5 Real-Life Lessons About Being a Digital Nomad
So you think you’re cut out for the life of the digital nomad, do you? Well, maybe you are. It can be a very rewarding lifestyle and one that allows you to get your work-life balance just right (in a way that a 9-5 office job never could). But if this is a path upon which you do wish to set yourself, you need to prepare yourself and make sure that it’s definitely the life for you. Here are five real-life lessons you’ll learn while working as a digital nomad.
1. You’ll find out how important human interaction is to you
If you live (or are traveling) alone and you’re working remotely, you might end up going the whole day without interacting with anybody else. Do you think you could do that? Even if you don’t become best friends with your co-workers in an office, you’ll probably share a few friendly social interactions with them throughout the day and that will make a lot of difference.
This is a lesson you’ll learn about yourself and I can’t tell you what you’ll discover. Either you can do it, or you can’t. Either way, things like Skype will help you stay connected with your friends, as conversations on there will give you some form of connection to co-workers/clients at all times.
Craving human company? Take time to explore the local area and make friends with friendly locals. Even just casual small talk can help you beat the nomad blues.
2. It’s still work
There’s a strange misconception about remote work. People seem to think that it’s just lazing around on the sofa, doing nothing at a coffee shop or just traveling around and checking in online every now and then. This is absolutely wrong. If you become a digital nomad, you’ll have to work just as hard as everybody else. In fact, there are probably some remote workers who work harder than some regular office based workers – it’s all down to the individual. Even if you love what you do — you will still have to motivate yourself in order to stay productive.
3. You’ll need a backup income
Most remote workers are going to be working in a freelance capacity (unless they’re part of a small percentage of lucky contracted remote employees.) As a freelancer, you’ll have a much lower level of job security and if things go really badly for the business you’re working for, you could find yourself without work at the drop of a hat. As such, you always need to keep looking for new ways to make money online — and it’s good to go for stuff that allows for a high level of independence like ecommerce, affiliate marketing, or blogging. Something like an easy dropshipping store could be a steady source of income alongside other bits of work you pick up.
Self-sufficiency is good, as it allows you to create a fresh supply of income, without the need to find clients. This is one lesson you don’t want to have to learn the hard way — a dried-up money well could spell the end of your noman lifestyle.
4. Self-management is key
If you don’t have any self-management skills, you will not be able to succeed as a digital nomad. How easy do you find it to work without someone breathing over you? Not so sure? You absolutely need to learn how to self-manage.
Here are a few things you might like to try doing to make sure you’re working efficiently:
- Work within set hours, like you would in an office, and don’t be tempted to slack on workspace cleanliness and personal hygiene (pajamas are NOT workwear)
- Set targets for the day, then make yourself work longer if you don’t reach them
- Think of ways to reward yourself for an especially hard day’s work
- Keep track of all your work as you go, rather than having to traipse through old correspondence when it’s time to put together your invoices
Honestly, self-management is a core entrepreneurial skillset. This is definitely one of the most important lessons to learn before getting into remote work.
5. You need backup workplaces
If you work from home every day, what would happen if the internet was down at your house for a few days? Or if the coffee place you do your work at went out of business? You need to be sure that you can work comfortably in a handful of different locations. This is especially true if you’re traveling while working – whenever you arrive in a new location, you need to quickly establish where will be a good workplace, and where will be a good backup workplace if things change.
There’s a small percentage who possess the fantastic ability to work anywhere and at any time – well done if you’re one of them. You were made for the digital nomad life. The rest of us might need a little bit more help from time to time... Make sure you have a good spread of choices and options, and don’t neglect the importance of proper desk support and comfort too.
If you’re sure that you’ve properly considered each of these points, then you may well be ready for the digital nomad life. Because as much hard work as there is involved in it, it’s not ALL hard work. Being a nomad gives you a great degree of freedom, which you can use to travel the world and meet new people. You can find cheap accommodation somewhere, continue to work from your new location, and fund trips indefinitely... (or until you decide it’s time to go home).
By Patrick Foster