In one of our earlier articles on this blog, we defined the role of a digital nomad entrepreneur as a person who has their own business—typically an eCommerce store or a software service —and uses the income they make from work for traveling and exploring.
If you’re thinking of starting this lifestyle yourself, you might wonder: where’s the sense of balance? How do you find it? Balancing work and travel as a digital nomad entrepreneur means doing the following:
• Finding a means to shut off from work
• Using automation
• Focusing on your productivity
• Having a semi-reliable schedule
• Slowing down your traveling if need be
In this article, we’ll dive deep into explanations on the above five points so you can strive for better time management and energy management as you travel and explore in your life.
Balance Work and Travel
If you’ve sampled the digital nomad lifestyle for even a short time, then you know it centers around work, work, work. Yes, you get to travel, but there’s not always as much time to enjoy yourself as you wish. Whether an entrepreneur or in any other field of work, you must strive to have balance. Working too hard too often will drain you of energy for any other endeavors in your life.
That’s why, in this section, we’re expanding on the five tips we shared in the intro for a better work/travel balance. It is possible, but you’ll have to work hard at it. Here’s how.
Learn When to End Your Day – Complete Shut Down
As an entrepreneur, the last thing you ever want to do is turn away potential business. That’s why you work pretty much around the clock. You have goals for your startup business, and you’ll do anything to further them. You also have goals for your personal life, too, right? You’re part business owner, part explorer, but lately, it seems you’re all business owner. With no office to leave at the end of the day, you often work very early in the morning and late into the night. Weekends have become nonexistent to you.
That’s the first thing you need to change to create more balance in your life. You must know when to say enough is enough. Sometimes that means having to tell coworkers and even clients “no,” or at least “not right now.” It can seem terrifying at first because you’re afraid you’ll lose business. You might, but it’s either that or your sanity.
Remember, at the end of the day, you own the company. You’re the boss, which means there’s no one breathing down your neck. Don’t create undue pressure on yourself if you don’t have to.
Most businesses have well, business hours. They shut down after a while, and everyone goes home. You might think to outwork these people benefits you, but who are you working with exactly? No one. Worse yet, for your efforts, you end up with a nasty case of burnout.
Rely on Automation
We’ve written about it on this blog before: sometimes it’s hard to trust that the other employees you hired will do good work. That’s not necessarily a knock on their skills or anything. It’s just that you think no one can do the job better than you. Thus, you work yourself incredibly hard.
How about a happy medium? Automation can take some of that never-ending work off your plate without anyone else having to do so. You can program the software to do precisely what you need when you want it. It’s like another version of you there getting things done when you can’t be around.
For instance, you can use automation for updating your website, answering emails (through an email autoresponder), screening data, sorting contacts, sending emails to customers, and even taking your calls. Pretty handy, right?
What can’t technology do? We live in an incredible time with a lot of high tech. If some of that can make your life easier, then you should use it.
Sharpen Your Productivity Skills
There are only 24 hours in a day, and you probably spend eight or 12 (or more) of them working. Just how much do you milk each minute to its fullest potential, though? You can spend an hour in front of your computer and get nothing done because you’re constantly bombarded with calls, emails, and other distractions. Sure, you “worked” that hour, but you have nothing to show for it.
When you’re in business for yourself, each minute you work is more money earned. If you lose an hour over administrative tasks or distractions, that’s money you lose as well.
Tomorrow, when you get started with your workday, jot down how you organize your day. How long do you spend working versus doing administrative tasks like phone calls, emails, and meetings? What else takes up your day?
Once you know what’s monopolizing your time, you can begin reworking your hours, so they’re more fruitful. To this end, you might want to consider using productivity apps. Most of the time, these include automation, too, such as Zapier. Slack gives you the freedom to communicate with your employees no matter where your travels take you. If you need a more visual timeline of your tasks, then use Trello. Todoist can also help you knock off duties on your list one by one.
When you start spending your time more efficiently, you might find something surprising. You won’t have to work as many hours because the time you do put in matters.
Create and Follow a Semi-Reliable Schedule
Speaking of the time you put in, how many hours do you work a day? If it’s 12 hours one day and seven the next, that’s not great. Having a regular schedule where you work roughly the same hours each day keeps you at your most productive. You know what your daily to-do list entails and you’re not left scrambling or working late trying to get everything done. If someone surprises you with a sudden project, you can plan it out rather than panic.
Also, having a more regular schedule helps you balance other areas of your life. For instance, there’s mealtime. If you stop working at six p.m. one day and then eight p.m. the next, you might forget to eat dinner on that second day. That leaves you running on fumes, which isn’t exactly conducive to getting work done. When it comes to exercise, you have similar challenges. I wrote an article about this topic 9 Ways To Stick to Your Exercise Routine When You’re A Digital Nomad which will give you some tips to incorporate and stick to your exercise schedule.
We should also talk about your sleep. Waking up and going to bed at roughly the same time can improve the quality of your slumber, says this 2018 article in Verywell Health.
We all have a circadian rhythm that thrives best when you have a regular, predictable sleep schedule. If you stick to that schedule, you develop what’s called a sleep drive. It influences your body on when to wake up and when to go to sleep. If you fall asleep when your body wants you to, you’ll toss and turn less and experience the higher quality sleep we mentioned.
As a digital nomad entrepreneur, it may seem impossible to create such a schedule. Like anything, it’s a process and one that takes time. If you dedicate yourself to first getting your working hours under control, then your sleep and eating habits should follow.
Travel More Slowly and Savor the Experience
With your occupation, traveling as freely as you do comes across as a symbol of status. Your business is thriving so much that you can afford to go to three different countries in a month. While you might brag about this on social media, think about whether this frequent traveling helps or hinders you in the long run. For ideas on how to plan some adventure travel, check out my article The Cool Side of Adventure and the Digital Nomad Lifestyle for some great ideas on travel.
For instance, how much of these places do you get to see? When you spend three days at a destination, and you work for two and a half of them, you get only a glimpse of what any particular travel destination has to offer.
Also, you burn yourself out fast, both your energy and your wallet.
Instead of always rushing around, why not travel more slowly?
Visit two places a month and spend a few weeks in both. You still get to enjoy the travel component of your digital nomad lifestyle, but now there’s a lot more time for getting to know the place you’re visiting. You also save money on flights since you don’t book them as often. For some great ideas on travel and adventure in beach areas, you could for instance relax with some new beach sports. Check out my article 17 Adventures a Digital Nomad Can Have in Beach Areas.
As a digital nomad entrepreneur, you both travel and work a lot. Sometimes it seems like there’s no time to enjoy anything since you’re always on planes or sitting somewhere typing away on your laptop. You feel burnt out and tired. When you visit somewhere new, you’re always cooped up in the hotel.
With the five tips we offered in this article, you can begin spending the time you do have more wisely. Begin it now! After you have completed your work for the day, shut down; use technology to automate some tasks or even cut back on your responsibilities; become an expert in productivity; train yourself to follow a schedule you rely on; and finally you could lessen how often you travel, spending more time at the destinations you do visit.
Finally, to help you master the aspects of becoming a digital nomad entrepreneur, I wrote specifically about all the things you need to master and balance in my article The Effective Worker Side of the Digital Nomad Entrepreneur. Check it out for some great insight.
We hope this article helps you achieve the kind of work/travel balance you need in your own busy life. Good luck!
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.