So many people spend so much time figuring out how to get paid to travel as a digital nomad, but then completely ignore another important question that comes up next:
How can you actually work productively as a digital nomad?
And, look, this is harder than you might think:
If you were working in a traditional office setting before becoming a digital nomad, then having the opportunity to work in your own style can be a fun and daunting experience.
Digital nomad life is fun because you can finally choose where, when, and how you work.
But it can also be daunting because all of the responsibility is on you to figure out how to be productive as a digital nomad.
So to help you squeeze more out of your “office hours” – and save more time for the beach – I’ve put together my 18 top productivity tips for digital nomads:
Ok, ready to roll? Let’s go:
18 Productivity Tips for Digital Nomads
1. Travel slowly
My first productivity tip for digital nomads is also what I think is most important:
When I first started my digital nomad journey, I was going to a new city or country every week.
I was working a full-time remote digital nomad job, and I quickly burnt out in a few months.
There’s just simply not enough time to work, visit new places, plan your next travel destination, and take the time to take care of yourself.
I know it’s exciting to check off all of the places that you’ve wanted to go to, but it’s more ideal for your long-term health to stay in one place for a while.
I would recommend at least 1 month, but I feel like most digital nomads would recommend at least 3 months in one place.
READ NEXT: Packing List for Digital Nomads
2. Create a work schedule/routine
Didn’t we transition to the digital nomad lifestyle to avoid the same ol’ day-to-day grind?
Yes, but now we get the option to make our own productive routines.
Routines help you stay productive and know what you should be doing next. Having schedules in place, like set office hours, will help you stay focused.
This isn’t the most exciting of the productivity tips while working online, but routines will save your sanity in the long-term.
READ NEXT: 25 Digital Nomad Job Boards and Websites
3. Use the “Deep Work” method
“Deep Work” is a book by Cal Newport on how to work more effectively.
Basically, if you want to focus better, then you need to remove all distractions from your workspace. The theory is that it will help you master complicated information and also become an expert in your craft.
There are different methods on how to build your focusing skills, and it all depends on your personal preferences.
First, remove all distractions. Leave your phone in a different room.
Second, set goals for your deep work session. What do you need to achieve in this time frame?
Then get to work. I personally set aside 4 hours of my day to have a deep work session, and I’m more productive this way. However, you may want to start slower and only have 1-hour deep work sessions.
4. Batch your work
One of the most popular productivity tips for digital nomads is the batching method.
Task batching is a time management system. The idea is that you do similar tasks together, and it helps your concentration and overall productivity.
For example, emails can get insane for a digital nomad. Checking emails multiple times per day may hinder your ability to focus on your project.
Instead, you may want to batch your emails in 2 sessions; once at the beginning of the day and a second time at the end of the day.
Set your timer for a certain amount of time, and then answer to as many emails as possible. This helps you stay focused and prevents distractions later in the day.
5. Use a project management tool
If you’re a freelancer or an entrepreneur, then you may want to consider organizing your business with a project management tool.
It can help a variety of things like planning and scheduling projects and delegate tasks.
It’s an effective way to keep track of what you’ve done and what you need to do to finish a project on time.
Some popular tools include Asana and Trello.
6. Track your time
Now I’m not suggesting you should always track every minute of your time like some kind of marketing agency.
However, if you find yourself at the end of the day with unfinished projects even though you’ve been working all day, then consider tracking your time. It’s one of the most effective productivity tips for digital nomads.
While you’re working, keep track of what you did every 30 minutes. This can help you figure out how you spend your time, and if you want to spend that much time on a task.
Did you really need to spend 2 hours engaging with potential clients on Instagram?
Then cut that out of your routine.
If yes, then consider hiring someone to do it for you and freeing up your time.
7. Find a workspace that works for you
Working from bed in your PJs sounds like a dream come true, but it’s not always the most effective workplace. (Although I’m definitely guilty of working from bed).
Since you no longer have dedicated office space from a traditional job, then you need to find out what your own version of an office.
If you like working from home, then make sure you have a desk and chair in the apartment/Airbnb/hostel you are working in.
If you enjoy working in cafes, then make sure you are choosing to stay in cities with a thriving coffee scene.
You may also choose coworking spaces as a way to get out of the house, but have a quiet place to focus and work.
The options are up to you on what makes you feel most inspired, and it’s one of the biggest perks of being a digital nomad.
READ NEXT: Is FlexJobs Worth It?
8. Use the Pomodoro technique
When it comes to productivity tips for digital nomads, the Pomodoro technique is my favorite.
It’s a time management tool and that I use every time I work. It helps me stay focused on the task I want to complete, and I can also keep track of how long it took me to finish.
