Being a digital nomad, working from home, or having a remote job comes with some great benefits. To be successful with this kind of lifestyle, you need to have a few specific nomad skills – self-discipline is one of them. But that is not enough. Very often people struggle with being productive when they can set their own schedule and work from wherever they want. If you have some difficulties with focusing on work, too, read the following post and learn how to increase your productivity as a digital nomad.
Table of Contents
Increase Your Productivity When Working Alone
1. Create an Appropriate Working Space
Not having a steady office where you can go to every day can be a massive benefit. You don’t have to spend time and money on commuting and you won’t get distracted by colleagues. On the other hand, a proper working space is needed to get your work done.
When you work from home or while you are traveling, make sure to create such a place. This includes having a comfortable place to sit. Laying in bed or on your couch may be comfortable, too, but soon your back will hate you and you are also less productive since you are more likely to fall into a “relax mode”.
Good light is important to keep you awake and focused and you should have a quiet room. Working from a nice hotel pool is surely ok for a while. But being distracted by other guests, having the sunlight on your screen, and having no plug socket lead eventually to decreased productivity.
If you can’t create such a working environment at home, in your hotel, or in a nearby café, check out if there is a co-working space around. You get to work in a usually well-equipped office space but with a more laid-back atmosphere. It is also a great place to meet like-minded people and connect. They are flexible in terms of working hours or how long you want to use the space. Have a look at websites such as Coworking Map to find a place near you.
2. Use High-Quality Equipment
Talking about working space: Another important step to increase your productivity as a digital nomad is to make sure that you have functioning equipment. Since you are using your laptop and your smartphone pretty much all day long, 7 days a week, you need to have good-quality products.
Depending on the kind of remote work you are doing, your electronics probably need to have a long-lasting battery, enough memory, and be lightweight. Make sure you have a working anti-virus program installed on both your laptop and smartphone and access public internet connection via VPN only. You will also need a high-quality headset to talk to your clients or team members.
And don’t forget about the internet. Especially, when you travel around as a digital nomad you are often in regions, with terrible wi-fi. It might be worth getting a local SIM card, so you are able to get a mobile connection. They are usually very cheap, if not free, and can save your life in case you need to send out some very important emails but your accommodation and all the cafés nearby don’t have a proper connection.
Learn how to tackle a bad internet connection and improve it immediately.
3. Set up Routines
One of the advantages of being a digital nomad is that you can escape your old life full of boring daily routines. This exciting new life is surely great, but it doesn’t mean that you should avoid routines at all costs. The opposite. Integrating some routines in your everyday life can help you a lot when you want to increase your productivity.
Don’t be scared now, you don’t have to put your entire day in routines. Small ones can help, too. I personally like to drink a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice while reading my private emails in the morning. I take my time when eating a healthy breakfast, do some stretching and a bit of yoga afterward, and then start to work.
This is a tiny routine that I can easily integrate wherever in the world I am and it prepares my body and mind for the day. If I’d just gotten up, grabbed a coffee, and started working straight away, I wouldn’t get much done in the first few hours since my body would still be asleep. You don’t need to create morning routines.
One of my clients does a 15-minute meditation session every lunch break to be able to focus better. Be creative and see what works best for your body. Try to find things that you can do everywhere in the world. Also, try not to over-routine your life. Use small, but efficient ones, so they won’t get boring anytime soon.
4. Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Since we were just talking about it: Having a healthy body and mind is absolutely essential if you want to be productive. Being constantly tired, sick, or not able to concentrate can reduce the amount of work you get done significantly. Especially, when we are traveling we tend to neglect this one a little bit.
Healthy food should be at the very top of your list. I’m not a nutritionist, so I won’t give you any extended advice on that. But make sure to eat a balanced diet, with enough veggies, fruits, and whole foods. And drink plenty of water. It will help your brain to focus.
You should also work out on a regular basis. I find it way easier to wake up refreshed and to get up in the morning when I go running two to three times a week. The more stress I have, the more I try to get some exercise. Apps like Seven help you to get your workout done without a gym or any equipment.
