So, you’ve just come to the realization that working in a cubicle from 9 ’till 5 is not exactly the kind of life you were hoping to lead. And who can blame you? Taking the same commute every day, sitting in the same office hour after hour, having the same exact water-cooler conversations time after time, these things wear a person down after a while. The solution? Try to lead the life of a digital nomad.
This new lifestyle trend is based around the premise that work and leisure are not mutually exclusive, provided you have the necessary skills, and a serious case of wanderlust. The idea is simple really: the wide-spread availability of broadband internet around the world allows enterprising individuals with internet-related jobs to work from basically anywhere. Figuring out how it works is the easy part. The difficulty comes in dealing with a number of problems unique to this way of living. Keeping yourself properly motivated is the first step at overcoming these challenges, so in order to help prospective nomads among you, we have compiled the following list of trouble spots, and some ways on how to avoid them.
Being your own boss sounds good on paper. You get to arrange your daily schedule, take a day off when you see fit, or set up your office under a palm three on a beach. Unfortunately, greater freedom often doesn’t imply greater responsibility. Exotic locales are by definition filled with all manner of exciting distractions, so it’s easy to end up in a situation where you are putting off work day after day just to indulge a little bit more. And when the bills arrive at the end of the month, suddenly you realize that having a boss to nag at you to keep working might not be all that bad. Since you now hold that position yourself, it is up to you to enforce some discipline. The trick to get yourself motivated is to realize that sacrificing some freedom on a daily basis, means you will get more enjoyment in the long run. Make a habit of working a set number of hours during the day is the first step at curbing procrastination.
Faulty internet access
First thing’s first. Without a high-speed internet connection, a digital nomad is dead in the water. Whether you are a web-designer at GWM, a digital marketeer on Facebook, or a writer for Buzzfeed, the inability to access the web means unfinished projects, dissatisfied clients, and no paycheck at the end of the month. While there are ways in which you can mitigate the issue, such as looking for a better Wi-Fi hotspot or buying a roaming data SIM card, there are going to be times where circumstances prevent you from doing anything for a while. The challenge here is to adopt the right attitude while you wait. The best way to keep yourself motivated is to simply accept that there are circumstances outside of your control. There will be good days and bad days, but in the long run they will even out, provided you keep a positive outlook.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is the problem of burning-out. Individuals that decided to try out the nomadic lifestyle after growing dissatisfied with regular employment, are at risk of carrying over their previous work habits into a new environment. This can mean working long hours while minimizing leisure time. Sticking to this kind of work ethic while engaging in a nomadic lifestyle will rapidly lead to physical and mental fatigue. And what’s the point of traveling the globe if you are too exhausted to enjoy yourself a bit at the end of the day? What you need to do is establish a balanced routine. The great thing about being a digital nomad is that after working regular hours, you can spend your free time like a tourist on holiday. So in order to remind yourself what motivated you to chose nomad lifestyle in the first place, act like a tourist once in a while. Try out a new local dish every day after work. Go visit a cultural heritage site every weekend. Take a day-trip to a neighboring town every month. Remember what motivated you to adopt a nomadic lifestyle in the first place – the opportunity to experience the world while still doing regular work.
Digital nomads as a general rule work alone. The idea is that you can rely on your skills (and a decent internet connection) to get the job done. The downside to this is that when you need to unwind after a week’s worth of hard work, you are not likely to find company on a regular basis. Developing long-lasting friendships takes time and engagement, which are luxuries you don’t have if you travel around a lot. As their local acquaintances move on with their lives, digital nomads can end up feeling stranded and isolated. Three things can help here. One is to get to look for other digital nomads in the neighborhood. They are likely to be experiencing the same emotional turbulence as you are, so sharing your burdens over a cup of some local brew can be really uplifting. Second, make sure to keep in touch with people online. Call or text family and friends back at home on a regular basis to keep in touch with what’s going on. Finally, be open for the possibility of falling in love. Where else are you going to find a kindred spirit to travel the world with than on the road?