By: Samira Holma
Working while you're traveling full-time is a dream for many. While it isn't suitable for everyone, it can be the most amazing lifestyle if it fits you. I've been a full-time traveler for 2+ years and can't imagine having it in any other way.
I've experimented a lot with the work life balance and different ways of performing at my best, while living a life constantly on the move. Here are 10 tips on how to stay productive while you're traveling full-time, based on first-hand experience.
Tip #1 - Learn how to choose consciously
There will always be a good day for an adventure. You'll be surrounded by temptations, but to do well long-term, learning how to say no is key.
It's worth skipping an average happening, and even things that get you excited at times, to prioritize your career. You're on your way to the top, after all. By saying no, you'll have more time for those things that you really want to do.
Tip #2 - Use that extra time on the go
You'll often be on your way somewhere and find yourself with a few minutes of down time in between destinations and activities. Use that time.
I often finish tasks before the food arrives at restaurants. Commute time is great for writing and listening to inspirational podcasts, while you easily can check emails while you're waiting in line.
I also always carry a notebook with me, which I fill with ideas, prep notes ahead of meetings, and outlines for new content. This is extra useful when you feel like taking a break from your laptop.
Tip #3 - Combine work with sightseeing
Context switching helps me to stay more productive. It's also a great way to explore a place while you're working. Bring your laptop and visit a neighboring town, head to a beach café, or just another part of the city you're based in.
I've worked from deserts, mountains, boats, vineyards, lodges, beaches, and hundreds of cafés and restaurants. Replace that five-minute coffee break with a dip in the ocean. I promise that you'll feel even more refreshed.
If you prefer to work from home or in a more closed environment, you can divide your time into bigger blocks of free time and work instead.
Tip #4 - Get work done while you're most productive
Use the luxury of being able to work at any time to your benefit by experimenting and learning at what time you're most productive. Let this determine how you distribute your work throughout the day. When you're supposed to work, work.
Many influencers provide great inspiration about how to stay focused. I like Andy Frisella's posts, which are all about no excuses.
Tip #5 - Use tools that help you excel
I use apps to organize everything, and to make sure that I focus my time on the right tasks. My most important criteria for productivity tools are that they should be accessible from anywhere, be available across devices, and save you time.
These are a few of my favorites (all of them offer free versions):
- Asana: Project management, lists, and life management (seriously, I don't remember how I managed before!)
- Google Suites: Storage, work on the go, share work with others
- Hootsuite: Social media management
- Skype: Video meetings & calls
- Canva: Professional designs
- Meeting Planner: Schedule meetings across time zones
- Lastpass: Save all your passwords in one place
Tip #6 - Schedule enough time in each place
Reduce unnecessary stress by scheduling enough time at each destination based on your workload, need for rest, and sightseeing wish list. In this way, you'll be able to focus on work and take that island trip you're so excited about, without feeling bad about it. It's also okay to not do everything at every place every time.
I prefer to travel without dates and usually decide how long I'll stay once I'm onsite. Even if I arrive with a rough plan, it always changes.
Tip #7 - Let new friends know about your work
Talk to friends about your work, so they understand that you won't be hanging around like a typical tourist. Most of my local friends work and understand that I need to do the same. It's nothing wrong with being surrounded by people who are on holiday, either. You might receive extra questions about why you're not going out everyday, but in the end, it's all about your discipline.
Tip #8 - Find out what else gives you energy
You usually perform better at work when you feel good about other areas in life.
You don't need to have fixed routines if you're not that kind of person (I'm not), but it helps to figure out what else you need in life to stay productive. Set flexible goals based on these insights, such as "I'll workout 3 times a week." These can then be achieved in different ways, even if you're traveling.
For me, a comfortable place where I can work efficiently is important. I also make sure to schedule enough time for things that make me happy, such as training, good food, dancing, exploring, and meeting new people.
Tip #9 - Evaluate and improve
Evaluate your productivity at the end of each day or week. Ask yourself questions such as; What worked? What didn't? Did I finish everything I wanted to? If not, were my expectations too high? What can I improve? How did I feel?
Keeping a journal makes this easier. My favorite journal app works excellent as a personal journal, too.
Don't expect yourself to be perfect. It's easy to feel as if one should be productive all the time. This can be stressful, which leads us to the last point…
Tip #10 - Take time off
While it's amazing to always be based in different, beautiful places, it's as important to take proper breaks from work to stay productive.
When you're an entrepreneur, you usually have your own projects to think about, once you're finished with your clients. Work will never end naturally, so it's up to you to set the limits. It's so easy to get trapped in some kind of in-between-work-and-vacation mode when you're traveling full-time.
I've become better at this. In addition to taking full days and "time blocks" off, where I'm trying to avoid everything work-related, I go for at least one trip where I disconnect completely every year. It helps me to reflect, and the feeling afterwards is amazing.
A lifestyle that works long-term
In the end, staying productive while you're traveling full-time is all about finding a lifestyle that works for you long-term.
I love my relatively fast-paced life, but it's not for everyone. Being a traveling digital nomad requires discipline, planning, energy, and a lot of drive. All of us are different, and the point is to get to know what works for you and use those insights to your benefit.
Think about your ideal lifestyle. Set your tempo based on that, and make sure to include enough time for both work and other things that make you happy.
What tips do you have for staying productive while traveling? Tweet us at @yonder_io to share!
Samira Holma is a writer and content marketer specialized in the travel industry. She's also a full-time traveler and have so far been to 50+ countries.
Her drive is to inspire others to explore and experience more around the world. She do this by helping exciting travel brands with their content marketing, and by sharing authentic tips from her own trips around the world.
For more info and travel inspiration, check out Samira's website or connect with her on her social channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).