Lots of folks lust after the digital nomad lifestyle, but being able to work from anywhere isn’t always a walk in the park. If you haven’t gathered from some of my previous journal entries, even I sometimes struggle with working while being on the go.
However, as time goes on, the instances where something interferes with my work–or my sanity–are fewer and farther between. I wouldn’t say I have it made in the shade, but I have working from anywhere while staying happy and sane down pat. And you can to, if you…
1. Plan ahead
Some folks relish spontaneity so much that they act like “planning” is a dirty word or contagious disease. That’s unfortunate if those same people are trying to be digital nomads, as they’ll have one heck of a time getting their work done, keeping their clients (or boss) happy, and bringing in enough bucks to fund the lifestyle.
I block out chunks of time on my calendar for working on things for Team Impressa. If I’m feeling fancy–or have a big project to work on or a major deadline looming–I’ll even block out by client or task. Of course, usually I do this after any travel has been planned, fun stuff has been scheduled, and any client calls are on my docket. And unless something really super duper amazing comes up (or flight delays), I stick to that schedule to be sure my work gets done.
2. Lighten up
I had this big HP laptop with a screen that was a touch over 17 inches, a super long life battery, and a bunch of other bells and whistles. While the big screen was nice for multitasking (and watching movies), I just didn’t need that much computer. And after my first trip abroad with it, I didn’t want that much computer either!
Now I have a MacBook Air tucked into a lightweight sleeve that gets nestled into a large purse. My shoulders thank me.
3. Use the cloud
Thanks to the cloud, you can really work from anywhere, accessing files across different devices in different locations. This sounds good, but it gets better when you randomly need to grab client data and your computer is locked away in a hotel room across town. Or when your computer is stolen, and you’re still able to make money (for a new computer) by working at internet cafes. Or when you are able to purchase a less expensive computer with less memory. You get the picture.
4. Eat in
I love love love to dine out, and this is even truer when I am away from Las Vegas. I want to experience a new restaurant for every meal, but I more often cook for myself.
Eating out for every meal can get nutty expensive and can deplete your disposable income. And it’s not very good for you.
5. Walk a lot
When I’m on the road, my work schedule is no different than when I am at home. Running my business, keeping clients happy, and mentoring folks on freelancing and digital nomading devours up to eight hours of my life every day. This means I’m not going out and seeing the sites–unless by sites, you mean that quaint little cafe I like with low noise and those tasty waffle things. To make up for this, I walk as often as possible.
By going for a stroll, I’m take in more of where I am. I get a better look at things on foot than I do when I am whizzing by in an Uber or crunched onto a bus or train. And I get to smell and experience the city, stumbling into shops and occasionally interacting with other pedestrians. The whole experience makes me feel the place I’m in more thoroughly, and I think it gives me a better understanding of what it’s like to be a local.
6. Don’t only go to places you want to go
If I only traveled to places I really wanted to visit, I would have missed out on some of the best experiences I’ve had digital nomading. In all fairness, I might have also missed out on some of the less pleasant experience as well. But I’m one of those folks who believe that we’re the sum of our experiences, so if I hadn’t have spent time in those places then, would I be the me I am now. And I think I have a better understanding of the world for it.
7. Use timezones to your favor
A lot of Team Impressa’s clients have been (historically) based on the west coast, so that made trips to New York and visits back home even more awesome. I would promise to have work submitted by noon, but that was noon Pacific Time. This meant I could sleep in and still have all of my work in on time. And, of course, this isn’t the only way to game the system.
8. Go to networking events or mixers
Holy cow! Heading out to these events in cities you are visiting makes you look fancy as all get out. If you are based in wherever you are based out of and doing business in their city, you must be a big deal!
I’m not saying that you will have folks fawning over you, but you may just get some added attention. And either way, you may get a little bit of an ego boost when your ways of working from anywhere are legitimized by total stranger–even if your mom doesn’t quite get it.
9. Visit clients
If you have clients (or remote employers) who are in locations that coincide with your travel plans, say “hi.” Or if you are looking for your next destination, make it one where you can have some face-to-face time with the folks who pay your bills.
These are excellent opportunities to build rapport and possibly even have some of the hard talks you weren’t ready to have over Skype. Yes, this is the time to pitch them on the bigger retainer or announce a rate hike.
I think the biggest benefit is a boost in confidence. Some clients are nervous about their constantly galavanting writer, consultant, or whomever you are to them. While the assumption is incorrect, they may think that you aren’t serious or professional because you are on the road all the time, but an in-person meeting can rectify this in no time.
10. Constantly look for your next new client
When you are on the road, it’s incredibly tempting to stop prospecting, generating leads, and putting in bids. Trying to get new clients eats up time you could spend exploring! And it’s not like you’re directly getting paid for doing any of this stuff!
Yes, you could be exploring and you aren’t getting paid, but that’s not the point! Without constantly trying to reel in new clientele, you are putting your livelihood and lifestyle at risk! When you complete a current project (or lose a current client), you lose a chunk of your income. If there is no one poised to become your newest client, you may be faced with trying to desperately drum up work or having to give up on digital nomading until you come up with more cash.
Instead, always be marketing yourself. Always be putting those feelers out there on social media, on freelancing sites, and anywhere else you get work. Constantly look to add to your client portfolio, and if an offer comes along that’s not a good fit for you and your lifestyle, you can always say “no.”