Being able to work from anywhere might sound great, but how do you stay productive while working remotely?
In November 2018 I turned a long-held dream into reality. I sold all of my stuff, packed what was left into a backpack, and hit the road as a digital nomad.
It was super exciting! I was stoked to start working remotely, from anywhere in the world, fully in control of my time and able to travel (in theory, at least) with no end date in sight.
Fast forward 16 months and the current situation has brought me back to the UK.
We’re in lockdown over here, which has given me plenty of chances to reflect on my time away!
I’ve been thinking about the ups, the downs, and the challenges I’ve encountered. There’s been a lot! But one struggle in particular stands out:
Finding both the motivation and the opportunity to work remotely can be a battle.
There are obstacles at every turn. For one thing, there’s always something much more exciting to do! The temptation not to work has definitely been an issue for me.
Throw in dodgy internet, distracting work spots, and frequent tiredness, and being productive (aka, earning money!) was rarely easy.
Thankfully, I got better at it!
So I decided to put a post together with all the work productivity tips that helped me successfully work remotely.
Are you planning to hit the road as a digital nomad and worried about staying productive? Then keep reading for 10 tips on staying productive while working remotely.
But also if you aren’t planning to become a digital nomad and perhaps are just working remotely from home because of the current situation, you’ll find many of these work productivity tips helpful.
How to Be Productive While Working Remotely
1. Figure Out Your Personal Working Style
First off, I think it’s important to figure out how you work best.
This took me a bit of time, and trial and error, to realize. However, I eventually discovered that I am most productive when I’m well-rested, in a routine, sat somewhere quiet, and have minimal distractions.
Unfortunately, that’s not always easy to find, especially when you’re traveling!
If quiet isn’t possible, then I’ll plug in my headphones. Generally, cranking up any kind of music without lyrics is enough to focus me on my work.
Plenty of caffeine in my system also makes a difference.
And setting daily goals that I can tick off. Checklists can actually train your brain to be more productive and achieve bigger goals!
Try to experiment a bit. Find out how you work best and set about finding an environment that’s conducive to it.
2. Cultivate a Routine
Routine is another big one to help me be productive.
Basically, when I have one I get work done; when I don’t, I don’t!
Cultivating a routine when you’re constantly traveling isn’t straight-forward. I mean, travel and instability/uncertainty go hand in hand. In other words, it tends to create the exact opposite of routine in your life.
But, with a bit of effort, it’s possible to create routine no matter what your life looks like.
For instance, trying to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day can help.
Likewise, have a set routine in the morning. Mine usually looks like this: I wake up early, hop straight into a cold shower, do 10 minutes of mindfulness, eat the same breakfast of oats/fruit/nuts, and then get to work, which in my case means writing up my blog post ideas.
When I’m trying to work especially hard, then I’ll work all morning up until lunch. I’ll get another couple of hours done afterward and then do some exercise. After that, maybe another few hours work until dinner.
Then relax until bed. And repeat.
I always worked better when I had some semblance of a routine in place. The same could be the case for you!
3. Turn Off Your Phone
Distractions are literally everywhere when you’re working remotely.
And even more so when you’re working while traveling.
There are beaches to laze on, ancient sites to explore, mountains to hike up, people to meet, beers to drink, cities to walk through…You name it. There are a million things to attract your attention away from work.
So you definitely don’t need any distractions of your own making.
Do yourself a favor and turn your mobile phone off. Even better, put it out of sight!
Trust me when I tell you that any little vibration or notification noises/flashing lights will be enough to draw your focus away from work! I swear, if you can see the phone, then you’re going to want to use it.
Even putting it behind your laptop (out of sight) should help you stay focused and be productive.
4. Get a Good Computer
Be sure to get a quality computer if you are working remotely.
I managed to swindle myself an awesome second-hand laptop when I became a digital nomad and started working remotely.
It’s been an absolute life-saver in terms of productivity. Everything about it is fast- from the start-up time to the operational stuff I’m doing on it.
Carrying expensive gear around with you isn’t ideal when you’re traveling. It might get lost, stolen, or damaged. But, remember, you aren’t just traveling! You’re working too.
Having quality kit will help out hugely in that endeavor.
5. Go to Libraries
Libraries have been a godsend for me when I was working remotely as a digital nomad.
