My No. 1 Productivity Hack for Digital Nomads

by | Mar 14, 2024 | 1 comment

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Do I work too hard? Do I live it up too hard? All too familiar questions that tend to run through the mind of a remote worker or digital nomad. Yours, too, I’m certain. Truth is, time management hacks for workers, even entrepreneurs that are living in one and the same place and timezone, don’t really work for travelers, do they? Productivity tips for digital nomads are in order. I’ve recently found my personal NUMBER 1 productivity hack that has completely changed my productivity, quality of output, AND amount of time I have to explore the places I travel to. 

But that one productivity hack is built upon a few other things I do mindset and strategy-wise, first. So let’s get into it. Read through to find out what my number one productivity hack is that has changed the output of my work from the ground up. 

productivity hacks for digital nomads

permission to take time off: to retreat, travel, and reflect

I bet you didn’t expect this to be the first productivity hack for digital nomads, did you? After all, don’t we have a bad rep for partying too hard and working too little? Well, if that was the identity we took on, we’d be in trouble. Instead, the first thing I want you to do is embrace the identity and the benefits of traveling AND working for yourself. 

Notice when you require time off BECAUSE of your lifestyle. How many days do you need to take off right before and after you change countries? How does this affect your client or posting schedule? I know this blog post won’t go out on the usual Monday…because I travel! 

What about weekend get-aways? Do you take them? When you work for yourself, it’s both a freedom and a requirement to take good time off from work. Schedule that next vacation right now. 

Finally, you will also want to create ample time to reflect as this is a powerful part of working hard. For example, you could spend 5 minutes at the end of every day, 30 minutes every end of the week, and an hour at the end of every month in reflection on the hours/days/weeks past: What went well? What wins did you have? How did you overcome challenges? What working hours worked best for you? 

In scheduling time off to vacation, travel, and reflect, you will enable yourself to create your own, most tailored hacks and working hours. 

KEEP daily routines the same

No matter where you are, or which timezone you’re in, maintain your routines. When I first started traveling, I was rigid about maintaining my morning routine to be exactly the same because I knew it would help me settle into the new environment more quickly. While I’ve since loosened up a bit around it, I now also realize that doing this turned out to be a super powerful productivity hack for digital nomads. 

Granted, if you’re having regular client calls, morning routines in certain timezones might have to make way for clients calls. I know that used to be the case for me quite often. But even then, I’d be sure to get a 30 minute workout in right before, and schedule time for meditation and breakfast right after. You’ll want to be somewhat flexible with your routine. 

That said, try and think of your morning as sacred, as the part of your day that will not only set you up for a productive day, but also as the part when you’re most attuned to your intuition. As you travel, how can you protect your mornings? 

Figuring this out BEFORE you schedule meetings for the next four destinations will be a game-changer for your productivity as a digital nomad. Personally, I engage in a few spiritual practices throughout the morning as well as before bed. If you’re curious how I maintain them while traveling, check out this blog post next.

create a portable, physically healthy, workstation

Oh, do I miss my ergonomic desk stool and standing desk! That desk weighed a good 70 pounds and I wasn’t gonna sacrifice my coffee maker, pillow, and jewelry to make room in my suitcase for a desk. BUT, I have spent significant space, money, and weight on acquiring a workstation that fits inside my suitcase. 

The reason I suggest you invest in a workstation as a productivity hack for digital nomads is two-fold. First of all, you want to be kind to your back and not all desks that hosts around the world provide you with will have been purchased with your back in mind. So you want to be in control of the things you can control. Second of all, I’ve found that having the setup that works for shortcuts and my body actually boosts my productivity by a LOT. 

Here is what I travel with. While I have a MacBook, you can get all the equivalent things for PC as well. 

