By now, you probably understand the appeal of the digital nomad lifestyle. It allows for freedom of movement you can’t find in other 9-5 day jobs and complete and total dedication to your passions in life. On top of that, it allows you to see some of the most beautiful places in the world on your own terms, without the need to wait until you have compiled enough vacation days. Digital nomads are explorers, free spirits, and continuously seeking wanderlust.
Naturally, freedom is what seems to drive digital nomads. However, there does need to be some semblance of a schedule that allows a steady and balanced input and output of energy. Energy management is vital for the digital nomad, so they are productive without wearing themselves out. It also holds the digital nomad who struggles with time management accountable.
Although the lifestyle can be less strict than the usual, rigid job schedule, it requires some self-discipline. Overall, digital nomads must spend a large amount of their time cultivating and maintaining their energy levels as well as their mindset to get the work that pays done. This energy and mindset balance will promote focused work that challenges you, but does not entirely deplete you mentally and physically. It is all about that happy medium! If you have every wondered how you are progressing with you life as a digital nomad, I wrote an extensive article which may give you deeper understanding of where you currently are – The Ultimate Guide to Measuring Your Progress While Living the Digital Nomad Lifestyle – Check it out!
This article will provide you ten ways to impact your energy and mindset as a digital nomad dramatically. Get out your pen and paper and be prepared to take some notes to start living the digital nomad lifestyle of your dreams.
IMPROVE YOUR ENERGY LEVEL
Energy is fundamental for all your work as a digital nomad. The more energy you have, the more work you can get done, the more money you can make, the more that money can be reinvested into the things you love. It’s a virtuous cycle. There are a few simple, everyday ways you can improve your energy levels.
#1. Get Adequate Rest
It is essential to set your body on a regular sleep schedule, especially when you don’t have a 9-5 work schedule that requires you to clock in and clock out naturally. The benefit to these day job schedules is that they usually help your body adjust to a consistent wake-up time and bedtime. If you make your own daily schedule, you’ll have to make your own sleep schedule as well. Aim for around 8 hours of sleep per night and try to get up at the same time each morning as it helps you get your day moving, starting with a solid morning routine, even though it might be tempting to continue sleeping. Not to mention, your body and mind will thank you for the plenty of rest you’re giving it.
#2. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet and Drink Lots of Water
A healthy lifestyle starts with healthy nutrition habits. The cleaner you eat, the happier your body will be. Try to cut out processed foods. Although they are often quick and convenient, allowing more time for work, they can create those brain fogs from too many refined carbs and sugars. Aim to eat whole, nutritious foods and keep your plate colorful. Also, make sure you are drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day. Believe it or not, your diet has a massive impact on your energy levels. Your mind will be clearer, and you’ll have plenty of energy to get your workload completed each day.
With that same token, make sure you are eating three tasty meals a day. Sometimes, work mode causes us to be forgetful of taking breaks to eat whole meals throughout the day. Even though you feel like you may be on a roll, make sure you are stopping to refuel your mind and body. Long-term, depriving yourself of food in an attempt to get more work done will be counterproductive, as your energy levels will deplete and you’ll soon be left with no energy and that burn-out feeling. When you are burnt-out, it becomes harder to get back on track. Again, these factors all play into each other, so make sure you are finding that happy medium between hard work and adequate meal breaks to maintain level energy throughout the day.
KEEPING EXERCISE IN YOUR DAILY SCHEDULE
Exercise is not only great for physical fitness, but for mental clarity and time management as well. The more physically fit you are, again, the more energy you will have to knock those things off your to-do list. Exercise also increases your endorphin levels, which helps you feel excited and positive.
This positivity helps maintain your positive mental health and growth mindset. Exercising every day has been shown to increase energy levels, even though you are expending energy in the process. If you are stagnant all day, you are going to feel sluggish and foggy mentally and physically. Here are some easy ways to incorporate exercise into your schedule, and the benefits of these exercises. In my article 9 Ways To Stick to Your Exercise Routine When You’re A Digital Nomad I outline some solid tips to help you install and keep exercise in your life.
