Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Why work in one set office location, when the whole world is your oyster, and you could earn your living while waking up in a new exotic locale every other week, and mixing adventure with business as your default mode of living?
That’s the question that a large number of people have been asking in the last decade or so, and it’s a key reason why the “Digital Nomad” movement has become such an incredible phenomenon.
Of course, you tend to only hear about the positive aspects of taking your professional life onto the road. If you believe the social media presentation of this lifestyle, you’d think it was all about relaxing on the beach, and sipping espressos in artsy coffeehouses.
Of course, in reality, there are challenges to be overcome. You need to be able to handle a significant degree of uncertainty, turn in your work by the required deadlines, and maintain a good “big picture” perspective on things.
So, here are a few tips for sustainably working on the road as an entrepreneur.
Maintain an iron-tight grip on your budget
Money is obviously extremely important, for all of us, no matter where in the world we may be situated.
For people who are based in their home countries, however – and particularly if those home countries are affluent developed societies – there will typically be certain safety nets in place to prevent absolute catastrophe from befalling you if you experience a bit of financial trouble for a time.
For example – you could potentially move back in with your parents while you’re getting back on your feet, or you might be eligible for certain benefits from the government.
When you live your life permanently on the road, however, the entire dynamic is fundamentally different. If you run out of money, or can’t handle an urgent expense, you can find yourself in some incredibly dark and unforgiving circumstances, quite quickly.
For that reason, it’s important for the nomadic entrepreneur to maintain an iron tight grip on their budget and finances.
Make sure that you plan and account for every expense you might have, and certainly put away a good chunk of your income into emergency expense accounts and budget categories, so that you are never levelled and ruined by an unforeseen expense.
Often, we will tend to act somewhat impulsive or intuitive with our spending, and will do things “by feel” rather than “by intention.”
If you’re supporting yourself on the road, however, you’ve got to know exactly how much money you’ve got set aside for groceries that week, exactly how much you’ve got set aside for rent, and so on.
Keep up-to-date with the relevant local news, official statements, and developments
The fact that you’re living a nomadic lifestyle certainly doesn’t mean that you are exempt from the laws, social, or political systems that are at play in whichever country you are visiting.
The last thing you want to do is to find that you’ve made yourself a criminal by accident, or that you are caught in a tricky political situation because you didn’t know what was happening in the society you decided to spend time in.
In order to avoid these undesirable circumstances from arising, keep up-to-date with the relevant local news, official statements, and developments in whatever country it is you find yourself in that week.
If you were in the United Arab Emirates, for example, a message from Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi would be the kind of thing you should probably pay some attention to.
Often, the society you’re spending time in will have dedicated English news services that can be accessed online, and if not, then you can nonetheless input local news stories and proclamations into Google Translate, in order to get a decent idea of what’s happening.
Put as much of your income as you can afford into long-term savings, and buffer categories
This point has been addressed a bit earlier in the article already, but it bears emphasising the fact that, when on the road, you really have to depend on yourself first and foremost, and can’t assume that the good grace of the society you are visiting is going to see you through.
In order to ensure that you are as cushioned from potential trouble as possible, it’s important to put as much of your income as you can afford into long-term savings, and buffer categories.
You never know what kind of situation you’re going to find yourself in when you’re living as a Digital Nomad – and after all, that degree of uncertainty is part of the allure of the whole experience.
Of course, this can backfire quite dramatically. What if you have a medical emergency, for example, and find that you’ve got to pay a significant amount for the drugs you need, in the country you’re currently residing in?
Master time management, and develop systems and routines for filtering out distractions
Generally speaking, you can expect that every time you switch locations, you’re going to be exposing yourself to a whole new series of potential distractions, and a significant adjustment curve before you’re able to really feel “comfortable” and “in the zone.”
That can be a real problem when you’re trying to maintain productivity, and get work done on the road. So, in order to bypass this potential issue, it’s important that you establish systems and routines that will help you to filter out as many distractions as possible, in as efficient a manner as possible.
On the same note, it’s going to be necessary for you to try to counterbalance and offset the chaos of constant travel, by exercising a high degree of time management, and being completely on top of your own schedule.
Ideally, you’ll keep regular working hours, and will track how long you spend on various tasks.
Tools such as Toggl and Brain.FM may be useful here, but a traditional paper planner could work just as well. The key is that you find systems and routines that really work for you, and that you keep on top of things.