Alexandre during his Web World Tour (SF – Chile – Sydney – Singapore)
Digital Nomadism is one of those concepts that really resonated with me as soon as I heard of it. I first read about it in the 4-Hour Workweek and immediately begun to learn more about it thanks to websites like Nomadlist. It made me realize that only a few people grasp how much you can do with internet & automation from virtually everywhere around the globe. Alexandre Du Sordet is one of them.
I met Alexandre through his Web World Tour project, Alexandre’s 6-month round-the-globe travel project to study and document startups ecosystems in every city he’d visit. When I heard about his initiative in February 2014, I reached out to him when he had already left Montreal. We still managed to collaborate on an interview about the entrepreneurial student association I was involved with and Montreal’s startup ecosystem.
The following post is a guest post by Alexandre on how to maximize the benefits of working while you travel.
Digital nomadism? Coworking? Worldwide startup ecosystem? Alex is your guy.
I am an entrepreneur at NewWaves.io — where we are exploring the new ways of working and living. I am also a freelancer (side job) working remotely. Right now I am in Lyon (France), but in January, I will be in Paris, and two weeks ago I was in Normandy. I am working from home, startups offices, coworking spaces or friend’s homes, etc. Besides that, as Ambroise mentioned, two years ago I did a world tour about startups – Web World Tour – where I was working and traveling as a digital nomad.
A digital nomad is someone working remotely (a freelancer, a remote worker or an entrepreneur…) and living a nomadic lifestyle. It is not so easy to mix traveling and working while staying productive but everyone can do it! It is mostly a question of motivation and stop being afraid! There are more and more people doing it and from every backgrounds or jobs: design, marketing, tech, web, writing, law, coaching, finance or even poker…
Indeed, nowadays you can handle pretty much everything remotely thanks to the Internet. You can share files, call or text someone, you can do video conferences, pay your taxes online (not in every country) and the things that can’t be done online can always be externalized. In this article, I’ll give you a few tips and tools to help you become and thrive as a nomad.
The huge benefits and risks of working remotely
There are a lot of advantages to working remotely while traveling:
- Use time zones to your advantage and to work while your customers or colleagues are sleeping and they will wake up with your work done: what a good way to make them happy!
- Fewer distractions from your colleagues: they will send you e-mails or slack messages rather than talk to you IRL (in real life). It is also easier to avoid a meeting because people tend to have fewer meetings by Skype than IRL!
- You will want to prove that you can to the same work being remote.
- A few distractions from your environment might be good: constantly switching environments is an opportunity for new ideas and inspirations.
- Meet new people and make friends that you would have unlikely talked to in your country… It will broadens your mind and possibilities.
- Enjoy the moments when you are alone to recharge your batteries and meditate. You could also use this time to read and to level up your skills or to increase your knowledge and general culture… Many possibilities to boost your proficiency at work.
- And the most important: discover new things like cultures and foods, go to amazing beaches or cities, learn new languages, learn scuba diving or kitesurfing…
You’ll say, “what’s the catch?”. Well, it is also difficult to work remotely as you might often be working alone or not in the best environment for yourself. Even more if that environment changes a lot. These are the main threats I face every day:
- Being distracted: if you are in a new town, it is easy to be distracted by all the new things to see and to do. You can also get distracted because you work on your computer without anyone watching you. So you easily waste too much time on Facebook or allow yourself a second episode of Game of Thrones whereas you should be working.
- Being lazy: nothing wrong with staying in your bed just a bit longer (that is what you say to yourself) when you have no fixed schedules… Or to take your time at lunch etc.
- Being alone or only making temporary friends and demoralizing yourself. Or not being able to discuss work issues with colleagues.
How to maximize those benefits and boost your productivity?
It may seem stupid to say so, but you have to find the right job! That is a job you like, that drives you every morning, etc. It will totally boost your motivation to work. And even if I think we should always do a job we like, it is even more important as a nomad or remote worker and especially since a freelancer — since you will have to attract customers.
You must also find the right place to work. That is the place where your work is more productive: at home (short stay apartments, Airbnb…), in coffee shops or slow coffees, in coworking places, in hotels, etc. The environment will be different, and some people prefer to work alone while others prefer to be in a lively place. If you go to coworking places, you will find an environment similar to offices and meet people (at least most of the time).
And of course, it is important for you to find the right working rhythm. That means how you like to work but especially when are you the most productive. Some people like to work early, some prefer working at night… Other prefer to work 3 hours straight and then go to do some sport or watch a movie before going back to work for 3 more hours etc. As you work remotely you don’t have any fixed working hours: enjoy this flexibility!
Learn how to juggle with work & pleasure
First, you must manage and organize your time, get a routine and habits. For example, our body is in better shape when we go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Do the same for your work: it will help you being more efficient. Of course, maybe some days you will have to adapt it! Organize your virtual desk: your folders and files, write correct titles to your files and do back-ups… Check the time-zone of the people your work with, especially if you do have meetings. Set-up daily and weekly objectives. You can also create a work schedule if it helps you. And you should at least add your meetings on a calendar. There are many tools for all that; I talk about them further on this article. It is also possible to create templates and canvasses to accelerate and facilitate some tasks: e-mail templates, article templates, PowerPoint and Word templates, sales prospection canvasses… All this is more important to do as a remote worker than a non-remote because it is way easier to get distracted or demotivated. This will help you not to.
When you are fully organized then you can start hacking yourself! So why scheduling up in the first place? Because you must not hack yourself all the time but only on a few occasions. It is important to sometimes break your routine and create uncertainties or unexpected things. It allows you to see things differently and fix a problem which has bothered you for a long time or to innovate etc. For example, you can try working from different places like once a week or every two weeks. You can use Facebook groups to know the best places or websites as Workfrom (https://workfrom.co/). You should also participate in events like conferences, meetups, workshops, afterworks or networking events. It will allow you to meet people and maybe talk about issues you have, to know where they work, how they work and their best practices… or just make new friends. It can also potentially be someone that could give you work if you are a Freelancer for example.
Some tools I use as a remote worker
- Instapaper is a good tool when you do monitoring and need to save articles to read later or to find them later. Raindrop is another more complete tool (you can create folders…).
- Wunderlist allows you to create tasks and to-do lists. If you work with a team, Asana or Trello might be more adapted.
- Evernote for your notes and documents. It allows you to access them very easily and to add tags etc. You can also save articles in it.
- Calendar 2 (for Mac) sync with all your others calendars (Google, Facebook events, Wunderlist…). It adds a top-bar icon to the Mac calendar with an easy popup access when you click on it.
- Slack for team communication or to join communities of digital nomads, entrepreneurs, etc.
- Skype, Hangout and WhatsApp to communicate with your team, customers or prospects.
- Drive, Box and Dropbox for sharing your files and folders: basics! My favorite is Drive because it is synchronized with Google docs, sheets, etc.
- Buffer to optimize your posts on social media.
- There are a lot of others; here is a complete list of useful tools.
So, just remember that everyone can become a remote worker or a digital nomad. You just need a bit of organization to work effectively wherever you go and to find your best way of working. Also be careful not to work too much and don’t forget to enjoy the country or place where you are staying — it happens a lot. Bon voyage!