Getting distracted from work is easy. Getting distracted from work as a digital nomad is nearly impossible to avoid.
As a full-time traveler and remote worker, you need to keep your income flowing in order to maintain your lifestyle. Avoiding all the new places, people, and food, though (at least long enough to get some work done), is tough.
Staying productive as a digital nomad is one of the most important things to be mindful of while on the road. Even though you might rather be out exploring your new location, without spending quality time with your laptop, clients, or business, you’ll be on the next flight home before you know it.
Follow these steps to get productive — and stay that way — as a remote worker. Your long-term travel lifestyle depends on it!
I used to set my alarm for 8 AM every morning, snooze a few times, and then finally get up once I could stand to pull my eyes open. Needless to say, it wasn’t a recipe for starting a productive day.
After realizing my faults, I decided to completely turn my mornings around. Now, I wake up at 5:30 AM (no matter what), make myself coffee, and immediately sit down to start my first stint of work. Since changing my routine, I’ve never looked back.
Now, that’s not to say you should wake up at 5:30 every morning (you might be most productive at another time), but you should aim to start your day at the same time, in the same way, each time you get up. That means setting your alarm clock and starting your morning routine the first time it goes off.
You’ll find countless people advocating for their own morning routines to make you outrageously productive, but in my experience, the exact steps to your routine don’t really matter. What does matter is that you stick to the same routine — the one that makes you feel good — everyday.
Take some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, for example. People like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg both have vastly different routines. The routines they do have, though, they stick to.
Organize Your Priorities
Once you’ve gone through your morning routine, start your official digital nomad work day by getting organized.
One of the most important things you can do to stay productive while working remotely is set your priorities — for both the day and week — every single morning. Put them somewhere visual, whether that’s a virtual sticky note on your desktop, or a real one on your wall.
Without knowing your biggest and smallest priorities while working, you’ll be doing just that — working. You won’t, however, be producing.
We all know you can work, work, and work without ever getting anything done. By setting priorities and accomplishing specific tasks, though, you’ll be able to actually produce results from that work.
As a remote worker, a great way to keep your priorities aligned is with Asana, a project management app that lets you create projects, subtasks, and goals in a clean, visual workspace. Try it out for tracking your priorities this week.
Enhance Your Workspace
As a digital nomad, there’s often only so much you can do to enhance your workspace. It might depend entirely on your Airbnb or hotel setup. However, if you can choose an Airbnb or apartment conducive to remote work, you’ll be far better off.
Even if your workspace doesn’t have all the right gadgets, though (or if you’re working from a coffee shop), there are still a few ways you can enhance it.
And whatever you do, avoid working from your couch or bed. Sure, it’s tempting when you’re working remotely, but it’s the worst choice you can make while trying to be productive.
The best thing I ever did for my productivity levels was start using timers. It sounds simple…because it is.
By using a time-tracking app to visually show me what to do and when to do it, though, I was able to seriously enhance my productivity levels.
My favorite technique involves the Pomodoro timer, which helps you work in short sprints combined with quick breaks.
Each “chunk” of work and breaks is 2 hours long, with a longer break after each 2 hour segment. You can then repeat the timer as many times as you need.
I used to work by getting as much done for as long as I could stay focused. Then, once I lost focus, I’d push myself to keep working, but inevitably produce really poor results.
With the Pomodoro technique, I make myself take each break throughout the day, which has led to a lot more work done, and a lot better results. You’ll be surprised how much more effective you can be when your brain isn’t fried.
Whatever timing technique you use, the most important thing to remember is not to multitask. Stick to a single project within each time segment, and continue with that specific project until it’s complete.
Use the Right Apps
What would a digital nomad be without their apps? I’m sure you have tons of your own favorites. When it comes to productivity, though, too many bells and whistles can weigh you down.
Try choosing a specific set of apps with a single goal for each, and streamline all your tasks, goals, and priorities within those few. Not only will it help you stay organized, it’ll declutter your phone and laptop (not to mention your brain), too.
Staying Productive as a Digital Nomad
Productivity won’t happen overnight; it’s something you need to work toward. By making small changes along the way, though, these tips will become habits.
Start by focusing on your morning routine. Wake up at the same time everyday, and then do what makes you feel best. Once you feel you’ve mastered that step, move onto the next.
Within a month or so of consistently focusing on each of these productivity steps, you’ll see your work efforts soar. And the more productive you can be with your work, the more time you’ll have to travel.