Being a digital nomad is not a stress-free life as many think it is. There are drawbacks to this kind of lifestyle just like there are in any lifestyle. You forego the stability of a nine to five job, find it hard to develop a routine, subject your body under stress during travel, and let’s not forget to mention that dating can be a challenge when you’re always moving.
It is hard to stay focus and stay on top of your job when you are a digital nomad. It takes a strong will to keep on schedule when it comes to your work. The flexibility of being a digital nomad can also overwhelm you especially when you have a lot of options right in front of you. These are just some examples of the daily struggles a digital nomad face in their work life.
To be able to maximize their time, digital nomads have developed ways on how they can cope with the struggles as mentioned earlier. Read on to find out.
1. BEING ORGANIZED
A well-organized workspace can significantly affect your productivity. You’ll spend less time looking for files and gain more opportunities to work on many vital tasks. If you are working with a team, this can aid you in a better flow of information within your group, thus, increasing your productivity and gaining better results.
Staying organized can also help in reducing you and your team’s stress level and allow a better working environment and a healthier working relationship not just with your team but also with your employer.
Technology has helped us in this aspect because of the many productivity apps available in the market. Below is a list of some of the popular ones you can download:
- Trello – is a project management app that allows you to organize your projects into different boards.
- Asana – is mostly used by digital nomads who are working on the same project. It can also serve as a project management tool due to its project tracking feature.
- Slack – an instant messenger widely used by remote teams to keep track of work conversations and files. Integration with Skype, Hangout, and Dropbox possible
- Evernote – An application for storing documents and information across multiple devices. A great feature of this tool is what they call “Scannable.” It allows you to capture high-quality rendering of docs in your computer or phone.
- World Time Buddy – is a tool that helps digital nomads in scheduling online meetings with their team. It also can convert timezones and be your world-time clock.
- Google Drive – is an online file sharing tool that automatically saves your work and allows you and your team to work on the same document at the same time.
2. INSTANT MOBILE OFFICE
No matter where you are, an office or workspace can help in setting your mind in a productive working state. It can be a small table in your room or maybe a corner inside your tent if you’re camping, it can also be in the garage of your friend’s house. It doesn’t matter where it is just as long as you have a working space that works for you.
Doing this can really help you focus on your project and help you finish those tasks that you’ve assigned to yourself.
3. OWN THE RIGHT TOOLS AND GADGETS
Owning the correct tools means that you can perform your job more efficiently. Most digital nomads have the following:
- Laptop – Invest in one that runs fast and contains all the of the essential programs you need for your job. Remember that this will be your money making tool so be sure that you have a good working one that can keep up with the type of work you do.
- Tablet – A useful device in itself but also as a back-up plan for when your laptop fails to work, and it is easy to take on trips. Choose one that has internet capabilities or is Wi-Fi ready. This way, you get the most out of your gadget and still make money without your bulky laptop.
- Phone – One that has internet capability and can serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot should be your choice. There will be times when Wi-Fi’s are down especially if you’re in a third world country.
- Headphones – If your projects require you to make a lot of calls then a noise canceling headphones should be your choice; otherwise, you can use the ones that come with your phone if it will be just for talking with your team.
4. DETERMINE WHEN YOU ARE MOST PRODUCTIVE
It is hard to develop and get into a routine when you are a digital nomad. It is also hard to know the times when your mind is working. Take stock of the times when you have delivered your jobs effectively and when you can do more. Study the reason behind this and determine why you are most productive during that time.
Is it because it is the time of the day when you’ve finished all your house chores, or maybe it’s because you just finished your workout routine and you are riding your endorphin high. Try to mimic those reasons so that you reach that same mindset where you are the most productive.
5. LIST YOUR TASKS
The reason why this is effective is that this makes your tasks more real. Rather than keeping it all inside your head and risking the possibility of forgetting, list it down on a piece of paper; if you are old-fashioned or use the notes features of your phone. You can also use one of the previously mentioned productivity apps to help you on this one.
The act of listing your tasks down creates something in your brain that makes you commit to what you have put down on the list.
6. MAKE A WORK SCHEDULE
After you’ve jotted down the tasks needed, you can then start scheduling those tasks according to priority. Use project management apps if needed, your phone calendar can work too.
Keep to your schedule as much as you can to save you from cramming in the future. If you’ve missed a workday, make sure that you compensate for it so that you meet your deadlines. Avoid procrastinating as much as possible. Once you’ve scheduled your tasks, you should commit to seeing all of them through the end.
7. PLAN YOU TRAVEL ITINERARY
Your work schedule should be your priority, but this does not mean that you don’t get to have fun. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. To have a balanced work/life schedule, you should make sure that you plan your travel too.
Travel to destinations that you’ve never been before. Appreciate the different cultures you encounter by including historical tours and night out with friends in your travel itinerary. Several countries are great for digital nomads. You can start from there.
You can work your travel plans and travel itineraries around your work schedule, this way you’ll have plenty of time for play without sacrificing your deadlines.
8. JOIN COMMUNITIES AND SUPPORT TEAMS
Joining communities can significantly help you in so many ways. You will be able to network and meet fellow digital nomads that you can learn tips and exchange ideas.
