So you wanna work remotely? Good for you! I’ve been doing so for the past five years and have never looked back. Don’t get me wrong—freelancing isn’t easy and it comes with its own set of challenges—but the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world has always outweighed the negative. For first-timers, swapping a cubicle for a corner of a cafe table can feel daunting but with a few tweaks, you’ll settle into your new work routine just fine.
Make it as a digital nomad with these 5 must-know tips
1) Create your happy “work” space
From an early age, I learned that I’m a bit more affected by my environment than others. I remember moving to college and not leaving my dorm room until it “felt” like home. I do the same things every time I move, which is a LOT. So, it’s no surprise that I treat my work space as a sanctuary of sorts, whether I’m cafe hopping in Europe or working from home in New York.
For me, I make sure I have a clean workspace, even if that means that it’s my computer and nothing else. For you, it might mean placing a notepad beside your laptop or it could be lighting a scented candle to de-stress your mind. This way, no matter what environment you’re working from, your workspace will feel familiar.
2) Find your tribe
Once you’ve mastered not being a stranger, test your limits even more by finding your tribe. I recently signed up for Croissant, which allows users to access coworking spaces around New York for a set monthly fee (available in select cities) and that’s made a huge difference in my productivity. It also adds some serious structure to my day, which is no easy task.
Finding your tribe might not lead to new friendships (although I hope it does!) but you might get another gig out of it. You can either network in person, which I definitely recommend in a major cities like New York because everyone knows someone. Another alternative is looking for work online. I’d recommend Workfast because it’s flexible, the rates are higher than I’ve seen elsewhere and you get paid daily. As someone who has waited weeks, even months, for payment, this is a major plus!
3) Choose your cafe wisely
It’s no secret that digital nomads love their coffee shops. On a basic level it makes perfect sense, what with coffee to drink, scones to eat and wifi to work. That said, not all coffee shops are created equal and choosing the wrong can and will weaken your productivity for the day.
Apps Work Hard Anywhere have info on the best cafes for wifi connectivity while Yelp may give you insight on whether or not there are power stations. After all, you’ll undoubtedly need a top off after a few hours…and I’m not talking about coffee here. It might take a few tries but most cities have a handful of cafes that welcome freelancers who essentially squat there until closing.
4) Don’t be a stranger
As both an introvert and a digital nomad, I’m no stranger to being a stranger. Other than telling the barista my order, I pretty much keep to myself. While that’s perfectly okay, I’d suggest chatting with your neighbor once in awhile. This is a great way to meet fellow travelers while your on the road or connect with locals who know their city better than you ever could.
Of course, you’ll want to read the room. If nobody is talking, then perhaps wait until you see an opening. Alternatively, choose a cafe or coworking space that regularly hosts events and get-togethers. In a more casual environment, you can mix and mingle without feeling like you’re distracting someone hard at work.
5) Structure your day
Speaking of structure, you should have some! Since you aren’t working from a set office everyday, you likely don’t have normal “office” hours either. I’ve learned that planning out my day, hour by hour has really helped me accomplish more tasks in a shorter amount of time. Sure, my “plan” doesn’t always go according to plan but then I just tweak my schedule.
When you’re planning out your work day, don’t forget to add personal time for yourself. I went through a period where I was waking up and going straight to work without taking a shower or making breakfast and ultimately, that bad habit sabotaged my work. Don’t make my mistake. Set yourself up for success from the moment you wake up. I promise you’ll feel better, and fare better!
How do you stay productive on the road? Tell me in the comments below!
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