The term “Digital Nomad” becoming more and more popular in every year within last decade, maybe more visible in last 5 years. It has become well known and accepted as more people shared their nomadic stories on their blogs.
We can say it’s more like a lifestyle change than a temporary thing for most people. There is a pattern on the personas accepted this lifestyle. They are working mostly in the tech industry, usually creates stuff, standalone or not needing constant collaboration with a team or don’t have physical dependencies (sourcing materials etc). People like sysadmins, developers, designers, digital artists…
The term “nomad” explains the lifestyle factor more than being digital because it’s all about being location independent. Working from everywhere at any time (often working all the time for entrepreneur versions). Does it sound great right? Executing is not necessarily that great 🙂
I’ve been experimenting with different elements of becoming a digital nomad in last year period. Each of the following topics below deserves a much deeper explanation but I’ll summarize them now. I’ll write about each one separately later.
Becoming workspace independent
The biggest lifestyle change you will have to make to become digital nomad is changing where you work. This change will require becoming less dependent on hardware or tools you use. It’s essentially becoming more lightweight to be able to travel whenever you want. When I say travel, it does not necessarily travel long distances. It can be a short trip to your favorite coffee shop or museum for the day. If you are kind of person needs to get used to the environment or work setup, unfortunately, you will struggle on this one.
Becoming lightweight worker means more analytical approach to the only carry what you need to be able to work. For most of the tech industry workers, this means only a portable computer or smart device (tablet, phone). For rest, it may mean few more items to carry with a portable computer but it can’t be carrying tons of because you may need. You have to be very careful of size, weight and the total size of your bag. You can’t carry heavy back-pack all the time.
For me, it becomes just iPad pro + charger and a small pocket Moleskine notebook in a tote bag. I’m constantly thinking about how to minimize it more (maybe no charger, maybe smaller iPad)
I will definitely write about coding and working on iPad Pro later.
Being able to focus on crowded or distracting environments is a very important skill you have to master in order to become a good digital nomad. Because more likely that you will be working in very distracting environments. Get a good noise canceling headphone. Create few different music playlists that get you in the zone. It is more likely to be different genres. I’ve been playing different tempo playlists based on the environment and the time of day.
Learn how to NOT interact with everything. Learn how to observe less when you want to focus. Learn how to go offline or how to stop your notifications using don’t disturb modes on your phone or computer. Remember, notifications are productivity and focus killers. I’ve tried many tools that block websites, blocks apps, tracks time that when I check my emails etc… Learning your own behavior and how much and how often you spend the time to check some distracting activity on email, social media, WhatsApp.
Mastering time management
Managing your own time well is essential when you have the freedom on when you can work. Freedom is hard to keep control of, for most of the people. It’s very easy to fall in small and unimportant stuff that will waste many hours if not your day. Being able to plan your day with what to work on and when to work or how long to work is very important to stay on track to deliver results. Estimating work is as important as planning your work hours.
You may want to experiment with different time management methods like Pomodoro or support your focus with the offline mode or dedicated and limited time for email reading, checking social media or whatever can distract you.
Mastering navigation in the city
Once you can focus and manage your time easily when you find a place to work, it’s going to be easy to work like a nomad. But it’s still very important to find a place to work and be effective of getting around. If you are traveling often or trying new places constantly, you will need to minimize the amount of time you spend on the commute, lunch breaks or traveling between places in the day. This sounds not important and predictable but if you plan to work in 2 or 3 different places in a day, you may waste a lot of time and focus when you try to go to a new location or having breaks unplanned.
Living digital nomad’s life sounds great but hard to learn and adapt. It will be 10x harder to stay disciplined on these main points, compared to a regular job. It’s even harder to find people to work with this lifestyle. Digital nomad friendly jobs becoming more accessible and accepted in the industry with even big companies. I’ll be writing about these topics more.