It’s not as easy as it’s cracked up to be. Sure you’ve let your imagination run wild and have had your fantasies.
What it would mean to be a digital nomad and fully working on the road.
You’ve no doubt imagined the freedom. You’ve no doubt imagined the places you’ll see and the people you’ll meet. And you’ve no doubt imagined how much more rewarding your life would be.
But what you might not imagine is how you’ll actually get work done. You know, the work you’re required to do in order to fund your nomadic life style.
By using these 5 hacks, you too can live a fulfilled and productive life as a digital nomad.
Find an Optimal Working Environment
Close your eyes for a second and imagine the lifestyle of a digital nomad.
Perhaps you’re picturing the sun in your face, the sand beneath your toes, and a blue ocean just over the cover of your laptop.
Or maybe you’re picturing yourself working remotely in a sparsely populated section in Kenya as wild life and big game surrounds your jeep.
It almost sounds too good to be true. Doesn’t it?
The truth is, while some of us can do this and become productive, a majority of us cannot. We still need an environment that is more conducive to work.
In a recent interview in Forbes, Ally Basak Russell, a digital nomad working for Upwork (formerly oDesk) describes how she works:
I’m a digital nomad with a full-time job for a company that moved me to London, so that’s my temporary base. When I’m in London, I work at TechHub, a coworking space within Google Campus. London has a fast-growing tech startup ecosystem and is also a great jumping-off point for travel to other European tech hubs like Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, and Dublin. Whenever possible, I work from accelerators and coworking spaces. They usually have reliable Internet and printing facilities, and it’s fun to learn about nuances between cities by chatting with the resident entrepreneurs. Best of all, local founders can tell you where to get the city’s best (and cheapest) cup of local coffee.
Of course, Ally still finds time to explore and “learn the nuances” of the cities that she’s working in at that time.
Carry the Right Tools
Chances are, you’ve got your smart phone. You’ve got your laptop. And you have an app telling you where all the cool spots are in the city you’re currently visiting.
So what else do you need?
We found a few essentials that might help you increase your productivity.
- A membership with Regus:
Your membership with Regus will allow you to use their offices in 750 cities in 100 countries. This gives you access to their meeting rooms and conferencing equipment along with other amenities.
Ever run out of batteries on a device at the absolute wrong time? I know I have. Usually it’s when I have to respond to a critical email or respond to an important phone call. However, with Mophie, we can extend the battery life on almost any of our devices while on the go.
These guys have perfected travel clothing. I can promise you that you’ll never run out of pockets. Check out the vest in the image below. On the left is a men’s vest made by Scottevest. On the right is an X-ray image of the same vest holding a host of devices and supplies (including a bottle of water and a pair of sunglasses).
- Laptop with Sim Card Add-on
Unfortunately, not all Wi-Fi is created equal. Depending on the city you’re living in, or the tropical island you’re habituating, your signal strength will vary.
In most instances, in order to be a productive worker, you’ll need an optimized internet connection. Having a sim card directly inserted into your laptop will allow you to have a reliable internet connection no matter where you decide to set up shop.
Work When You Work Best
It’s what digital nomads crave. Instead of being tethered to a desk between the hours of 9-5, we tend to enjoy the freedom to work when we want and where we want.
However, we all have our productive moments.
As Dan Andrews of Tropical MBA fame describes in a recent TheNextWeb article:
My schedule revolves around preserving my creative time. I generally wake up around 8:00 and work to 11:00 or noon on creative stuff, then I’ll head out for lunch with friends or while listening to an audio book. I spend a lot of time walking around, listening to books, and meeting friends at cafes.
Early afternoons are for paperwork, email, and phone calls. In the evenings I’ll take a run and do some exercise and meet with friends for dinner and drinks. About every three weeks I get the itch to take a trip somewhere and end up wondering around for a few weeks with a wacky schedule.
When you’re working throughout the day, take note of the times that you’re most productive. It can be early morning, late at night, or some time in between.
Make sure that you schedule the time that you work around your personal productivity. That will ensure that you maximize your output while giving you a chance to explore and meet new people.
Hang Out a While
When you get to a location, don’t immediately plan your exit. Instead, plan to stay a while and enjoy the moment. You’ll always be able to get to that next place that is supposed to be “perfect”, but sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Besides that, staying in one place for a while allows you to get engrained in the culture of the location, and not just scratch the tip of the iceberg.
Staying in one place will allow you to become more productive.
Seasoned travelers and nomads will tell you that it takes at least two weeks to begin to adjust to a new location. You need to find stores, amenities, places to eat, and adjust to the local culture. None of which can happen overnight.
Staying in one place for a while will also be cheaper. You will cut down on travel expenses and your options for finding a place to sleep increase the longer you plan to stay.
Most long term travelers don’t stay in hotels. Instead, they explore other options.
Or they use sites like hostelworld.com to find and book hostels across the globe – many of which can be had for just $5 a night.
It’s easy to become distracted.
This is especially true if you’ve been working in a traditional 9-5 job or in an office or cube farm for the majority of your career. Your new found freedom can become overwhelming at first.
The way to combat this is by ruthlessly sticking to a routine that you build around your most productive times.
This doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Even just a 30 minute routine in the morning can help you get your mind right, help you eliminate distractions, and help you get more work done.
For instance, every morning I do the same 5 things after I wake up:
- Brush my teeth
- Drink a glass of water
- Eat a healthy breakfast (usually oatmeal)
- Take a 20 minute walk
- 2 cups of coffee
And then I’m ready to go. The entire routine takes me about 35 minutes, but if I miss one of those steps, my day won’t be nearly as productive as it could have been.
Give it a shot and see what works for you.
Being a digital nomad comes with a certain element of freedom that most of the world will never know.
You get to work when and where you want.
You get to see exotic places and meet interesting people.
But in order for this to happen, you need to have a certain measure of productivity. It can’t be all fun and games. So take the 5 hacks for working on the road listed above and increase your productivity while continuing to live the life you love.
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