How to be more productive as a Digital Nomad8 min read

How to be more productive as a Digital Nomad8 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes

When you’re a digital nomad, you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder every day to make sure you’re staying on track.  So, you have to come up with your own system be productive and focused.  

And it isn’t always easy. There are days when all I want to do is switch on my favorite TV show or waste the day away perusing Instagram. But, as any digital nomad will tell you, staying on top of your work responsibilities become even more important when you opt for a location-independent lifestyle.  

When you go to your boss and make a case to work remotely, they really need to believe and trust that your efficiency isn’t going to slow down and balls aren’t going to be dropped. They need to know they can count on you still.  When I first started working remotely, I found myself striving to work even harder than usual, because I really didn’t want to blow it!  I knew I had a good thing going and was determined to hold onto that.

Ok now let’s get to it!

1.    Sit up straight or stand to stay alert

I know this one may seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how easy it is to slump into the couch and then immediately go into lounge mode.  And once you’re down, it’s hard to get back up!  When need to be working, it’s a good idea to find a chair that allows you to sit up straight OR opt to stand!  I often find that I am more productive when I stand at the counter vs sit in a chair.  

2.    Find a clean, quiet, distraction-free workspace

Depending on your ADD-level, you may want to reduce noise and distractions in your workspace.  I often find that if I try to work in a messy room, I get incredibly distracted and it ups my anxiety level.  When I’m working in a clean environment, I am much more able to focus on the work.  

I am easily distracted by noises and try to reduce those when possible.  If I’m somewhere where I can’t control certain noises, I will block them out with a white noise sound effect in my Airpods or soft music.  

Distractions also come in many other forms—travelers vying for your attention, pets, noisy neighbors, etc.  And the best thing to do is remove yourself from those situations—just for a little while! I find that you can usually knock out your work in half the time when you remove distractions vs trying to work thru them. 

3.    Take your laptop to a coworking space for the day

When I’m working and traveling, I will often hole up at a coworking space to get stuff done and mix things up.  A group work setting helps provide structure and being surrounded by hardworking individuals also helps immensely with your own motivation.  It gives you a sense of community that you may not have when working out of your home.  I always meet like-minded people at coworking spaces and so it’s also a great networking opportunity!

They also often have great amenities like coffee, conference rooms, and more!

4.    Keep track of your time spent on work activities

I found Toggl when I moved to a contract lifestyle and needed to start keeping track of my minutes worked on different projects.  It allows you to setup projects and then attribute hours worked to those.  It really helps you plan out your day and understand what your work hours go towards. 

You can set a timer while you work or you can input time worked afterwards.  The app on your computer will also give you reminders to clock your time, which is helpful when you get on a roll and forget to start the timer!  On the other end, if you start the timer but then let your computer idle – it will ask if you are finished working and give you the option to remove the time your computer was idle.

5.    Make time for play as well as work

Making sure you get your work done while in a new, cool city, can be one of the hardest tasks a digital nomad faces.  But life shouldn’t be all work and no play.  In fact, it’s really important to build play into your schedule.  When I’m traveling, I will make a long list of all the things I want to do in that city and then assign them to days & times. I will try to do at least one sightseeing activity each day and will plan my work schedule around that.  Knowing that I get to see at least one new thing each day, helps make me more productive and satisfied throughout the day.

If you are in a country with a differing time zone, this can often be used to your advantage, giving you more time in a new city to explore.  For example, if you’re working LA business hours but currently in Europe – spend the day time touring and going to museums and then begin working at 5PM.  The days are long, so this is not for the faint at heart, but if you have an energetic persona (or a lot of coffee) it’s definitely doable!

6.    Stay connected with Google Fi Phone Plan

I remember being really anxious about how my clients and colleagues could get in touch with me when I first started my digital nomad adventures.  My research brought me to the Google Fi and I am pleased to report that it has worked out brilliantly!  

I recommend using it with a device that can activate on an e-sim, as well as has a slot for a physical sim.  I bought a Google Pixel phone and activated on e-sim, which allows me to ALSO purchase a local sim card and toggle between the Google Fi plan and the local sim card plan. This really helped me feel more comfortable about traveling while working, knowing that my clients could always get in touch with me and I wouldn’t miss emails.

The Fi app also shows you how much data you’ve used, as well as the cost of any international calls—very handy.

7.    Use your commuting time to get some work in

This is one area where an international data plan like Google Fi really comes in handy! Whenever I’m traveling on a long-haul flight, a train, a car ride—I try to plan out tasks that I can do.  

I would so much rather be tied up during my commute and save my free time for when I arrive in a country.  I’ll even go as far as using a walk into town to make a work phone call (one that doesn’t require being seated at a computer of course).

8.    Calm your mind with guided meditation & soft music

A year ago, I accidentally bought the Calm app for like $70 on iTunes and it ended up being a real treat!  It’s great for soft tunes that you can fall asleep to or guided meditations to help you relax your mind and re-charge.

The last office I worked in, used to do group meditations early in the mornings and it was surprisingly nice.  It just helps ground you before you set out on a day of work.  The ones from Calm are great!  Just 10 minutes, short & sweet.

9.  Start your day off with a run

Staying healthy is really important when you’re a digital nomad and on the road. And gyms aren’t always easy to come by. But the one thing you can do anywhere—is run!  Running is good not only for the body, but the mind as well.  I believe that starting your day off with a run is a great way to clear your head and regain focus.  Not to mention it helps relieve stress and allows you to work more efficiently!

Well those are my top 10 tips for how to be more productive as a digital nomad.  If you are a working nomad, let me know your thoughts and any other helpful tips you’ve developed to work smarter!

Written by: Lauren, an Austin, Texas native currently living in Los Angeles. Originally published in Out Of Office Gal.


Kristina Lukacova, a DN that enjoys good food, good wine and good vibes.

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