The digital nomad lifestyle has many benefits… being able to work from wherever you want, travel, and enjoy life whilst maintaining an active work career could seem like a dream to most… and it is idyllic, but only when you manage to find the right balance! Get it wrong, and you could find yourself running around, stressed out from travelling, unable to find a steady internet connection or a desk to sit and work at, spending too much time organizing your day to day set up and not enough time focused on your actual work. So, here are a few tips to consider for all those freelance workers out there who are not based at an office, and want to find the magical balance between work and play….
1 – Before you take a trip anywhere.. make sure you check that you will have decent internet connection available! Okay, this seems like a logical one, but sometimes I just assume there is stable connection everywhere now, and that clearly is not true! I remember taking a boat trip in the Philippines last year, arriving at the amazing Caramoan Islands, only to get there and realise there was ZERO connection available. This basically meant that I could not stay there any longer than 24 hours, until I had to shuttle myself back to the mainland and get back to work! It was pretty disappointing! So it’s basic and should go unsaid, but make sure before you travel that you will have sufficient connection wherever you go. Don’t forget, not everyone has the same concept of “stable internet” 🙂
2 – If you are a freelancer like me, you are probably used to wearing numerous hats, and logging on endless hours. There is no stability, no set time, just a constant stream of squeezing in work hours anywhere and everywhere. Well don’t do it! Set yourself a schedule, no matter where you are working from. Adapt it to your location so that you can still enjoy plenty of surf, kiting, snowboarding, nature, whatever it is you love to do with your day! Just make sure you set aside those all import work hours, and stick to your schedule, no matter what amazing alternative pops up! … (because there are ALWAYS exciting alternatives!) It’s important to remember that even though you are a freelancer, you still need to get the work done!
3 – … and that leads me to point number 3… even though you are a freelancer, it doesn’t mean you are expected to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Remember to take days off, switch off your phone, don’t check your email. Rest is essential to help our productivity levels. Sometimes you just really need to learn to disconnect. It’s ironic that I am writing this as I am the worst person ever at disconnecting. I haven’t taken a full day off without working since I can remember! I bascially recall being in hospital after having my second boy, and sitting there on my laptop answering emails about 2 hours after his was born. DON’T make the same mistakes I did! Everyone is entitled to rest, to enjoying special moments, and it shouldn’t make a difference if you are a freelancer or a business owner, earn that rest is just as important as work. Entrepreneurs and freelancers get paid through problem-solving and creativity. You can create a solution in a shorter period of time if you are rested and rejuvenated. Find that balance!
4 – Stay inspired! It’s so easy to fall in to routine and a lack of creativity if you work by yourself and you are not surrounded by a team. I think this is one of the hardest parts of working alone, from wherever. If you are in an office with a team, you throw ideas around, you make eachother laugh, you connect, you feed of each others ideas and suggestions. If you are working from home, or from anywhere, if can sometimes feel like you lack that connection, and that inspiration. So how can you stay inspired when you work remotely? Well, there are lots of things you can do. Join a networking group, meet with people regularly to just talk about ideas and inspiration, find a co-working space near you so you can connect with like-minded people. Try and find a way to do these things in real life, and not just networking remotely. We need that real connection of talking to people to awaken certain things within us. Find things that inspire you, go to a gallery, read a book, make something, use your hands, get creative. Do something that will disconnect you from your work and insipire you in different ways. Remember that productivity doesn’t come from being glued to the helm every waking moment but from how energized and, as a result, focused and organized your brain is. Humans are just like iphones: We have to be recharged, or we run out of juice.
5 – Work Smart! Be Organized! Instead of just randomly working through things, create a new, better organized calendar which breaks your month into different sections, making sure you cover all the rest, research, active work etc that you need to cover. This can include “Rest Days” when you don’t work and are not allowed to check your emails or social networks, “Prep days” for planning and preparation; and “focus days” for high-value, goal-oriented practices. This can really improve your productivity and getting things rolling in a way more efficient day!
But of course, don’t forget to really enjoy this advantage that you have of being able to work from anywhere, enjoy life, gain experiences and not be tied down to the office desk!