Staying productive as a digital nomad isn’t easy.
In fact, I’d argue that balancing work and travel is one of the hardest parts of the digital nomad lifestyle. This is especially true if you’re traveling too quickly—a common mistake among digital nomad noobies (I’m guilty too!).
That said, no matter your travel speed, there are several tricks you can use to knock out your work faster—leaving you more time to make local friends, learn languages, try new foods, explore new place, or whatever your little digital nomad heart desires.
After all, you didn’t travel halfway across the world to spend 10 hours a day glued to your computer screen, did you?
By applying these five productivity hacks for digital nomads, you’ll quickly find you’re able to get more done in less time.
#1.) Schedule something fun in the afternoon
You’ve probably realized that work tends to expand into the time period available.
Deadlines are important.
And what better deadline than scheduling a fun activity in the afternoon?
This could be a:
- Food tour
- Scuba dive trip
- Hot date with a local
…whatever fits your fancy.
The more fun and expensive, the better (especially if it’s non-refundable).
Without a deadline, your project might stretch out the entire day. But if you reserved a non-refundable paragliding excursion at 2pm, I bet you’ll find a way to finish that project by 2pm.
Not only does this kick you into overdrive mode, but it also forces workaholics like me to break away from the screen at a certain time. When you run a business and don’t set a hard end time, your never-ending task list consumes your entire day.
#2.) Be prepared with an offline plan
Balancing work and travel is hard enough. You need to take advantage of every free moment that you get.
That means being prepared to work offline.
There’s nothing worse than feeling motivated to knock out work, but finding yourself somewhere with no connection.
To avoid this, create an “offline work” checklist that you go through every time you have a travel day or are moving to a new accommodation with an unconfirmed internet situation.
For me, that means:
- Open all websites I may need for research
- Saving documents in Google Drive for offline use
- Downloading anything else I need to download
- Making sure all my batteries (and powerbanks) are charged.
Depend on the types of travel jobs you do, this checklist might look different for you.
But no matter your job, there are almost always tasks you can knock out during offline time if you are prepared.
Preparation is key.
#3.) – Skyrocket your work output using productivity tools
Today’s technology has made it easier than ever for solopreneurs to grow their business without the need to hire outside help.
There’s literally a tool or piece of software for everything. Many of these tools can automate tedious, repetitive, time-sucking tasks—shaving off hours of work each day.
Best of all, many of these tools are super cheap (or even free).
The problem is, with so many tool options out there, it can be overwhelming trying to find the best one to suit your needs—especially if you’re bootstrapping or have a tight budget.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve searched high and low, testing hundreds of different tools in attempts to find the most efficient, budget-friendly setup. You can find them all in my Work From Anywhere Toolkit, which is guaranteed to save you boatloads of time and money (it certainly has for me).
Apart for the toolkit, I also recommend signing up for the Appsumo newsletter. They send out emails with limited-time promotions that let you buy lifetime deals for tools that normally require expensive monthly subscriptions.
For example, I once paid $59 for lifetime access to a social media scheduling tool that normally cost $39 per month. I’ve been using it now for 2.5 years. So if you break out your calculator—that’s over $1,000 in savings (and growing).
And that’s only one of the several hidden gem tools I’ve found on there. Can’t recommend it enough.
#4.) – Carry a “tiny task” list wherever you go
This is kinda like an offline plan, but different.
A tiny task list is a list of….well, tiny tasks…that you can squeeze into small pockets of downtime throughout your day.
Waiting in line at the grocery store, at a restaurant, at the bus terminal…or even when sitting on the toilet!
Instead of wasting these valuable time-pockets mindlessly drooling on Instagram, put them to use.
- Answer email
- Write an outline
- Brainstorm ideas
- Bulk write future social media posts
- Plan your weekly and monthly goals
Or maybe even doing quick non-work to-do tasks so you don’t have to do them later.
When you fit small tasks into your small time pockets, it allows you to give 100% focus to your big tasks when sit down to have an actual work session.
#5.) – Learn to be “wifi independent”
Internet is the crux of all digital nomads. Especially if you like off-the-beaten path destinations (or van life) like we do.
To stay productive, you must take your wifi destiny into your own hands.
That means not relying on internet in your accommodation or coffee shops. Instead, take your internet with you.
Whether that be tethering to a local SIM card on your phone, using a global hotspot like Skyroam, or making use of one of these other types of mobile hotspots for digital nomads—you need to be wifi independent.
There are tons of internet solutions for digital nomads nowadays, so take advantage of them!
#1 tip for working while traveling
Productivity for digital nomads is important. If you’re not efficient, it’s gonna be a hard lifestyle to maintain.
HOWEVER—and I know this sounds contradictory—but hear me out…
The #1 key to surviving as a digital nomad is to accept that perfect productivity is impossible.
Just accept it.
You might start your digital nomad journey feeling like superman, expecting to do it all.
But it’s unreasonable to think you’ll be as productive traveling as you would back home with a normal routine.
As a digital nomad, you have to make sacrifices. You can’t give 100% to your business while also traveling the world.
If you think you can, you’re in for disappointment and frustration.
You have to sloooowwww down.
Which, turns out, isn’t that big of a deal.
Because as a digital nomad, you don’t need to be in a rush.
You don’t have a two-week time frame to cram all your activities in like a “normal” traveler. You can travel indefinitely.
You don’t need to explode your business overnight. You can live in cheap countries until it grows.
So, what I’m trying to say is, productivity is great. But unless you want to burnout as a digital nomad…
…slow and steady wins the race.
Mitch is your typical nomadic backpacker. Or at least, he was. But after stopping in Colombia to take “one week” of salsa lessons, his life took a sharp left turn. He met a cute Colombian girl in dance class, fell in love, and got married. Over half a decade has passed since he left his career to travel the world as a digital nomad, and he’s never looked back.
Nowadays, he’s the blogger behind Project Untethered—where he runs an awesome email newsletter and Youtube channel teaching adventure-craved wanderlusters how to escape the rat race, earn money from anywhere, and build an “untethered life”.