As a remote worker, it’s sometimes hard to stay focused on work while traveling the world. After all, there are so many things to do and see whenever you find yourself in a new country. Countless things to discover and so many things to organize! And sometimes, it’s just very difficult to stay productive with all these new impressions and distractions.
During my time as a digital nomad, I have tried a couple of techniques that helped me staying disciplined and productive. I’ve also talked to other nomads and asked how they do it. So, without further ado, here’s a couple of ideas that might help manage your time as a remote worker.
1. Schedule your day beforehand & stick to it!
Logically, every person has different working habits and different methods work for different people. Personally, I’ve found that planning and keeping a schedule works best. Before a work day, I plan and organize the next day by making a schedule about what I have to do the next day. For example, this is something that I would write down in my agenda (just a simple example):
9AM – 11AM: Work for client 1
11AM – 1PM: Write article
1PM – 2PM: Lunch
2PM – 4PM: Work for client 2
4PM – 6PM: Study time
And for each bullet point, I would list a couple of more detailed to-do ‘sub’ bullet points.
I’ve found that planning my day like this provides a sense of structure and clarity, and there is no ‘chaos’ in my mind. Of course, you do need to stick to the schedule once you create it and that does require perseverance and dedication. But I’ve found that once you stick to it, you instantly feel more productive as well as more organized.
2. Find someone that holds you accountable
Because I travel with my boyfriend, who is really hard working, I’ve found that this actually helps me focus as well, just because I see him working hard, and so I try to do the same. Essentially, he is someone that holds me accountable. When you travel alone, it’s sometimes hard to find the motivation and ‘healthy pressure’ that you need to be productive and focused. Therefore, finding someone, or even a group of people, that can help you do that and hold you accountable is a good way to become more productive.
For example, I’m currently working on a book, but I find it extremely difficult to find the time to work on it. I met some girls while in Koh Lanta and one of them suggested that we start a ‘Write Club’: Every Tuesday and Thursday we sit together and work on our books. Even if we are not in the same country, we still have a virtual meet up and take that time to write. It’s a really great method to focus on one project, because you know that other people are doing the same. Basically, it’s a kind of peer pressure, but one that you can use to your advantage.
3. Take regular breaks to free your mind
Taking a break from work every hour or should not be considered as lazy – on the contrary, it is actually very much beneficial for your brain. When your mind rests, it gains new perspectives and fresh ideas, so letting your mind wander once in a while is essential to being creative. It also gives you a moment to reflect on certain things, allowing your mind to rest for a bit before it needs to focus again.
It’s just like the saying ‘Sleep on it’: Mostly when you ‘sleep on it’, the next morning you will have gained new ideas about how to approach problems that you have encountered the day before. And taking regular breaks is the same idea.
I do want to stress that when taking a break you should not do anything, except perhaps take a walk or sit in the park for a while. Don’t check your phone or watch a Youtube video; this doesn’t count as ‘rest’ for your brain. You should basically do nothing and let your mind wander. Meditation has a similar objective, in that it requires you to free your mind.
4. Find out when you are most productive
Some people are most productive in the morning, others late in the evening. Find out what kind of person you are and organize your working schedule accordingly. As a remote worker, you have the benefit of choosing your hours (most of the time), and you should take advantage of that.
5. Pomodoro technique with ‘rewards’
What usually helps me to focus is setting a small reward that I can have or do after I finished the task, or worked for a certain amount of time. Rewards can include anything from chocolate (but not too much!) to reading an article that interests you or watching that new Youtube video from your favorite channel.
For instance, I would set myself a goal to work for 45 minutes without any distractions, and after, I will reward myself by getting a coffee and checking my Instagram feed. After all, we should cherish the small things in life 😉
6. Form a habit
Humans are creatures of habits, and so, creating a schedule for work and making a habit out of it is often the best way to stay productive. Even if you have an irregular schedule as you are traveling around and sometimes have a whole day of traveling, that’s okay: as long as you stick to your schedule for the majority of your days, it’s fine to have some outliers here and there.
I hope these tips have been somewhat useful for you 🙂 In case you have any other tips or suggestions, post a comment in the comment section below! We would love to hear from you!