiFi router. When it comes to software, you have a VPN, antivirus program, and document processing applications.
Are there more ways to improve digital nomad living? There are. In this article, we cover 15 ways remote workers can use to improve their productivity as they travel the globe.
1. RESEARCH! RESEARCH! RESEARCH!
Before selling your stuff and embarking on a journey around the world while working, it is crucial to do extensive research. Research helps you find useful information you can use to save and live inexpensively.
For instance, as a digital nomad, your work is depended on internet connectivity. Before choosing a location, it is wise to find out if the area has internet connectivity. Which broadband companies are available in the country? How much does it cost (internet plan)? Are there weekly and monthly plans? Do you have to purchase a new router?
Apart from internet connectivity, you need to find out the cost of travel and living expenses. As a digital nomad, traveling from one city to another is the best way to explore the world. The problem is, your living expenses can become unbearable if you do not research.
To live on the cheap and travel, hire a campervan or RV. Another option is to live in a tiny home. You can rent one on Airbnb. I wrote an article on how to choose the best accommodation which you might find helpful.
2. LEARN A NEW SKILL SET
To stay ahead of other remote workers, you must become versatile. How? By gaining additional industry skills. With these skills, you can market yourself and stay ahead of the curve.
In a 2018 report compiled by Betterment, more than one in three US workers are freelancers. According to the same article, this figure is expected to grow by 40% by the year 2020.
What this tells you is that freelancing is fast becoming a competitive field. If you want to earn big bucks to afford your lifestyle, you must offer something extra in terms of skills.
As a freelancer, there are tons of opportunities available online to help you improve your skills. You can browse free online guides and tutorials to grow your skills/ or enroll for a nanodegree.
You can also reach out to a friend who is a successful digital nomad to train you and impart new skills.
3. HAVE THE RIGHT MINDSET
Well, they don’t. The life of a digital nomad can turn out to be lonely. According to a 2017 study, remote workers feel shunned and left out. Feeling isolated from society is common among digital nomads and can lead to depression. To read more about this, check out my article Are Digital Nomads Always Alone.
To combat social isolation and loneliness, have the right mindset because this prepares you for the good and bad times ahead. Also, it equips you with the knowledge to solve various challenges.
There are more ways to combat social isolation. They include:
- Networking with fellow digital nomads
- Check-in with your family and friends, regularly and consistently
- Prioritize your relationship
- Date and find love
- Volunteer at charity based events
4. SET GROUND RULES
One of the main reasons a lot of people turn to freelance opportunities is to escape their monotonous daily routines. Unlike a 9 to 5 job, freelancing allows you to work and travel. As such, you get to enjoy both sides of the world.
Having a routine in your digital nomad life will increase productivity. For instance, if you meditate 30 minutes every morning before starting your work, you will be energized.
The benefits of a routine are the same if you start cycling or running every morning before work. Hydrating regularly is another routine you can integrate into your life. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water promotes healthy living, promotes weight loss and prevents overeating.
Don’t forget to eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When designing a routine, be creative. Find things you can do anywhere in the world with ease. Do not over routine your life.
5. INVEST IN HIGH-QUALITY EQUIPMENT
According to a Citrix study, 50% of the workforce will be office free by the year 2020. At the moment, digital nomads are way ahead of the curve. Not only are they skilled but they have invested in the best equipment technology can offer.
You too can be way ahead of the curve. All you have to do is invest in high-quality equipment.
For instance, you need a laptop, tablet, and smartphone. You also require a router -4G LTE or 5G compatible, headset and external hard drive. When shopping for equipment, there are a few factors to consider:
- Storage space
- Enough memory
- Long lasting battery
- Noise-canceling capability for headphones
When it comes to software, you need a word processor, spreadsheet, powerpoint, project management, VPN, video and voice call software. VPN and antivirus programs protect your laptop from hackers and malicious programs.
6. LEAD A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Earlier, we touched on the importance of hydrating regularly, meditating, eating healthy food and meditating. Having a healthy mind and body is essential if you want to remain productive. Getting sick or tired can lower your productivity.
You will spend much of the time in and out of the hospital. So, if you want to be productive, lead a healthy lifestyle.