Digital nomad communities allow you to realize that you are not alone in dealing with the struggles you might be having. They can also become your support team, your accountability partner and of course a possible source for your next gig.
Don’t forget to ask your fellow nomads for little nuggets of information for your next travel. Who knows, you might find a team that can become your travel buddies.
9. BE RESPONSIBLE
Being responsible can be tough for digital nomads. There are so many choices for them to choose from that they get side-tracked sometimes.
For digital nomads being responsible means that they have to stick to their schedule, finish their tasks, deliver on time and stay focused, all of these done while traveling and exploring other parts of the world. Can you imagine how much sense of responsibility a digital nomad needs to have for them to stay on top of their game?
10. INVEST IN INSURANCE
The importance of having insurance cannot be stressed enough. As a digital nomad, you should own health insurance, accident insurance and of course travel insurance.
The health of a digital nomad is under stress especially during travels, owning health insurance can stave off some of the costs during illness or hospitalization. The same applies to accident insurance, and this will be a lifesaver if you ever get involved in an accident.
Life of a digital nomad sometimes involved a lot of travel. Invest in travel insurance so that your medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost baggage, flight accident and other forms of loss acquired in transit, both domestic and abroad are covered.
11. LESS IS MORE
Owning less stuff is something that a digital nomad learns from traveling a lot. When you’re a digital nomad, you tend to stay in a place for only a couple months. Then you get that itch once more, and before you know it, you are packing your bags again.
It is best to keep your belongings to a bare minimum. You will have less to pack and more time to travel. One suitcase of belongings should be your target. If you can manage this then, you will have no problem with excess baggage.
12. KNOW WHEN TO REST
A body has its limits and can shut down on you when you don’t maintain the right levels of rest. It can be hard to adhere to a routine when you are a digital nomad, but this does not mean that you can forego resting.
Your sleep is something that should not be compromised not only because of your job but more importantly because of your health. Getting enough sleep lets your mind relax and helps you perform at your best during work.
If you feel a bit drained, power naps can be a source of a much-needed downtime during the middle of the day. A 20-minute nap can do wonders to your brain functions and increase productivity. Delve in some yoga and meditation if you want to try something different.
It is well known the fact that exercise produces a hormone in your body called endorphins. These hormones are what doctors call “happy hormones” because it makes people feel good and alive.
Include an exercise routine in your schedule to promote the production of this “happy hormone.” Yoga can help in strengthening both your body and mind and running can be very therapeutic; any workout will do. A happy worker equals a productive worker.
14. FREE ACCOMMODATIONS
Yes, you read it right. There is a thing called free accommodation for digital nomads to access. The first one is what is most commonly known as couch surfing, where you plan to visit a place owned by friends or relatives who can accommodate you during your stay.
The second one is called housesitting. This one involves becoming a caretaker of a house while the owners are away. You stay in the house of your housesitting employer and perform all household chores. It can also mean that you have to take care of their pets if they have some. There are also instances when a car is there for you to use.
15. CONTINUOUSLY LEARN
Being complacent with the skills you already have is easy. You have regular employers already in your repertoire, your portfolio looks good, and you are earning enough to fund your trips and tours. It does not mean that you have to stop developing your skills further. It’s the perfect time for you to look for more ways on how you can improve yourself and your abilities.
Online academies are offering a lot of classes for digital nomads. You can enroll in one of them and continue your journey. It is never a good idea to stop learning especially for digital nomads since technology plays a vital role in performing their jobs. There are free courses available if you are not yet ready for a paid one.
Here is a list of the most popular online academies in no particular order:
- Coursera – It has both free and paid classes from which to choose. There are “specialization” classes offered too. They have partnered with universities in the US and also around the globe to provide online courses that are either free or are very affordable.
- Lynda.com – This is one of the longest running online academies out there, and it’s a great learning site for visual learners because of its wide array of video tutorial content. It works very similar to a paid online video subscription app (think Netflix)
- Udemy – This one is gaining a lot of popularity lately because of the constant addition of an average of 800 new courses each month. However, this can probably set you back around $10 up to $500 depending on the type of course you take.
- Skillshare – You can think of this as similar to Facebook Marketplace, but instead of items on display, they are showing new skills. What’s lovely about this is that it has online classes and also in-person ones.
- Khan Academy – is an online library for your academic subjects. You have the option to choose between videos and text-based materials. Perfect for those who are still trying to determine which field in the industry they want to explore. The best part of this one is that everything is free.
- Codecademy – Thinking about learning how to code? Head over to this online academy. Formerly backed up by the White House, this academy offers a “learn-at-your-own-pace” style of teaching while still encouraging pupils to master their skills faster with interactive games. All courses are free.
Remember that getting better means getting the jobs faster, so keep learning and never stop. You might discover a different set of skills you are willing to explore as you learn.
Now you are armed with the knowledge from this article. It is time for you to decide on the ones that you are willing to give a try. You can start small and then maybe as you master each way, you can add more. These fifteen ways are just the start. Your journey as a digital nomad will take you to face many challenges and tests. In overcoming those challenges, you will discover other effective ways of using your time that works for you. The important thing is that you stick to the ones that you are comfortable with, aids you in increasing your productivity and truly help you effectively use your time.
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.