The Pomodoro technique goes like this:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and pick one task to focus on
- Work on the task for 25 minutes
- Take a 5-minute break (Refill your water bottle, stretch your legs, anything that is relaxing)
- Then repeat the whole process 3 more times. Take a longer break (20-30 minutes) after finishing 4 Pomodoro rounds.
9. “Eat that frog” first
“Eat that frog” is as appetizing as it sounds (unless you’re into frog legs). The idea behind this productivity hack is that you do the most challenging task first.
Some people think this means the task that you are dreading the most (Client calls, anyone?), but it means to choose the task that will have the greatest impact first.
This is the task that if you don’t do it, then there will be some serious consequences down the road.
Once you eat the frog, then the rest of the day will go smoother because you will know that you did the most important thing on your to-do list.
10. Use the Kanban method
The Kanban method is a visual method to track your progress on projects.
Take a whiteboard (or a blank piece of paper and post-it notes. If you’re feeling techy then Trello is a good tool for this method).
Divide the whiteboard into 3 different sections and label them:
- The first section is your to-do list
- The second is your in-progress section
- The last section is for tasks completed.
Break down your to-do lists into small tasks and put them in the “To-Do” section of your Kanban whiteboard.
Then move the tasks along the board as you work and finish them. It’s a visual way to see what you need to work on and feel good about completing them.
11. Check out the Flowtime technique
The Flowtime technique is known as the Pomodoro alternative. If you find that the Pomodoro interrupts your flow, then you might like the Flowtime technique more.
You still choose one task to focus on during your work session.
But instead of setting a timer for 25 minutes, you start a stopwatch to track how long you were working on that task.
This enables you to work for shorter or longer periods and then taking a break when you need it.
12. Choose 3 “MIA” tasks for the day
“MIA” stands for Most Important Actions.
Similar to the “Eat That Frog” technique, you choose which 3 tasks are most important for you to finish that day.
If you struggle with the world’s longest to-do list, then this technique may help you.
It helps you focus on tasks that will have the most impact on you when you finish them. It helps you prioritize your day and eliminate tasks that can wait another day.
13. Do an end-of-the-day assessment
Probably one of the most important yet overlooked productivity tip for digital nomads is to evaluate your day.
It can help you find areas of improvement or what is successfully working for you.
Here are some things to ask yourself at the end of the day:
- What did I accomplish today?
- What didn’t I accomplish today? Why?
- What could I do better tomorrow?
- What went well today?
- What are my goals for tomorrow?
14. Deconstruct tasks
Have you ever really dreaded a project?
There’s just nothing that can convince you to start working on that project.
Sometimes the most important thing is to just *start*. Break down your project into smaller and more manageable tasks and go from there.
For example, let’s say you don’t want to go to the gym, but you know you should go. Instead of dreading a whole hour of spinning class, focus on the other steps you need to do before going to the gym.
Change into your gym clothes.
Get in the car.
Go to the gym.
Only focus on those small steps instead of what you are actually doing. Sure enough, you’ll end up at the gym doing your workout.
15. “Must, should, want” method
This productivity hack is similar to the Kanban method. Instead of tracking your progress, you measure the urgency of a task.
Take a piece of paper and create three columns. Label columns into “Must”, “Should”, and “Want”.
Now take out your to-do list and put them in the correlating columns.
Do you need to send out an invoice? Put it in the “must” column.
Do you want to try the new restaurant down the street? Put it in the “want” column.
You get the idea. Sorting out your tasks this way will show you what you need to work on.
16. Join virtual coworking sessions
If you’ve never heard of coworking sessions, then you are missing out. It’s one of my favorite productivity tips for digital nomads.
I use coworking sessions all the time as an incentive to work when I’m having a hard time motivating myself.
Basically, a group of people gets together on a video call and holds each other accountable to finish a task by the end of the coworking session.
It helps me focus, and I also get the chance to socialize with other digital nomads.
Focusmate is one option to start virtual coworking.
17. Remember to experiment with what works for you
There are a ton of productivity tips while working online here. I personally enjoy the following on how to be productive as a digital nomad:
- Pomodoro Technique
- Virtual Coworking Sessions
- “Deep Work” Sessions
Keep in mind though, what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. I recommend trying a few different styles to see what productivity techniques help you the most.
18. Always Keep Learning
No matter how productive you think you are, you can always improve.
That’s why it’s important to always keeping improving yourself and continuing your education.
Online courses are a great way to make that happen.
So there you have it: The most popular productivity tips for digital nomads are surprisingly simple and easy to put in practice.
You might have tried some of these before, but I would recommend trying them out again for your new digital nomad lifestyle.
Don’t be afraid to try out new productivity tips while working online. It probably took me a solid year to find what was most productive for me, and it’s been a great transition.
What are your favorite productivity tips for digital nomads?
Let us know in the comments!