Here is how.
Prepare healthy foods in your home. That is veggies, whole grains, and fruits. If you plan to eat out or order in, find a restaurant that caters healthy meals; however it does not mean that you should not spoil yourself with your favorite foods at least once a week.
Plan to workout regularly, for instance, every morning run, or cycle 5 miles or more. You can join a local gym or download a fitness app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Here are some extra ideas from my article on this website 9 Ways to Stick to Your Exercise Routine.
Don’t forget to drink water to keep you well hydrated, which will not only energize you but will improve your memory and concentration.
7. TAKE BREAKS FREQUENTLY
A lot of digital nomads strive to perform their best. As such, they often work overtime and even take on additional tasks making them not as effective as they could be.
Digital nomads who believe in the work hard mentality usually end up fatigued. Not only does this affect their productivity but it increases their stress levels or has a negative effect.
Chaining yourself to your laptop is not a good idea. To improve your living standard and re-charge, take breaks frequently. Taking a break prevents decision fatigue, restores your motivation, increases creativity, consolidates memories and enhances learning.
In a 2013 article titled “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime,” Ferris Jabr, summarizes the importance of taking a break as follows:
“Downtime replenishes the brain stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creatively and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.”
So, to be productive, take a 15 minute or 30-minute break after working for 1 ½ hour to 2 hours.
8. SPEND LESS TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram enable us to keep in touch with family members, friends, and colleagues. Also, they allow us to share news and connect with new clients and fellow digital nomads.
The problem is, social media can be distracting. How? A reduction in your productivity happens, for instance, when you are always checking your private account every minute for news and gossip.
To increase your productivity, spend less time browsing social media platforms. That is your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Don’t forget apps like Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.
Checking your email every time it notifies you of a new email can also be distracting decide to put a stop to it. Unless the email is related to your work and is extremely important, check your inbox every 8 to 12 hours.
Spending less time on social media helps you focus on your work.
9. BLOCK OUT DISTRACTIONS
Social media is not the only distraction for digital nomads; trying to work while being continuously interrupted by different sources increases the time to complete the task.
Based on research, it takes an average of 21 minutes to regain your focus after being distracted. According to a study carried out by Basex, interruptions and recovery time take 28% of a worker’s day.
When workers are routinely interrupted and fail to focus, they end up frustrated, stressed and pressured.
Here are ways to combat distractions.
- Kill all app notifications on your smartphone or tablet
- Put your smartphone on Do Not Disturb mode
- Put your smartphone or tablet away unless for work-related tasks
- Open only the necessary apps or programs
- Use noise canceling headphones
- Play white noise
- Clear computer and visual clutter
- Change your working environment
10. MEET NEW PEOPLE
Part of the adventure as a remote worker is meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.
Thanks to social media, it is easy to meet fellow digital nomads around the world. There are many Facebook Groups dedicated to connecting digital nomads. Other resources you can use include Twitter pages and LinkedIn.
These websites and social media platforms provide useful information on where to travel, the best accommodation, where to eat and shop. Also, they highlight meeting areas or co-working spaces for digital nomads in various countries. Check out my article on How to Explore a New City or Country which will give you some great ideas also for meeting people.
Using this information, not only can you network and build personal relationships but business relationships too. You can learn about emerging opportunities for digital nomads as well as make new friends.
By networking, not only do you eliminate the chances of social isolation and depression but you get to learn something new about another culture, language or country.
11. HAVE A GOOD NIGHT SLEEP
Like healthy food and working out, good night sleep is vital to your health.
Unfortunately, digital nomadism can interfere with your natural sleeping pattern. Due to differences in time zone, you may be forced to work all through the night or take a video meeting at 4 AM which could lead to you ending up sleeping much of the morning instead of sightseeing.
If you decide to sleep less to find time to work on your projects or to sightsee, your sleep quality will decrease. Did you know that man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep?
Sleep experts and doctors recommend 7 to 9 hours for a healthy night rest. So, how can you get a better night’s sleep?
