‘Digital nomad lifestyle’, for most of us who resonate with the term, means travelling + working. It sounds fun, and yeah it is. But it’s easy to fall into ‘holiday mode’, which means no income! Cooper and I have discovered that routine is critical when trying to maintain a healthy nomad lifestyle. Falling out of a routine means you can quite easily become demotivated. Hence, ‘holiday mode’, which doesn’t pay for this way of life consistently.
A few weeks back we realised our routine (or lack thereof) was letting us down. Over the past few months we’ve been refining a digital nomad routine that fits with our lifestyle, so we re-implemented the plan.
Maybe some of these tips will resonate with you too.
Nomad lifestyle: 7 tips for an effective work/life travel routine
Plan daily, keep a diary
When you’re travelling and working on the road you need to be super organised. Use a diary! We plan our days in advance and share a Google calendar which tracks the work Cooper and I do together as well as individual workloads. We plan it all in, can see when it’s coming up, and try to stick to the times we’ve set. Quite often we will also plan time in for daily exercise or getting out and about.
Depending on where you are, your daily routines can fluctuate. A group of full time digital nomads have shared insight into how they manage their routine, on the Becoming a Digital Nomad blog.
Project plan within your week
We don’t just plan our days in advance, but our weeks too. Blocks of time are planned into our diary for project work. For example, we might have a three hour period marked as ‘website development’. We break that down into sections, so within that time frame we might want to achieve finding a new theme for the website and editing the copy on the home page. If we get those tasks completed in that time frame, we’ve achieved our goal for that day.
It’s very easy to plan a chunk of time for ‘a project’ but get distracted and overwhelmed on where to start, then not to anything of any real substance! But, if you plan smaller tasks into a larger section of time, you’re more likely to complete the priorities you’ve set for yourself.
Cooper and I catch up each morning to see where we’re up to and to reschedule anything that didn’t get done the day before. There’s obviously the need to be flexible if something more urgent needs to be prioritised.
Nomad lifestyle requires planning around disruption
Travelling between house sits or new locations means we lose work time. That’s totally fine, but we have come to accept that we need to give time to cleaning, packing, moving.
We used to plan work into our travel time (e.g. work on the train or plane), but it never gets done between being tired or having no space/internet/power. We now look ahead at what’s coming up and don’t schedule real chunks of work into that time.
Consequently, if Wednesday becomes our Saturday for the week, or we need to work on the weekend because we had some ‘days off’ during the week, so be it. But it’s in our diary. See points one and two.
Be accountable to someone else
We’ve made a deal to keep each other accountable. Diary alerts, alarms, nagging each other works. I’m pretty good at organising things, but Cooper’s better and making us stick to time. So, we work as a team to make our routine work to time.
If you don’t have a partner to do this, find other ways. You can appoint an accountability buddy who also runs their own business or freelances; connect on social media to prompt and encourage each other. Find meetups with other intrepid solo travellers, work at a coworking space or visit coworking cafes so there’s others with the same mindset around you.
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
To stay out of holiday mode, stick to a sleep routine too. Science says that it’s far better for our health and wellbeing to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even if it’s your ‘day off’.
Find out more in this piece I wrote for Get it Magazine in October 2019.
Take breaks and make time for play
It’s important to step away from work. Maintain your work/life balance. We hear about this in the corporate world but it’s just as important when you’re working for yourself. And don’t mistake ‘travel’ for ‘holidays’.
There is a huge difference between being on a holiday, and travelling while we’re working.
Don’t get me wrong – we love that our office landscape changes frequently, and that we can explore new cultures and make new friends along the way. That’s fantastic! But we are trying to run a business and as anyone who works for themselves knows, that’s a seven days a week gig, and rarely 9am to 5pm.
It’s for this reason we do have to make sure we exercise, do Yoga, meditate. House and pet sitting keeps us in check though, because there’s always a dog who needs attention, walkies, ball time and love.
Keep in mind too, that if your body is telling you to take a break – re-prioritise – and do so! You’ve got the control over your time. The Morning Maryjolaine blog makes some nice points on this. See FOMO vs JOMO.
Switch off each night
For your mental health and wellbeing – switch your devices off at least an hour before bed. No social, no emails – step away from the machine, my digital nomad friends!
Got any other tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.