9 Productivity Tips for Digital Nomads
Life as a digital nomad can be wonderful: going where the wind blows you, never knowing where you’ll be next, meeting fellow travelers, and getting to know yourself better. It can also be challenging to stay productive, find places to work, and keep on-track with all of your to-dos. Here are nine productivity tips for digital nomads.
1. Find a Coworking Space
My best productivity tip for digital nomads is to find a coworking space to work out of. Many spaces offer daypasses, a bundle of passes, or even hourly coworking, so you don’t have to make a long-term commitment. You’ll likely find that you’re more productive in a coworking space than you are a coffee shop because you can actually go heads-down and get some focused work done. Bonus: In a coworking space, you can also grow your professional (and social) network.
ProTip: Find a coworking space you like ahead of time so you can go in and get right to work rather than wandering around trying to find a space that works for you.
2. Join Support Networks
Everybody needs friends and a network—even digital nomads. Finding like-minded people who understand the joys and challenges of being a digital nomad, and can offer tips and tricks from their experience, can be a game-changer. Places to find networks of freelancers and digital nomads include:
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Groups
- Meetups for freelancers and independent professionals
- Local networking events
- Coworking spaces
3. Use Cloud Services
If you lose your backpack, or your computer dies on you, you need to know you can reboot from another device and still access all of your work. The number of cloud-based tools that let you access your documents, images, project management platforms, CRM, invoices and more is growing daily.
Some of the most commonly-used cloud-based tools are the Google Suite, which includes Gmail, Drive for documents and spreadsheets, Slides and more; Dropbox for storing and sharing images and documents; and Evernote, Asana, Trello and Basecamp for project management and scheduling. Find the tools that work for you, use them, and rest easy knowing you can access your work from wherever you are and whatever device you’re on.
4. Prioritize Your Tasks and Projects
Life as a digital nomad can be unpredictable. Know which tasks are must-dos and which ones can be bumped to another day. Carve out and protect your work time and make sure your must-dos get done each day. If possible, create a routine and make sure you set aside time to work when you’re at your best.
5. Work Sprints
When you’re grounded in one location, get as much work done as you can. This way, when things are less certain and you’re traveling around, you already have the bulk of your work finished. This is smart on a practical level and it will also help you free up time and mental energy so you can enjoy your travels rather than stress about unfinished work.
6. Use a Project Management Tool
As mentioned above, cloud-based project management tools are invaluable when it comes to keeping track of all your different projects, clients and tasks. In addition to planning, you can store resources, links, images and marketing collateral in the tools. You can also plan your weeks and days ahead of time so you know exactly what you need to work on at any given time.
7. Get a Good To-Do List
In addition to a project management tool, it’s helpful to have a to-do list app, or even a notebook, if you prefer a more analog solution. As you think of things you need to take care of, such as renewing your passport, transferring money, calling a friend, repairing your surfboard, sending or picking up a package, etc., jot the tasks down in one location. This way, you can see at-a-glance what needs to be done, and nothing falls through the cracks. Two popular to-do list apps are Todoist and Wunderlist.
8. Use a Productivity System
How do you do your best work? What inspires and enables you to be productive? Once you know the answer to this question, create a productivity system that works for you. Popular productivity systems include the Pomodoro Technique, where you work in 25-minute bursts; Time Blocking, where you arrange your days around blocks of time dedicated to one task; and the Getting Things Done technique where you write down everything you need to do then break them into manageable tasks.
9. Take Your Work Offline
Even if you don’t have internet access, you can still get work done. You can mindmap projects, make to-do lists, brainstorm next steps for your business and clients, draft blog posts, generate marketing ideas, and do some big picture planning.
What’s your best productivity tip for digital nomads?
Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking, community and the future of work. Publications include Shareable, Yes! Magazine and Lifehacker. She’s the author of Coworking Out Loud, an ebook guide to content marketing for coworking spaces. She sends weekly tips and resources to coworking space operators.