Best Productivity Hacks for Digital Nomads

April 16, 2021

 A laptop in the outdoors

Procrastination at the office or home is common, but it is quite impossible to shrug the feeling if you’re a digital nomad. 

Productivity can be a real challenge for everyone. Whether you're working the usual 9-to-5, remotely or in different workspaces every other week, you’re going to have trouble shaking off those jolts of procrastination. 

No matter how flexible their lifestyle may seem, digital nomads always have a schedule to follow. You chose this lifestyle because of the freedom it offers and, to keep to the wheel spinning, you need to figure out how to focus on work again when you’re just not into it. 

If any of this seems relatable to you and your lifestyle, we’re going to help you stay mindful while you’re juggling adventures, new locations, business clients, and whatever challenges come your way. 

Start Every Morning With a Purpose

We’ve all been there. We’ll start our day by snoozing our 9 A.M. alarm a couple of times and finally getting up as soon as our eyes are open. Naturally, this isn’t a very productive start to the day. What you need to do is make the most of your mornings. For instance, you can start waking up an hour or two earlier to make yourself a cup of coffee, and then sit down for your first jolt of productivity. 

Even if your work timings offer more flexibility as compared to others, you should try to keep things consistent and start your day in the same manner every day. This includes setting your alarm an hour earlier and getting up as soon as it goes off. Once you’re up, you should always load up on a healthy breakfast to give yourself the energy to get through your first stint of work.

Workstation Popcorn: Divide Your Day In Chunks

Are you familiar with the concept of ‘workstation popcorn’? This phrase is used to describe the idea that you designate specific workspaces to get different aspects of your work done throughout the day. Workstation popcorn begins with a well-thought out agenda for the day, dividing it throughout your work hours and then assigning each task to a specific venue.

Here’s an example of how workstation popcorn works for digital nomads:

Location 1

  • Task 1 e.g. Go to Cafe (30 minutes)

  • Task 2 e.g. Answer emails (45 minutes)

  • Task 3 e.g. Make calls to clients(1 hour)

Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Location 2

  • Task 1 e.g. Go to motel room (30 minutes)

  • Task 2 e.g. Research and upload data for blog (45 minutes)

  • Task 3 e.g. Write blog (1 hour)

Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Location 3

  1. Task 1 e.g. Go to national park(30 minutes)

  2. Task 2 e.g. Make videos for tomorrow’s blog (45 minutes)

  3. Task 3 e.g. Make raw edits for tomorrow (1 hour)

Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

The idea here is that you know exactly which venue you’re going to be visiting the next day and what task you can jump to while you’re there. This not only helps to induce productivity in your day but also adds venues and coworking spaces with reliable WiFi connections to your itinerary. 

Update Your Nomadic Workspace

Since you’re always on-the-go, you’ll have very limited options to update your workspace. Of course, most of this will have to do with picking your Airbnb or hotel more wisely, but you can still choose all the right tools and gadgets. 

Whatever you buy should depend on the nature of your job. However, following are some of the basic tools that would help your productivity go up exponentially:

  • An easily portable and adjustable standing desk

  • Noise cancelling headphones that could help eliminate sounds from your surroundings

  • A TV- and phone-free workspace 

  • Healthy snacks and water nearby so you never feel drained because of poor nutrition

  • A full-backed and comfortable chair that can prevent the dreaded ‘hunchback slouch’.

Are you wondering how standing desks help you beat inactivity? Well, research suggests that the exercise induced by standing desks helps the users become 45% more productive. A sedentary lifestyle kills productivity and, as a digital nomad, you can do with a little extra productivity.

Time Your Work and Breaks

The legendary martial artist, actor and philosopher Bruce Lee said, “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” 

The best thing you can do to add more productivity into your lifestyle is to use timers. As simple as this solution sounds, time-tracking apps add a visual stimulus to workers and, therefore, seriously enhances productivity levels. 

By timing your work and measuring realistic output in those time intervals, you can also set aside time for breaks. For instance, you could assign a break after each 2-hour segment of work and keep repeating this schedule a couple of times to get through the tasks for the day. 

With the time-tracking technique, you will get a lot of work done and will be surprised at how much you can get done with amazing results. One of the biggest benefits of doing so is that you wouldn't have to multitask throughout your day and will have the option to stick to a specific schedule of tasks. 

Use the Right Tools

What good is a digital nomad without apps? You probably already have various apps on your laptop but having too many may just end up hindering your productivity. What you need to do is try and pick your apps with a single task in mind. Not only will doing so keep your work organized, but it will also declutter your work devices as well as your brain. 

Speaking of apps, we have a couple of apps that would help improve your productivity. These apps include:

Noisli

Are you prone to getting distracted by random noises in the places you visit? This particular application? It was designed to block-out background noises so you could work efficiently in all kinds of environments.

Co

This app lets you merge your times with a to-do list so that you have a specific time slot dedicated to completing all of your tasks. 

RescueTime

The RescueTime app was designed to analyze how much time you spent online and then summarize the findings for you. You might be of the opinion that you spend only a couple of minutes on Instagram, Facebook, or any other application, but in reality, you might be spending up to 5-hours every week. 

Plan Ahead

As a digital nomad, it also helps to plan your to-do list and calendar for tomorrow at the end of your day. By doing this, you wouldn’t have to scramble for the next meeting or worry about having enough time to do other social activities. If you’ve planned out your day beforehand, you will already be mentally prepared for the work and one step ahead of your challenges for the day. 

This particular tip also falls in line with Mark Twain’s famous ‘Eat a Frog’ quote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Here is a simple way of getting your ‘tomorrow list’ in order:

  1. At the end of each day, make a note of all the tasks that need to be completed on the next day. 

  2. Have a look at your to-do list before starting your day every day.

  3. End the day by writing down a to-do list for the next day. 


Make Space for Work and Exploration

One of the biggest benefits of being a digital nomad is that you can vary your work hours and travel from coast to coast or even the entire world. What you need to do is make space for both work and travel. One productivity hack that works really well for digital nomads is that they can assign 2-hour windows during lunch and dinner to explore and to work in the time slots in between. 


Ending Noteside 

Productivity doesn’t come overnight. It is something that you will have to work hard for by making small changes in your lifestyle. Within no time, these changes will become habits and your productivity will inspire results. 

The first goal you need to assign yourself is to perfect your morning routine. Try to wake up in the morning with a purpose and then follow this up by doing a task that you find easiest to do or, perhaps, even enjoy. Once you’ve mastered your morning routine, you can move right onto the next goal - dividing your day into chunks. 

If you keep at this practice, it will take you nearly a month to really start focusing on each step and see their results blossom in your work. Of course, the more productive you are in your work, the more you will be able to travel and enjoy the perks of a digital nomad lifestyle. 

Good luck!

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