#3. Local Gym Memberships
These days, gyms are easy to find, and memberships with other perks like tanning and massages are getting more and more inexpensive. If you are a fan of fitness, having access to a gym is a great way to escape from your workspace and get a little “you-time.” Most gyms have a combination of free weights, machines, and cardio equipment, which makes them great one-stop shops for your fitness journey. Seek out a gym or wellness facility near you and consider purchasing a membership. It is a significant long-term investment and can help break up your day.
Scheduling in time to work out can help you be more productive as it automatically forces you to structure your day around that time. Sometimes, if you have an abundance of time on your hands with nothing scheduled, you will waste that time because nothing is pushing you to get your work done. Try to plan a gym outing at the same time each day similar to the way you might schedule your sleep. Again, it’s essential to have these touch points to structure your day.
#4. Outdoor Exercise or Home Workouts with Workout Apps
If you cannot find access to a gym, consider doing quick workouts outside. What’s better than working out on the beach or overlooking a rainforest? Wherever your remote location is, chances are it’s lovely. If you can combine some views into your workout, you might be just a little more excited to do it each day.
Another great tool is a workout app for your phone. It’s easier than ever to find apps for just about any workout you are looking for, especially when you have a lack of access to equipment. One of my favorite apps is Aaptiv. You can download it on Apple or Android phones, and you get your first 15 days free. From there, it is about 15 dollars a month, (about the same amount or less than you’d pay for a gym membership) and has workouts for all fitness levels and workout types.
You can set filters if you are a beginner, intermediate, and advanced athlete. The bodyweight workouts are especially significant because they are usually no longer than 45 minutes and require little to no equipment. You can also schedule in reminders within the app which set alarms to work out so you can hold yourself accountable.
These apps are great for digital nomads who might struggle with structuring their day and staying organized. They are easy to use and leave you with no excuses not to work out through the scheduling functions and professional guidance from trainers in your ear!
#5. Joining a Local Sports Team or League
If you are a sports fanatic, you know the power of a little competitive energy. Consider finding a local sports league to join. Having regular practices and games to attend each week, is excellent for that automatic structuring, which helps with time management and stress relief. They are great outlets to have as an escape from your workspace and something to look forward to each week. Healthy competition is great for releasing endorphins and encouraging healthy movement if you are stuck behind a computer most of your day, and running and sweating off the tension that can build in your workday feels good.
Not to mention, these leagues are fantastic if you are looking to make friends in a new city. Part of the challenge of being a digital nomad is feeling alone and finding new people to befriend and be with to have adventures together. These leagues will help you stay social, which is vital to maintain a positive mindset and enables you to find new friends to go out within different settings as well. They may even help you travel around your new city as you play teams from different regions.
ENERGY FOR TIME MANAGEMENT
It is so essential to maintain your energy levels to create a sound work output. However, it is equally as important to recognize when you are emotionally and physically drained, and take steps to help yourself get back on track. The digital nomad lifestyle requires a fair amount of balance, which comes with good self-awareness. If you can recognize signs of your mind or body depleting energy, you will be better equipped to deal with these issues in the future without it affecting your workload or setting you back from goals and essential deadlines.
Maintaining energy levels is all about balance. If you haven’t already noticed, if there is one word we can’t emphasize enough in this article for the best possible digital nomad lifestyle, it is balance.
Energy management is vital to stay positive and stay on top of your workload with some excitement. To remain balanced, you need to be able to do some introspection and periodic check-ins with yourself. Make sure you are stopping to take time to ask yourself how you are feeling. Are you drained? Are you bored? Are you still feeling passionate about your work every day? Here are some great ways to incorporate those checkpoints in your life.
#6. Balance of Work and Play or Work and Rest
Sometimes, the best thing to do to cure a lull in workload is taking a little vacation, even a few days off from work to travel your city, to veg out on the beach, or do some sightseeing if those are things that recharge you and relax you. If these ideas frazzle you, then you might honestly need to let your body fully rest. Sleep in a few days, go off the grid in a way that won’t be detrimental to your income. Have a movie marathon and eat your favorite snacks. Although a consistently healthy lifestyle is essential, we are only human. Treating yourself in moderation is excellent for you, and can help you hit the metaphorical “re-set” button.
