A Digital Nomad’s success is down to their mindset……
There’s a lot to be said for being able to work from anywhere and to the beat of your own drum – it provides a sense of freedom that most people rarely experience, except perhaps when they go on holiday.
This is probably one of the reasons that people assume that being a Digital Nomad and being on holiday equate to one and the same thing – this is definitely not the case!
With great freedom comes great responsibility – you have to be able to stay focused amid all the distractions that working to the beat of your own drum entails.
In short, you have to establish the right mindset in order to make a success of becoming a Digital Nomad. Key to that mindset is the understanding that, whilst being a Digital Nomad provides extraordinary levels of freedom, you are not on holiday!
Unless you have an inexhaustible supply of money behind you, you are going to need income – this is what Digital Nomads do; they generate income from anywhere they happen to be at just about any time of the day. Not instantly but over time (days, weeks, months).
Despite the claims of some, you don’t generate money without putting in a lot of effort.
Having the right mindset protects you from looking like David:
David has decided that he likes the sound of the Digital Nomad lifestyle & so he has quit his job and is going to work just three days each week – from home. He sets his computer up on his dining room table, and is ready to get to work!
However, four hours later he’s shocked to realise that he’s completed very little. What has he been doing? Well, he had to make coffee. Then he did a load of laundry, took a phone call from a friend, and sorted through the mail when it arrived. One thing led to another, and now he’s really behind!
The Digital Nomad lifestyle looks appealing, but it’s also full of distractions. If you work from home (or any unstructured environment – like a coffee shop, the beach, library, etc) you are the only one that can make sure you’re doing a full day of focused & productive work.
This is what having the right mindset is all about – recognising that whilst a Digital Nomad has freedom of choice, that freedom can only last if it is supported by productive work.
Let’s continue to explore what every Digital Nomad has to deal with – to one extent or another. Digital Nomads have many benefits:
- You can be more productive because regular workplace distractions (such as casual phone calls, impromptu meetings or interruptions from other staff) aren’t applicable.
- You can be more relaxed and have better morale because your schedule is flexible and fits your needs. This will lead to less stress.
- You’ll have more time, as you won’t need to commute to & from a workplace.
- You get to choose where you want to live & work from
Of course, for all the benefits there are also a number of challenges:
- Other distractions can negatively impact your productivity if you’re not self-disciplined, especially if family members are around during the day.
- You can feel isolated if you are working alone.
- You may find it more difficult to be productive when you’re unsupervised.
- Separating work hours from off hours can be difficult, causing you to work more.
The Digital Nomad life is definitely not for everyone. Some people love the freedom and have the required self-discipline, while others need supervision to be effective, or yearn for the energy and camaraderie of a busy office environment.
So, how can you develop the required mindset? Here are some suggestions:
- Have a dedicated workspace – If you want to do your best work you need a dedicated workspace – preferably not your kitchen table! Ideally, this space should be a separate room with a door that you can close to shut off distractions. The more you make it feel like a “Real workspace,” the more productive you’ll be. A room with a door also helps you stop working at the end of the day. When you close the door, it means you’re off work.
- Be comfortable – don’t sit on stools or kitchen chairs all day!
- Make sure your “Work space” is a place where you enjoy spending time.
- Make sure your desk is big enough – This will vary, depending on the type of work you do.
- Keep essential tools in an area that you can reach from your desk; this reduces frustration, and avoids the need to get up repeatedly when you need something.
- Tidy your work space daily – spend a few minutes at the end of each day clearing off your desk and filing papers. This is especially important if you don’t have a dedicated work area.
Good time management skills are essential for Digital Nomads:
- Have clear goals and targets for yourself.
- Create structure for your day – Get up, take breaks, and quit working at the time you have allocated.
- Prioritise daily tasks with a to-do list – Knowing that certain items must get done by the end of the day will help you avoid distractions.
- Make a to-do list of “in between” items – These are tasks that won’t take more than 10 minutes to complete. For instance, if you have a conference call 15 minutes from now, you can choose one of these shorter tasks that you can complete quickly.
Although you may, at first, enjoy the freedom of a Digital Nomad, over time it may become very isolating and you may feel lonely. You may start to miss the relationships and interactions with your former co-workers. This, in turn, can hurt your productivity, and cause you to lose focus.
- Find out what truly motivates you – understand your “Why” and remind yourself of it often (Simon Sinek has a great Youtube presentation on knowing your why).
- Know your goals, and work on a project basis – Make sure that you have clear work and career goals that you’re working towards. Also, try to structure your work so that you have clearly-defined projects that you need to deliver, and specific deadlines that you need to meet.
- Identify distraction – Are you doing household chores during the day? Is the TV on? Are friends and family constantly interrupting you? Figure out what’s causing you to lose focus, and develop strategies to overcome these things. Often this is as simple as shutting your office door.
Further suggestions on making this work:
- If you have a family train family members to let you work – teach your family members that when you’re in your office, you’re “Away.” Put a sign on the door to help them remember. If you have young children, use colours instead of words to let them know to “Stop” or “Go.” You can be flexible – as long as you are disciplined!
- Beware the Internet! One click generally leads to another &, before you know it, what you are viewing has nothing to do with what you are supposed to be doing. If you see something of interest make a not & get back to it at another time.
- Set alarms – If you tend to waste too much time on the Internet or with other distractions, then set an alarm clock or kitchen timer for one hour at a time. Do one hour of focused work – and when the alarm goes off, reward yourself with something you enjoy. Then set the timer for another hour of work.
- Dress in work clothes – You’ll feel more productive if you dress just as if you were going into a regular workplace..
Remember, the way you look at your work will determine the way you treat it. Get your head straight & you will remain productive – if you allow yourself to lose focus you’ll end up with 10 days of income but 30 days of bills, & that isn’t a nice feeling.