Not everywhere you travel to will have them. But if you’re in cities of developed counties, then you can almost always find a library.
Most have free internet, air-conditioning, water stations, toilets, desk-space, and power points.
In other words, they’re the perfect place to work and be productive!
Another reason I love libraries is that they’re literally designed with work/study in mind. They’re super quiet and distractions are limited.
I highly recommend finding and frequenting any libraries near you when you’re on the road.
But even if you work remotely from home instead of on the road, working from your local library a few times a week can really help you be more productive.
6. Find Co-Working Spaces and Cafes
Co-working spaces can be great for getting work done and staying productive.
They’re basically shared office spaces dedicated to helping people (often digital nomads) get some work done.
They’re everywhere- all over the world. See if there’s any around where you’re based or where you’re headed next. You’re sure to get some work done this way.
While I was on the road I used several cafes with a co-working space. It’s basically the same deal, but they’re cafes first, and workspaces second. You can expect quality high-speed internet, lots of power outlets, and awesome coffee.
If you can find them, use them!
7. Test the Wi-Fi Before Buying Food/Coffee
When you work remotely as a digital nomad you’re most likely going to be spending a lot of time working from bars, cafes, and restaurants.
That’s not a bad thing in and of itself! You’ll find heaps of awesome spaces to knuckle down and get some work done, all with beautiful coffee and treats to help sweeten the deal.
Just make sure you check if the internet works first.
There were numerous times I went straight to the counter. I ordered, found a table, and got myself set up to work. Only to find that the internet was down or non-existent.
Nightmare. You’ve spent money without being able to replace it! Always check first.
The same goes for power outlets. My laptop runs out of battery pretty quickly, which means I need a power outlet wherever I stop to work. I always check if one’s available before ordering/sitting down, otherwise I’m limited by my battery life.
8. Settle Down Somewhere
This strategy was huge for me in my bid for productivity.
Settling down somewhere for a week, a month, or even longer, was my secret sauce to getting actual work done and feeling productive.
I find it hard to work enough when I am on the move a lot. Traveling from place to place every few days makes it harder to get any structure in your day. That, for me, was kryptonite to my productivity.
Being in one place for longer made a mighty difference.
So if you’re struggling to get any work done, find somewhere that you’re happy to spend some time in. Arrange accommodation for at least a few weeks, and dedicate that time to working and being productive!
9. Buy a Portable Wi-Fi Device
One issue I have as a digital nomad is the constant need for internet. If you want to work, then you have to be connected to it.
It dictates where you can travel and proves distracting when you’re somewhere new.
However, it’s a small price to pay! You get to explore the world on your own terms, making money as you go. That’s epic.
But, to stay productive I recommend getting yourself a mobile WiFi hotspot. I had one in Australia last year and it was great. I got service all over the country, which meant I could continue to work, no matter where I was staying.
Skyroam is a popular option that works in over 130 countries.
10. Take Advantage of (Travel) Time
Staying productive on the road is about taking any chance you get to do some work.
You might have deadlines to meet, clients to talk to, and places to be. Time is of the essence.
You have to be as efficient as possible and get into the habit of working whenever you have a spare moment.
Traveling between places is a prime example of an awesome work opportunity. Think about taking a plane. You might be waiting around for hours to catch your flight. It’s the perfect chance to get your head down. With nothing else to do, you might as well get some work done, right?
Do this whenever you’re moving from one destination to another.
Take advantage of any waiting/idle time that’s forced upon you, such as long bus journeys, delays, and so on.
Approach these moments as work time and you’ll find yourself being very productive on the road.
Stay Productive While Working Remotely!
Traveling indefinitely… Those two words bring me endless joy whenever I realize they apply to my situation!
Being a digital nomad, to me, is dreamy. I love the lifestyle and the freedom it provides.
But it isn’t always easy. Indeed, getting enough work done to make indefinite travel possible is usually problem number one!
Are you a digital nomad too, or are you thinking about becoming one? Hopefully, the tips in this post will help you stay productive while working remotely.
- How to Work Remotely From Anywhere in the World
- How to Become a Digital Nomad
- 7 Emotional Challenges of Digital Nomad Life & Practical Solutions
- How to Access Blocked Websites Abroad
- How to Deal With Taxes as a Digital Nomad From the US
- How to Stay Healthy While Traveling Long Term
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