While traveling, many people have asked if I ever work, how I can possibly get all my work done, and if I even have a real job. Short answers: always, discipline and yes!
Living and working as a digital nomad is a lifestyle choice, one that isn’t right for everyone. It’s hard and exhausting, but also exhilarating and rewarding. It takes hard work, self motivation and a whole lot of discipline. My “home” is where my suitcase is and I don’t know where I’ll be next week, next month, or next year.
Every day, I’m on the search for strong WiFi with easy access to a power outlet, hoping I remembered to throw my charger/adapter/notebook in my bag. I work from airports, cafes, beach bars, and mountain slopes. I hot spot from buses and cars, hope my next AirBNB has a high-speed connection.
I am almost constantly connected, be it from my laptop or phone. I answer emails, instant messages, texts and calls throughout the day and night. I am more accessible and flexible, taking meetings at odd hours to make up for not being physically present in a drab old cubicle.
“But how do you get your work done when you’re always travelling?”
I make the most of the time I have. I cut my daily commute from two hours to an average of 30 minutes depending on the cafe. I don’t watch TV other than the occasional in-flight movie. Most of my life is digital, cutting down on errands. Shopping sprees are few and far between with the limited space in my overstuffed suitcase. I don’t have a house to clean, kids to cook for or pets to walk (no matter how badly I want a dog).
And in my free time? That’s when I fit in the adventures, find new experiences, and focus on myself, living my life for me. We can create adventure anywhere we are – get out and try something new! Social media let’s me share the excitement, beauty and wonder of the world I am forever grateful to explore. But social media doesn’t show you all the challenges of the lifestyle I’m choosing to live, and I don’t want it to.
So how do I fight to succeed in this crazy yet amazing lifestyle I’m living?
- Find a rhythm: I won’t call it a schedule because it isn’t the same everyday, but I find trends and commit to what I will accomplish to stay focused. In Europe, I found working an uninterrupted morning while my US based colleagues slept was incredibly productive with an intense level of focus. Taking a long afternoon break to explore before an evening of meetings provided the energy I needed to finish strong. In the US, I’m admittedly still trying to figure out my balance, but find an early start is again my highest productivity. I cater my schedule to my needs where it can be flexible while ensuring I meet the needs of my employers.
- Be disciplined: Without a set start time or office, it can be tough to roll out of bed and get on with my workday. Other times, I have a huge case of FOMO being stuck with work that needs to get done. Self discipline to deliver on my responsibilities is what makes this lifestyle feasible. Building trust with my colleagues, clients and management is crucial, and working my a** off to ace deliverables pays dividends with more trust and (usually) increased flexibility.
- Plan ahead: It’s a little counter intuitive, but I have to plan my freedom. I create a flexible schedule by blocking time in my calendar and clearly communicating my availability. I review my schedule in advance to determine where I can swap working hours with activities, and work odd hours or weekends to meet (or more likely beat) my deadlines.
I may not have a traditional job or a traditional lifestyle, but it works for me and I can promise you, I work a whole lot more than what you see!