Also, make some time for a little play! If you can honestly say, you are working hard most of the time, treating yourself with a fun night out on the town with friends is fantastic. If you are a nature fanatic, maybe your form of “play” is not partying but going on a beautiful, long hike. If you are an adrenaline junkie, perhaps you go skydiving or paragliding. Take the time to introspect and find what your most ideal version of “play” would be, and make sure you are scheduling in time for yourself each week. Again, everything in moderation, but having touchpoints to break up your week and recharge your batteries are fundamental aspects of the digital nomad lifestyle.
#7. Meditation and Self-Care
I think when people think about meditation, they become very overwhelmed because they do not know where to start. It doesn’t require mastery by any means and can be something simple to implement in small chunks in your daily routine. Essentially, it is just the practice of deep breathing and clearing your thoughts. If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, you might consider stopping at that moment and shutting off for a bit. There are, again, great apps for Apple and Android, which guide in the practice of deep breathing if you feel unsure of where to start. There are exercises for moments of extreme stress, daily practice, and to promote a good night’s sleep.
One app that provides a free trial to start is the “Calm” app. Not only can meditation clear your thoughts but it can also give a boost of energy if you are in a mid-day slump, as well as help you visualize and get the motivation to execute any goals you might have. It is worth trying especially because you only really need to do it for a few minutes at a time for as many or as little days as you want. There is no one size fits all for this tool. Another great way to recharge your batteries!
Meditation and the general idea of self-care, which can be different for different people, and again will require a little bit of introspection. However, self-care is vitally important as a digital nomad, especially if you are always thinking about work. It is particularly true for digital nomads who make their life’s passion for their work, so it becomes difficult to compartmentalize. Sometimes, passions and work altogether need to be set aside so the digital nomad can, be.
Self-care promotes a sense of comfort and ease and places importance on being present. It just helps take the mind off anything stressful and keeps focus on something fun and light-hearted, often relaxing. An example of self-care might be going to get your hair or nails done, getting a massage, yoga, watching your favorite movie, dancing to your favorite music, etc. It really can be anything that would be considered healthy activity, and that helps you feel relaxed.
The best part about the digital nomad lifestyle, especially if you have a stable currency in a country with a weaker currency is that you can get more bang for your buck. Treating yourself to a massage in Thailand, for example, will likely be much more affordable than treating yourself every week in the United States.
Like everything we’ve mentioned prior, treating yourself to a self-care activity is best in moderation, so it does not lose its charm, and so it helps improve productivity levels instead of becoming a work distraction. For some additional ideas on energy and keeping your energy levels high, check out my article Digital Nomad Lifestyle – A Guide to Managing Your Energy which covers a lot of ground on this topic.
#8. Time Management with Planners
Planners and other organization tools are great for helping manifest your thoughts and jot down ideas you need to see through. Time management, as previously mentioned, is a critical component in energy management. Visually understanding where you are devoting your time to each day can help you visualize what must get completed. You can also begin to assess what you are prioritizing each day. Sometimes, a lack of balance comes from a lack of reality. We might not be able to understand something we literally can’t see. If you notice your days solely consist of work and you are leaving no time for self-care, do something about this!
Sometimes, the joy of planners, calendars, and to-do lists come from crossing off tasks and feeling the productivity that comes with the completion of a job. You can reduce the problem of over-working yourself by putting fun tasks on your to-do lists. If your motivation comes from the sense of completion, force yourself to cross things off your list that isn’t work-related. It might seem silly at first, but like anything else, good habits take time to develop. Eventually, penciling in breaks or self-care activities into your schedule will become routine and help you look at these activities as just as necessary as your workload. It only takes a small shift in perspective.
