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The ability to work remotely from anywhere you want is an awesome privilege. But while it comes with plenty of perks, being a digital nomad also has its challenges with one of the biggest ones being productivity.
It can be hard to focus on your work when you could spend your day at the beach, stay in bed for hours doom scrolling on the internet or spend your time sightseeing.
What you need to stay productive as a digital nomad is a system and routine to give you some sort of structure, similar to what you’d get with an office job. Here are some great productivity tips to help you establish a system that ensures you hit your work goals while still enjoying lots of downtime.
1. Start With The Basics — Sleep, Food and Exercise
Most digital nomads automatically turn to apps and various productivity hacks to try and improve their workflow, but don't bother to fix the foundational issues.
No app will help you if you are sleep deprived or you are eating junk food all the time. Your brain and body are your best productivity aids and you need to take good care of them.
Make sure you get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Establish a healthy nighttime routine that sees you asleep by latest 11pm.
A good diet is crucial for staying alert and energetic. Cut down on the junk and processed foods and eat more veggies, fruits, wholegrains and proteins.
Make sure you also get at least half an hour of moderate to intensive exercise daily. This can be a treadmill, a run outside, cycling or swimming. Regular exercise does wonders for alertness, focus and creativity.
2. Reduce Unnecessary Chores
Your time is precious and you want to maximize it working and having fun. So eliminate or reduce any unnecessary tasks and chores. For example, laundry. One option is using a laundromat. Some hotels, if you are staying in one, also offer laundry services.
If you are cooking your own food, see if you can hire a chef to do it for you and maybe even do the dishes.
3. Have a Routine That Works For You
Routine, routine, routine — it’s everything when it comes to productivity. It establishes the structure and system you need to balance work and pleasure.
It’s crucial to have a routine that works for you. For instance, don't force yourself to start work at 8am when you prefer lazy mornings. Make sure the routine includes time for fun, work, sleep and general downtime.
Tip: Split your work time into multiple periods with breaks in-between for rest or exercise.
4. Look for a Conducive Work Environment
Photos of digital nomads working from a beach look cool and all, but they are often unrealistic. If you want to get actual work done, you need a work-friendly environment. Of course, this will change as you move around, but try to always find a place that’s quiet, well lit, and has good internet.
This can be an Airbnb, a hotel room, a cafe, a shared office or a local library.
5. Be Strict With Work-Life Balance
Once you have your routine, stick to it as much as you can. Don’t be tempted to work late into the night or have fun when you should be working. Of course there are days when you may need to extend your work time or some days you just want to laze around.
But on most days, maintain a strict work-life boundary. Otherwise, you could start to develop bad habits that could affect your productivity such as sleeping late, overworking (leading to burnout) and others.
6. Use Productivity Aids
Once you have a routine, you’ve sorted the basics (sleep, diet and exercise) and you have a great place to work from, now you can turn to tech to help you achieve your goals.
There are plenty of productivity apps and programs that digital nomads can use to set goals, monitor progress, communicate with team members and accomplish other things. Just pick the ones that will help you most.
7. Be Flexible
Finally, don't stick to your routine so strongly that you can’t change it. Digital nomads often find themselves in varying environments and situations that may force you to adjust your routine.
Or maybe your work has changed and your routine no longer works for you. Or maybe you just want to try something new.
The point is, don't be rigid. You have the freedome to change and adapt your schedule, so take advantage of it.
In addition to productivity, another common challenge for digital nomads is loneliness. Cultural and language barriers and lack of familiar faces can leave you feeling isolated. I could write a whole post on this, but I’ll just leave you with three tips: embrace the solitude instead of fighting it, stay in touch with friends and family, and try to make friends wherever you go.