Life on the road can be great! Traveling and exploring new places is enlightening and exciting but, when you make your living traveling or have a job that requires near-constant travel, it can be challenging to find a routine that works.
Here are my best productivity tips for living as digital nomad and getting things done while on the road. While I am not an expert, I have used these tips successfully for the past 15 years of working remotely more than 95% of the time. Of course, what works for me may not work for you but, hopefully, these ideas will get you started.
Get your head right. Being productive (at home/office and on the road, requires you to have the right mindset. Motivation comes from many different places and understand that even if you are on the road or working remotely, you still have a job to do and obligations to clients and co-workers. Never forget that. Your goal should be for the change in your work location to be invisible to your clients – no interruptions in deliverables or communications. If you are stuck for motivation, check out some podcasts on the topic. One I consider a must-listen is this, from Carter Ferguson.
Create a schedule. Start by determining the time zone of where you are and how you can make that work for your clients. If you aren’t beholden to any specific times, go wild and work when you feel at your best/most creative. In either case, you should make a schedule that breaks up the workday. How much time do you need for your priority tasks? Have you allocated time to answer communications? Is there a block of writing/creating time? Did you factor in breaks for food or exercise?
Craft a dedicated working space. Whether you are sitting in the hotel, a coffee shop, or just an open space on a sunny day, you need to have the right set-up. I don’t recommend a public space unless you can adequately spread out and have enough flat surface for your laptop/tablet, writing paraphernalia, assorted chargers/battery packs, and a beverage. You also need to be honest with yourself regarding your tolerance for distraction. Can you really focus properly with people walking by or with television yammering away in the background? Also, if you are working from a coffee shop or café, please be courteous and purchase food/drink regularly. These establishments are in business for selling food, not for hosting your ass for free.
Make a priority list. This goes along with creating your daily schedule and creating a seamless experience for your clients. What are the top 4 things you must get done each day? Make that list each night for the following day and do your absolute best to accomplish each task. I find it’s never a good idea to set more than 4 must-do tasks because it dilutes the critical nature of a priority.
Be ready to work at odd hours. I know this sort of contradicts number 2, but if you are in a timezone different from your clients or core customer base, consider working those hours. It’s all about the seamless experience.
Enjoy your downtime!! Working remotely is great and offers a certain level of freedom but it is still work so when you have downtime or off time, get out and enjoy all your locale has to offer. If you are traveling some place you really want to enjoy try to arrive 2-3 days before your typical work week begins. This will give you time for the must-see things on your destination wishlist and a bit of time to settle in and prepare for your work schedule.
Bonus Tip!!!! Make your environment as close to home/your happy place as you can. If you have touches of home, you can relax and be more productive and focused. For example, as I write this I am holed up at a hotel in Troy, Michigan working on client strategy stuff for the week. To make my hotel room as pleasant a workspace as possible, I brought my small travel candle to overpower stale hotel room odors and cozy socks to keep my toes toasty. Without these things I would probably be fussy and unfocused on the work I need to do. You may take a small framed photo, favorite wrap or lounge pants, or even a wrist rest for your keyboard.
These tips can be used even if you are traveling to relatives for the holidays but not taking any official time off.
What do you think? Did I miss anything? I’d love to read your tips for getting the most from working remotely so share your ideas in the comments and thanks for stopping by!