This is a post from my friend Jay who’s also new to this whole digital nomad thing. Today he shares with us what a day in the life of a digital nomad is like. You may be surprised by what you learn. Take it away, Jay!
Sunbathing on the beach, sipping Pina Coladas, watching the sea lap at the sand with some friends. This might be the image many of you have of what a digital nomad’s lifestyle looks like.
Let me be the first to tell you, that’s not exactly how it works. I know I hear you…
“Say it ain’t so!”
I know we may wish that a day in the life of a digital nomad looked like that. For many, it’s more likely you’ll be experiencing coffee shops, poor wifi reception, and some cute foreign lady trying to sell you mango sticky rice at the traffic lights.
To help shed some light on what happens beyond the Thailand border, I’ve teamed up with the Grateful Gypsies duo to write this article on what I get up to every day as a Digital Nomad.
What Kind of Nomad Am I?
A pretty laid-back one, that’s for sure. My names Jay and I’m a freelance writer and digital marketer.
My journey started off back in September 2017 when I decided to quit my job to travel the world, so my experiences as a nomad are unquestionably very new. I’ve been experimenting and figuring out what it means to be a digital nomad, and honestly, it’s not all smiles and rainbows.
I’ve had some hard times, where I’ve felt overwhelmed, and some incredible times when I’ve felt like I’ve conquered the world. What I can say with absolute confidence, is becoming a digital nomad has been an incredible experience and I’m here to stay.
I’m primarily a freelance writer, that’s where I make most of my income. I also blog all about lifestyle business and help other aspiring bloggers to take the first steps.
The Planning Process
I’ve spoken to many Digital Nomads and it seems the same stories always come up. When you plan out your days, you are much more organized.
When I start my week, I make plans based on my location, what work I need to complete, and what projects I’m working towards. Planning is crucial otherwise you can find that your time runs away with you and your work productivity is low.
I try to batch tasks together, so as to make the process a lot more efficient.
Batching, derived from the famous baking term (#cookies) means to complete a lot of one task, in one go. So instead of every day going onto Instagram and producing a post, and then getting distracted, you dedicate some time to batch the next 7-14 days’ worth of Instagram posts.
Batching allows you to focus, get tasks completed quicker, and stops multitasking. I always used to think that multitasking was the key to productivity.
It turns out multitasking is the procrastination devil in disguise. Multitasking saps your focus, time, and energy.It turns out multitasking is the procrastination devil in disguise. Multitasking saps your focus, time, and energy. Click To Tweet
I try to plan out my whole month on the 1st and try and decide what content I need to produce, and come up with a plan.
Have Set Days For Tasks
Instead of writing out a new list of tasks you want to complete every day, I created a structure that meant on certain days I complete a certain type of work. Similar to batching this allows me to produce similar types of work all on the same day.
I use a handy app called Wunderlist to keep a list of the different types of work I complete on certain days. This means every time I think of something new I need to do, I can put it into Wunderlist and then execute that task on a consistent day. It even lets you add notes, reminders, pictures, and alerts.
I have five categories I split my work into:
• Deep Work Blog – This is where I try to batch blog posts, upload pictures, and videos to my blog and input my written work into the WordPress editor, and format it.
• Deep Work Freelance – This is where I focus on batching freelance writing work to get as much done as possible. I usually find that I do at least one freelance article a day on average, but will assign a single day to get through 3-4 articles in one go to help me get ahead of article production.
• Admin – Even the boring stuff needs addressing sometimes. I tend to allocate around half a day to admin work which includes going through email, updating income and outgoings, necessary documentation, and updating my accountant.
• Media, Growth, and Promotion -I dedicated this list to creating content like Pinterest images, videos, promoting my content across social media, and outreach programs to grow my following.
• Education and Brand Building – This list is where I focus on education, which can be courses, learning a new skill, and also brand building. Building a brand is crucial to helping a digital nomad business grow, and I spend this time planning brand growth tactics.