Yoga is also a great way to keep your body and mind in shape. It strengthens the muscles, which is important when you sit down all day, and the breathing techniques help your mind to relax, recover, and re-energize. You don’t have to do it for hours. Just a few minutes every day can do wonders. The same goes for meditation. Give it a try for a few weeks and see how these methods increase your productivity.
5. Find Your Own Schedule
Very simple: You are an early bird, can easily wake up in the morning and get loads of things done before lunch? Then schedule your most important tasks for the day in the morning. Do you hate mornings and are most productive in the evenings and during the night? Fine then. Schedule your work during these hours. In case you work with clients or in a team, you will have to coordinate a bit of course.
Do you like taking a 4-hour lunch break to go for a run, take a shower, have lunch, and chat with a friend? Do so and schedule your work around it. Don’t work from 9-5 just because that’s what most people do. Listen to your own body rhythm and work when your body is awake and motivated.
6. Take Breaks
This is one thing I have struggled with the most in the past. I always thought I didn’t need breaks and could work all day long. Well, I can, but the outcome of all those hours is miserable in comparison to what I can do when I take breaks. Your brain needs some distance from work to get new energy.
Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro technique? It is a very commonly used method to break down work into intervals, originally 25 minutes in length, with short breaks in between. These short scheduled breaks can prevent you from using up all of your energy by pushing yourself too hard. Maybe you should give this a try and see how it works for you.
Apart from the Pomodoro technique, you should always have a decent lunch or dinner break, depending on your working hours. Have a nice healthy meal or go out for a walk. Use the time to explore the new city. The fresh air will also help you get a perfect start once you get back.
7. Reduce Lost Hours
Another great way to get more things done is using the time, you usually wouldn’t work. As a digital nomad, you are probably traveling a fair bit every once in a while. See if you can work on the train, during flight stopovers at the airport, or while you are waiting for your room to be ready to check-in. If you won’t have internet access when traveling, download everything you need in advance and do offline work.
You will be surprised how much work you can get done in these 30 minutes or 2 hours. The new working environment can also enhance your creativity. Give it a try and learn how to make the most of your “lost” hours.
8. Schedule Tasks
To increase your productivity further, you should also invest a bit of time in scheduling your to-do’s. This is something I have been doing for years and it helps me a lot! At least once a week, usually Sunday night, I sit down and schedule all my tasks for the upcoming week in a calendar on my computer. I stick to my scheduled tasks and treat them as important as I would do with business appointments.
If for any reason I’m not able to get everything done, I schedule it for the next possible time slot, so I won’t forget to do it. Without my calendar, I would truly be lost and wouldn’t get half of the things done. Organization is the key!
There are many free apps out there, like EssentialPIM or Cal, or simply use Google Calendar or Outlook. Only make sure you choose an app that easily synchronizes your laptop with your smartphone and vice versa.
9. Turn Off Social Media
Another important tip to increase your productivity is to turn off any type of distraction during your work. No Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, no WhatsApp! I’m talking about private accounts here, of course. If you are managing the social media accounts for clients or your own business, you clearly can’t turn it off.
Also, stop checking your emails every ten minutes. Unless it is something extremely important, you will be fine answering them every 8 hours. Make it a habit to not constantly check these things. I know it only looks like a minute or two. But trust me, the time adds up and your brain needs a little while to focus back on your work.
10. No Multitasking
Some people are great when it comes to multitasking. I also tend to do ten things at the same time, thinking I do fantastic in all of it. The truth is I might be able to get everything done in a decent amount of time and quality. But I’m sure I could do better if I did it one by one.
It takes much more energy to switch back and forth between tasks. This slows you down and causes you to miss small details. There are even studies that prove that multitasking, in fact, reduces your productivity, like the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance published in 2001. The authors explain how much time you lose when multitasking. Try to focus on one thing first before you start something else.
11. Tools and Apps
Luckily, there are many tools and apps out there today, that help you to increase your productivity. As already mentioned, use tools to organize all of your tasks, like Business Calendar 2 or Evernote, which helps you keep track of all of your little notes during the day.