- Sleep and get up the same time every day
- Do not sleep in
- Limit your naps to 15 minutes
- Spend more time outside
- Avoid watching TV and bright display screens 1 to 2 hours before bedtime
- Switch off all devices – smartphones, tablets, eReaders, and laptops
- Use a sleep mask
- Exercise during the day
- Avoid nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine twelve hours before bedtime
- Avoid big meals before bedtime
- Try relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises
12. MAKE A BUDGET
Having a budget is a better way of grasping money management. Not only are you able to know where your money is going each day, week and month but you will be in control of your finances. Also, you get to save for emergencies.
The trick to an efficiently budget is to identify how much is coming in. How much are you earning an income from your freelance projects? If your pay varies every month, find the average. Subtract all applicable deductions.
That includes taxes, 401(k), social security and others. What you will have is the net income.
Tracking your spending is another way of knowing what purchases you are making and where you might be able to cut back. When creating a budget, list all your expenses – fixed and variable. That includes rent, utilities, car payments, shopping, and others. You can find some great tips in this article on the website that I wrote specifically on this topic of Tracking Your Expenses.
To record your spending, use a paper and pen or a smartphone app.
Creating short and long term financial goals is essential. If you have financial goals, it will be a guide for you in critical decision moments when you’re between wanting to buy the latest gadget or saving to get ahead of next month’s expenses.
13. HAVE A PROPER WORKING SPACE
We can agree that digital nomads are ditching the traditional office for a mobile workspace. What will not change is the need for a proper working space.
A proper working space has a lot of benefits. For starters, it eliminates the need to spend time and money commuting. A suitable working space is a conducive environment to get projects done.
Before embarking on your travels, it is essential to create a mobile office space or have an idea in mind. That means, every time you relocate, you can also transfer your mobile office much more straightforward.
Working while lying on your bed or couch seems comfortable, but it will make you less productive. The reason is, it is easy for you to fall into a lazy or relax mode.
One benefit digital nomads have to work at a co-working space. A co-working space is an office suite well equipped with tools to help digital nomads complete their projects on time. Since a co-working space offers flexible working hours and has a laid back atmosphere, you can get more work done.
14. HAVE SOME “ME” TIME
Working at a co-working space or a coffee shop means being always surrounded by people. Yes, networking with like-minded people is great as you get to learn something new. The problem is, it can leave you fatigued.
When you take time off and treat yourself right, it trickles down to everything in your life, from your relationships to your work and fellow digital nomads.
There are tons of activities you can do during your “me” time. They include:
- Going to the park
- Visiting art galleries and museums
- Reading a book
- Treating yourself at the spa
- Trying a new yoga class
- Hiking in the woods
Taking some “me” time can leave you feeling guilty. Why? You are not working on your projects or spending time with your partner or family. What you need to know is that some me time is vital so, you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
15. DON’T BE UNDER PRESSURE TO TRAVEL ALL THE TIME
One of the main reasons why digital nomadism has become popular is the opportunity to travel. Digital nomadism enables freelancers to work, earn an income and travel. The problem is, going all the time is stressful.
Yes, traveling has many benefits, but it can lead to what experts refer to “travel stress or burnout” which is a feeling of mental strain and pressure brought about by frequent travel. Based on research, it can lead to a negative vacation experience.
Apart from pre-travel issues such as packing, finances and making arrangements, travel stress can be brought about by:
- Flight delays
- Traffic jams
- Weather conditions
- Conflict with travel companions
- Unrealistic expectations
- Safety concerns
To enjoy the benefits of travel and digital nomadism, travel less especially from city to city or country to country.
You don’t have to visit your top 10 favorite destinations at a rapid pace. Live in a city for a month or three. This allows you to learn more about the people, their lifestyle, culture, food, and language.
Remember, the life of a digital nomad is about you and your journey. Do not follow the ideas or expectations of others.
OVER TO YOU NOW!
Working and traveling as a digital nomad is exciting. What you ought to keep in mind is that challenges lay ahead. Preparing yourself in advance provides you with the tools and skills to solve these challenges. Also, when you arrive at a destination, connect with fellow digital nomads, take breaks, eat healthy, workout, have a good night sleep, make plans and travel but not often.
I’m the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I’m location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.