A Regular Day of the Nomad
Different Digital Nomads may have different routines but here is what mine usually looks like:
Early Morning Wake Up & Exercise
My regular day typically consists of waking up early (providing I haven’t been out the night before). I like to try and wake up at 7:00 am-7:30 am and start the day with some exercise. I either go out for a jog or complete some push-ups, I’ve been working on a program to build up to achieving 100 push-ups in one go (currently at 50).
The exercise helps to get the blood flowing, and I always feel more productive after exercise.
Breakfast & The Sweet-Ass Journal
After that, I grab some breakfast and fill out my Sweet Ass Journal. The Journal helps me to focus on what makes me happy, what I’m thankful for. It also gets my mind flowing as I write a list of ideas about a new topic in it every morning, and crucially it outlines my two goals for the day.
I set just two goals to complete in the journal, that help me work towards my bigger 100-day goals. This is super productive. Rather than trying to work through a big list and never get to the bottom, I can set two meaningful actions to take which help me feel productive.
Everything else I complete after that is just a bonus!
Cafe or Co-Working Space to Get to Work
Once I’m all full of breakfast and I’ve completed my journal I head to a cafe around 8 am, then I decide what I’m going to work on. Usually, I’ll have planned what work I was going to complete.
Today, for example, I completed a freelance writing post about WordPress sites, emailed an Instagram Influencer I’ll be working with a collaboration pitch, completed a guest post for another website, and am now working on this guest post for the Grateful Gypsies.
I’ll usually work in the Cafe for around 3-4 hours depending on motivation levels and what else is going on (and how hungry I am!). Wake-up Cafe is where I work from usually in Chiang Mai, and you get 4 hours of free high-speed wifi for every 50 Thai Baht spent. For me, that’s usually a smoothie or a coffee.
Lunchtime & Some Me Time
Once I hit lunchtime, I’ll take a break and head out to grab some food. Depending on what’s happening socially at this stage I might decide to head back to the hostel to get involved with some activities with other guests, grab a massage or just go for a wander around the town I’m in.
Some days when I have more work to do or I’m feeling motivated I’ll head back to the cafe and get more work done, but the average amount of time I tend to spend working depends on what’s going on in my life.
Right now, I’m spending 8-10 hours a week freelance writing and spending about 20 hours on top of that getting ready for the 30-Day Instagram Challenge which just launched!
Evening and Beyond
When it comes to getting back to the hostel after a day of work, one of a few things tends to happen. Either I’ll get a quick plan together for the next day on what I need to accomplish and make a note of it in my journal, sometimes I save this to the evening.
Or I’ll see what’s happening in the evening, the great thing about being a Digital Nomad is the exposure you get to some amazing countries and cultures. The whole point of operating a lifestyle business is so that you can enjoy yourself and experience some amazing culture.
My evenings get filled with everything from yoga classes, rooftop bars, pool parties, pub crawls, cabaret shows, open-mic nights, Broadway performances, basketball games, and much more.
Final Thoughts on the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
For me being a digital nomad is about balance. Sometimes when you are starting out, you need to put a lot of time and energy into your projects. Right now, I’m at one of the stages in my business where I’m putting in a lot of extra work.
The great news? At the end of it, you are rewarded for your hard work, and you can enjoy everything you want out of life. One of my biggest pursuits while traveling right now is to learn new skills.
Learning skills creates an interesting environment for me where I’m challenging myself, learning new hobbies and growing as a person.
Thank you for reading, and I encourage any of you who want to learn more about becoming a Digital Nomad to reach out to Sasha, Rachel, or myself to learn how you can take the first steps to become a Digital Nomad.
Bio: Jamie Atkinson is a freelance writer and digital marketer who has over ten years of experience coaching, selling, and training in the field. He was born in the UK but now travels all over the world, teaching other aspiring entrepreneurs how to achieve their own success by sharing the benefits of having a lifestyle business.
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