If you are managing social media accounts you can use tools for automation, like HootSuite or Buffer. Schedule your posts and activities in advance so you have more time to do other things. Time-tracking apps are also very handy. You get to see how much time you are actually spending on tasks and they are a great way to prove to your clients how many hours you did.
I personally love Time Doctor. This app tracks the work you are doing and reminds you to stay focused in case you are about to get distracted by things like Facebook or YouTube. Bills are sent to your clients automatically and you can integrate it with many other project management tools.
Want more helpful apps for digital nomads? Check out the linked post!
I know you’d love to do it all yourself. If you are just starting out, you might not even have to budget to hire someone. But sometimes it is best for your business to invest in it from the very beginning.
For example, if you want to be a successful blogger, you need to have a professional website. Themes like Divi make it easy for everyone to customize sites even with absolutely zero knowledge of programming. But you might not know what is possible and googling how to create every little button can take up much of your time. Or maybe you are a developer and want to sell your new app, but are lost when it comes to marketing? Get some help!
Yes, it is an investment and you are on a tight budget. But trust me, the outcome is worth it. It will save you the precious time you can use to focus on your core skills. It also saves you money in the long run and definitely a lot of energy and nerves.
13. Love What You Do
I know, it sounds very clichéd. But loving what you do makes a massive difference. Yes, it is still a job, but it doesn’t feel like it anymore. Monday mornings don’t bother you anymore because you like your job. You can increase your productivity as a digital nomad so much by being passionate about your work.
Easier said than done? Maybe. I’m not saying you should quit your office job and hope to make money by watching Netflix all day. But try to find something that really interests you and try to move to a life where you can make money with just that.
How to be More Productive When Working in Teams
1. Share the Same Information
Make sure you can all access the same documents when the entire team has to work with them. Nothing worse than finding out two people updated a huge Excel sheet separately and then having to somehow copy the versions together. Issues like that can take up much time and thus, decrease your working outcome. The easiest thing to avoid problems like that is to use any type of web-based filing system, such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
2. Track Progress
Unfortunately, not everyone is as motivated and ambitious about your business as you are. Create work packages with a clear description of what everyone has to do. Create milestones and check their progress regularly. You will be surprised how much it can increase your productivity if you identify potential issues early enough. Again, there are many tools out there to help you organize these tasks and make you more efficient, for example, Wrike or Asana.
As usual, communication is a key factor. Having remote jobs also means that your team is located somewhere else in the world and you don’t get to see each other. Schedule regular meetings and keep everyone up to date. Have an agenda, take minutes, and make them accessible to everyone, so even weeks after your meeting you can go back and check again what you’ve agreed on. It can increase your productivity as a team a lot if you talk to each other regularly. And I mean structured, efficient meetings. No 3-hour mass conferences about something that only 2 participants were concerned about.
4. Document Processes
If you work in a big team or have many freelancers working for you who frequently change, you should make sure that your processes are documented somewhere. What are the rules for customer service? How can you manually implement a refund if a customer is not satisfied with your product? What is the exact name of the color you are using on your website? Have it all written down so new team members can access the information straight away and everyone knows what to do in case someone is on holiday or calls in sick.
As already mentioned motivation is a key component when you want to increase your productivity. The same goes for your team. Make sure you reward great performance. Tell them if they did well. Be a team player. Support each other. Create a working atmosphere where people love to participate and contribute. Productivity will improve automatically.
Improve Your Skills
When you tell people that you work from home or are a digital nomad, many will react with “Whaaat? I could never do that! I wouldn’t get anything done!”. And they might be right. I strongly believe that this is not the right lifestyle for everyone and that you need to have certain skills, like self-discipline, if you want to be successful with it.
However, there are quite a few tricks that increase your productivity and that can help you get more work done. Even if you think you are already very productive, there is always room for improvement.
I hope this list gave you some inspiration on how you can make your remote working lifestyle easier and how to enjoy it even more. Do you know any other tricks on how to increase your productivity? Let me know in the comment section below!