How to Stay Productive as a Digital Nomad

Not everyone is built for the traditional 9 to 5. Some people dread the prospect of commuting daily to work in an office with the same things to see and the same people to hobnob with. If those statements resonate with you, chances are you are suited for the digital nomad lifestyle.

There are many perks to that way of life. For starters, you get to finally ditch your office-based and schedule-dependent work and hustle to travel instead. You will have the chance to see the world’s most beautiful places and meet interesting people from different walks of life. While those are probably enough to convince you to pack your bags and bid your colleagues adieu, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First, let’s discuss how you can ensure utmost work productivity while on the road. After all, you do not want to run out of funds while you’re in the middle of nowhere, far from your most reliable support systems. Here are our recommendations.  

Go slow and steady

Ideally, you go for long-term travel. The digital nomad lifestyle is not meant for those traveling for three months or less. Such a limited timeframe will pressure you to squeeze in many sights and activities within a few days so you can hop on the midnight train or red-eye flight to your next destination the soonest time possible. That won’t give you time and energy to work, and your funds will run out fast.

Meanwhile, if you go slow and steady, staying in one place for a couple of weeks or more, you’ll get to settle down enough to allow you to focus on work while sightseeing in between tasks. That means you’ll earn funds to sustain your travel. And your travel nest egg stays intact for emergency expenses.

Pick accommodations with work-conducive spaces

If you have a lucrative job, you can probably rent a small seaside villa. Finding a work-conducive spot won’t be much of a concern. However, if you’re sticking on a shoestring budget, your options will be limited to homestays and beds in hostel rooms you share with as many as 18 travelers. 

With the latter arrangement, at least choose an accommodation with a common area that’s conducive to work. That means spaces with available electrical outlets, comfy tables and chairs, and access to reliable internet. 

Find a co-working space

If you’re the type who likes working in coffee shops with ambient noise and non-distracting activities in the background, a co-working space suits you well. These businesses have sprouted across cities in recent years. It won’t be difficult to find one in your current location that’s up to your standards and budget. 

In a co-working space, you’re assured of a work table and a chair, plus other perks such as free snacks and beverages. Your Wi-Fi connection will be topnotch and come with your membership or day fee.  

Establish a routine

Just because you’re a digital nomad does not mean you can allow your circadian biological clock to go into disarray. You can make the most of the lifestyle while still following a routine. And it’s best to follow a routine if you want to get work done. 

Design a schedule that suits you best. Start your day with an hour of yoga and meditation. Follow that with breakfast. Shortly after, accomplish your deliverables with a cup of tea or coffee. The other half of the day you can spend sightseeing. Or you can devote specific days of the week to work and the remaining ones for recreation. Whichever routine you choose, make it a habit.

Make writing to-do lists a habit

Another habit you must take to heart is writing the tasks you need to get done. You can jot down monthly, weekly, or daily to-do lists. These lists will allow you to properly anticipate your schedule. You may use time and task management apps such as Trello, FreeAgent, and Asana for better tracking.

As for conquering your to-dos, try out different methods. For one, you may want to deconstruct tasks into smaller and more manageable segments. That way, you’re not intimidated and stalled by the anxiety of getting started. Or you can go the opposite route and take on the most challenging task first. The rest will be easy-peasy.

Get reliable gadgets

As a digital nomad, you rely on technology to fund your lifestyle. That means you cannot cut corners when it comes to gadgets. For example, while a MacBook costs more than other laptop brands, you know you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Keep in mind that MacBooks are used in many industries and by all types of professionals. Whether you’re a writer or a graphic designer, an Apple computer’s your best bet. 

Aside from a reliable laptop, you also need an equally reliable phone for mobile connectivity. Other gadgets to consider include a power bank, noise-canceling headphones, and a portable internet device.

Research your current location’s best internet provider

Speaking of portable internet devices, there’ll come a time when you’ll be enticed by some random traveler you chat with at a bar to check out a remote place where you’ll be hard-pressed to find accommodation or cafes with Wi-Fi. That’s where a portable internet device comes in.

Get one from the best internet provider in whichever city or country you’re in. Research online and ask the locals for leads. That way, your work won’t be interrupted even while you’re in paradise. 

Ensure you have a travel/health insurance

The last thing you want to happen while traveling long-term is to get sick or find yourself in an accident. That will derail your plans and delay your work. Plus, if you do not have travel or health insurance, you’ll be tapping into your travel nest egg. That could mean shortened adventures on the road. 

For your peace of mind, purchase travel and health insurance before you leave your hometown or country of origin. Do not risk it.

Keep up to date with tax requirements

This is another essential you need to get in order before your long-haul travel. You can hire an accountant on a retainer’s basis to file taxes on your behalf. Choose paperless transactions to avoid the hassle and cost of mailing documents across continents.

For official tax correspondences, you can assign a dedicated virtual mailbox. For documents, you can opt-in for e-signatures. Discuss with your accountant the options at your disposal. Before you leave, ask for relevant tax-related schedules and set reminders. While on the road, stay in contact with your accountant so you’re updated on all the nitty-gritty.

Make the most of your downtimes

You won’t be up and about all the time. Maximize your idle hours by getting some work done while you’re at the airport or train station waiting for your next transport. Even if there’s no free Wi-Fi or you have no portable internet device, surely there are some aspects of your job you can do offline. Squeeze those into your downtimes.

That helps you catch up with any backlogs or lets you cross off items in your to-do lists in advance. Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll have more time for gallivanting.

Experience as much of your current location as you can

You need inspiration for work. Even if your job falls outside the creative field, you can make use of beautiful and soul-stirring things. Also, you became a digital nomad to achieve your ideal work-life balance. So, learn how to compartmentalize. Outside your allotted schedule for work, explore as much of your current location as you can and forget about money.

Meet the locals. Try out their dishes. Visit museums. Volunteer for cause-oriented initiatives in the community. All of these will inspire you to work better. Plus, you’re only bound to become a kinder and more open-minded person. 

Rest whenever possible

Yes, you’re a digital nomad. No, you’re not a robot. Even the latter malfunctions without rest and is made from sturdier materials than your human anatomy. Do not abuse your body.

Remember that it’s okay to slow down. While the climate crisis is getting worse and will become irreversible in a few years without proper intervention from global stakeholders, you still have plenty of time to explore the world. So take it easy and rest when necessary. You’re not running the Amazing Race. You’re on your own special journey and even the moments that feel like non-occasions are part of the adventure.

Follow a healthy lifestyle

You will be trying out all sorts of foods. You’ll be drinking foreign beers and strange cocktails. You will be having the time of your life. But never neglect your health. After all, you get to do what you are doing because your body allows you to. If you don’t take care of it, it’s bound to fail at some point. And that will be a complete downer. Should that happen, travel and work stop.

So while on the road, one of your top goals should be to stay healthy. There’s no other way to keep on with your adventure. 

Final Message 

Thanks to the last decades’ plummeting airfares and the increasing connectivity brought about by technological innovations, you have been given an option to pursue a lifestyle that only the affluent could afford back in the old days. And it’s up to you to decide whether it’s something you wish to try or say no to. If you choose the former, make sure everything’s in order before you leave. Do the necessary preparations to avoid all possible problems. While you’re on the road, aim for that elusive work-life balance everyone clamors for. And, of course, stay safe and have a blast!

Author’s Bio:  Randall Brody 

Randall is the Founder of Tax Samaritan, a boutique firm specializing in the preparation of taxes and the resolution of tax problems for Americans living abroad, as well as the other unique tax issues that apply to taxpayers. Here, they help taxpayers

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