FOCUS ON MINDSET
When you spend a lot of time alone, as digital nomads often do, it can get a bit lonely! There is nothing wrong with this and no reason to feel ashamed for feeling this way now and then. However, before you commit to the digital nomad lifestyle, you should do your due diligence when it comes to preparing yourself mentally for the occasional rough patch. The best way to do this is to focus on your mindset and to wake up each day, choosing to look at the positives. When you can start with the right attitude, you’ll learn not to sweat the small stuff. There are different ways you can cultivate this mindset. Here are a few:
#9. Choose a Growth Mindset
One of the trends in the psychology and personal growth field is the topic of the growth mindset. The definitive work on this is by Carol Dweck, who came to recognize that many people’s approach to life can be either with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
The fixed mindset approach thinks that there is only one way to do things and that if someone is good at something it is because they have a natural talent. Having a fixed mindset may lead people who have early success to burn out or become dejected when situations change, and the way they have done things previously does not work anymore.
The growth mindset, on the other hand, promotes the idea that learning, training, and trying different angles and approaches to problems are essential to building skills for and also healthy for the person. People who have a growth mindset find the courage a little easier try again, knowing that this is normal and that with extra training and insight to try a different way, in the long run, they will be successful at doing well in a situation or circumstance.
I’ve used the growth mindset a lot in my career (even before I knew it was a growth mindset!) and also my hobbies, and it has significantly helped in many areas. The value for digital nomads, for instance, and especially digital nomads building a startup company, is that there is so much to learn, and the pressure can be extremely high- there can be many setbacks. Succeeding means continuing in the lifestyle or having to go back home and re-group until your finances are again adequate.
A growth mindset can give the digital nomad the confidence to try again and get better, and be positive while going through the startup phases of entrepreneurship. It can also help with dealing with different cultures and the problems that pop up because things are entirely different from your usual way of doing things or solving problems. Give this a try, and I’m sure you will start to see the difference in your approach, confidence, and attitude. If you want to read more about mindset, I wrote an article Digital Nomad Mindsets to Impact Your Work, Travel and Life Balance which covers mindset in greater detail, all within the scope of a digital nomad life.
Choosing the growth mindset is not always linear, meaning you are not going to continue to get more and more successful at a steady rate. There will be moments where your workload or quality of work takes a bit of a dive, there will be days when you are soaring, and there will be moments when you feel stuck at a plateau. Regardless of the journey, it is helpful to keep a growth mindset when getting accustomed to the digital nomad lifestyle. If you can focus on how far you’ve come in your journey instead of how far you still must go, you will be much more inclined to keep pushing yourself.
#10. Daily Tracking Using Bullet Point Journaling
A great way to keep a hold on your mental health status and your general mindset when it comes to energy management is journaling. Sometimes, remembering to set aside time to journal every day is hard to do, or it might seem outdated with all the access to our technologies.
However, studies have shown that physically writing your thoughts down is beneficial in that it provides a sense of release of pent up energies. You can go back and easily read your thoughts day to day or week to week (depending on how often you should choose to do this), and this will help you track your growth. It is an excellent tool to lean on during tough times, if you feel like you have decreased in productivity or if you are at a standstill in your week. Being able to read back and see how far you have come since you started might be what you need to get back on track and get back to a positive mindset.
If you don’t like the idea of writing a full page in your journal each day, try bullet journaling, which is quick and effective at getting the overall themes of each workday as a digital nomad, what went well, what didn’t go well, what goals you are setting, etc. Like any of the other tools we’ve shared, they can be modified based on how much you know you can or can’t commit.
STAYING POSITIVE EVEN IN A STORM
Staying positive even in a storm goes hand in hand with the growth mindset. It seems like an easy, no-brainer tip, but it does require some practice and self-discipline. If you can keep a positive, growth mindset even when you feel like giving up, your chances at success are far greater than the digital nomad who throws in the towel when the going gets tough. Most often, the best things in life- whether that be personal happiness, financial success, or even little wins- are on the other side of severe, perhaps fearsome moments.
Hopefully, you can incorporate some or all of the tools we have provided in this article to impact your energy and mindset as a digital nomad dramatically. These tools will help you stay the course of the sometimes-tricky digital nomad lifestyle so you can fully reap the plethora of benefits it does offer. Like anything good though, it requires patience, hard work, and a balanced mindset because if it were easy, then everyone would be doing it!
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.