  • An external Magic Trackpad and Keyboard. Make sure you get a keyboard that fits inside your daily backpack for Café and coworking visits. You could get the Magic Mouse but I’ve found the trackpad to be easier on my wrist and better for swipe shortcuts. Its precision is impeccable.
  • A foldable, light, laptop stand. While Apple offers some great options, neither of them are foldable and all of them are heavy. With a weight of 1.2 pounds, this one is the winner for me. It comes in a black sleeve and is adjustable for two different levels of laptop thickness. It carries my MacBook Pro which isn’t the lightest of laptops. Most of all, it folds down so small I can put it in my backpack. It’s entirely elevated my neck pain as it allows me to look straight at the laptop, regardless of the desk and chair a host has provided me with.
  • If you need prescription glasses, go get yourself a pair with bluelight filters in them. It’s totally worth the investment. Since I’ve acquired my pair, my eyes not longer get tired and I no longer need to switch to a higher prescription every two years. Many insurances know this and will cover the costs. 

There you have it. Setting your body up for health is such an overlooked productivity hack for digital nomads. It’s not all in your mind and laptop. Most of it is actually in your back, your spine, the way you sit, your neck, your wrists…you get the idea. 

And now for the big reveal of my ultimate hack…..:::::::

manage your projects and goals by destination

And here it comes: the ULTIMATE productivity hack for digital nomads! Organize your projects, your goals, and your todos not around quarterly goals, but around destination goals. If you start doing this, I guarantee, you’ll begin to grow your online business multifold within no time. Why is this so genius? Let’s unpack it. 

Much like 9-5, annual reviews, weekly reports, etc., quarterly goals are mostly arbitrary, aren’t they? So is an annual plan, but at least that’s a somewhat of a reasonably midterm timeframe to align your goals to growth. As with many things for digital nomads, the traditional way of doing business, communicating, and managing your project timelines doesn’t work for you. That’s where destination goals come in. Having a goal attached to your destination will make no “traditional business” sense. However, it will jumpstart your motivation and help you become more efficient in the time you allocate to work…and increase the time you GET to allocate to fun. You’ll see a clear goal ahead of you:

By the time I board the plane to Thailand, I want to have X completed and be ready to tackle Y once settled in Thailand.

How you can make this hack your own:

Now, personally, I tend to move around only every 2 to 3 months. You might not travel as slowly as I do. Maybe you move places every few weeks or so. Perhaps, you stay in one place for 6 months, or don’t even know where you’re going to next, and when. No worries, I’ve got you covered. I promise this method is 100% customizable to your lifestyle. There are two questions you want to answer: 

  • What is your main goal for the next 12 months and which 3 main projects will support you in achieving this goal? (12 months is common but arbitrary. Pick a >9 month frame that makes sense for you). 
  • What is YOUR ideal mental and physical environment to get work done both efficiently and of the highest quality? 

Now, you may be thinking to yourself: “Gee, this girl asks some big questions. How do I know?” 

To which I’ll reply: “Damn right, big questions lead to insightful answers which lead to big success. Plus, I’ve got you covered, AGAIN.” 

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If you’re serious about taking your productivity and business to the next level, download a free copy of my ebook NOW to help you with the above two questions. This 20 page book will guide you, step by step, through the process I and my clients use to develop and go after purpose-aligned goals. Download it here.

Once you’re clear on these two questions, you’ll want to carve out some time to project manage and create timelines that make sense for A) your workstyle and lifestyle, and B) your goals and business projects. If you’re not sure you’re getting this right, feel free to drop a comment or email me directly. Happy to look over your plans and give feedback. 

concluding

Finding a way to hack your own productivity without losing any of the perks of the digital nomad lifestyle is something so crucial to growing your business in a purpose-aligned way. This isn’t just so that you can hang by the beach more often. Getting clear on what works for YOU and your business and honing in on becoming more effective and efficient is KEY to building and growing a business that is aligned with your purpose, your definition of freedom, and your idea of success. Go get ’em! Let me know which hack you will implement right away.

P.S Choosing your destination with intention can be another game changer to your productivity. It’s something quite important to how I experience life, so I wrote a whole article about how you, too, could go about choosing your next digital nomad destination for your soul and business to thrive. Read along here.

1 Comment

  1. Julien

    Thank you Dina-Mary, couldn’t agree more. What works so much for me is to take some time off. I tend to have moments when I work a lot and there are so much evolutions in what I do and sometimes I loose track of things. That’s when I need to slow down, meditate, take some time off for things to go smooth again.
    Also the routine is very important and works a lot for me even if it’s not always easy to commit when you start a new practice but the more you do it, the easier it gets and then it becomes part of a routine.

    Reply

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