It’s been 7 weeks working as digital nomads on Tripmasher and in that time we have incorporated small changes that have seen our productivity levels improve.

To mark 7 weeks, here are our 7 tips to stay motivated and improve your productivity.

1. Don’t be afraid of creating a routine 

Productivity and routine - screaming woman

The dreaded ‘R’ word. Didn’t we start on this digital nomad business to get away from the routine?

If you remember my inaugural post on the first 72 hours in Thailand, you will recall I would spend half a day on shopping chores. It was the early days and we had no pattern. Things would get done when they needed to. It didn’t work. As much as life on the road as a digital nomad is about getting out of a routine, there is a way of incorporating clear ideas about your most productive pattern for your day. If you work best in the morning, then plan your most difficult or challenging work then. If you like to cook, but have a tendency (like me) to research every recipe to the nth degree, then organise a time to get your meals prepared for the next couple of days. If you need 8 hours sleep a day, then get it. Set a time limit and stick to it.

2. To do lists to get organised

What’s that saying about piss poor performance and planning?

Whichever way you like to acknowledge pressing, medium and long-term project deadlines, write them out. When planning for the trip we were all about the butcher’s paper and post-it notes working with a 3 month schedule. It was great as a couple we could see what needed to be done. Now as we work on our own areas we have moved to personal organisers like Trello. Here’s one we made earlier:

Productivity with Trello

3. Take days off  because you deserve it

When you are working for yourself, every moment can be dedicated to the business.

Whoever said that that not working for the man gives you freedom told a little fib. Yes, you have freedom in other ways, but you also have all the pressure. The steady onslaught of realisations that you are not skilled in a host of areas that make up the business. It can be overwhelming.

So cut yourself some slack and take a break. I know it’s not always feasible with client deadlines, but as part of your mapping out of projects, map in days (or even hours) where you can get away from your ‘office’ environment and do something completely unrelated to work. Yesterday we went to the beach, got some new threads for Rich and welcomed the respite from ‘screen time’.

Patong beach

4. Meditate and set yourself up for the day

I have talked about meditating in the couples post. Trust me I’m no new age fanatic, but I have found measurable benefits with starting the day with 10-20minutes of guided mediation. It’s the time to turn off my monkey mind and let my body and breathing adjust to a new day. It helps me clear away the failures (and successes) of the previous day. It’s a productive reset and whilst it takes time out initially, I think it makes you more productive and focused throughout the day.

Oscar Neimeyer walkway in Brazil

5. Get some exercise

As smokers, drinkers and degustation-type eaters, you might be scoffing about this one. But hey we all can be a little surprising! This is part of our daily morning routine. We hit the treadmill and learn about entrepreneurial things (Rich) or listen to Hamish and Andy podcasts (me). The gym going has been an interesting one as we find the right rhythm for us, but also try and get to the apartment gym when the strange fellow who likes to run in his speedos with the doors open on a 31degree day, leaving a puddle of his former self behind.

It doesn’t have to be the gym. Get to the park, walk the dog, chase the cat. Make a cup of tea and walk around the block and steal cuttings from neighbours plants (one from my mum!) Start moving a little bit and you will find better energy levels and sleep quality which is important when often your mind is racing with things that you have to do.

swimming in Paraty

6. Social media blackout

Thailand is 3 hours behind friends and family in the central and east coast Australia. It’s 6 hours ahead of friends and happenings in Europe, 11 hours ahead of what travelling buddies in the Americas are up to and only a 90minute helicopter ride from Bronwyn B’s next tax-payer rort. Okay that’s unfair, I should include New Zealand in the above too. What I’m trying to say is that there is always going to be activity taking place and I like to see what’s happening with our entire global buddy circle, so I log in 3 times a day and set a time to interact. It means I’m not distracted with notifications (I know you can turn them off), but I can sense them! Here’s a penguin for those in-between moments:

Chinstrap penguin Antarctica

7. Make time to meet with people – it helps you get dressed

I read a great article about the realities of working from home and when you may have last washed or changed out of your clothes. This is where the morning gym thing helps, because you will always shower afterwards and then don some clean clothes. But say you let things slide for a fews days and I’m definitely not shy of couch-living. If I could earn a living watching Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs, researching tree houses and eating wasabi peas, I would.

Schedule in time to catch up with people. It helps with having a break out of your work space, but gives you reason to get your personal grooming in order. Even if you are like us and in another country, setting up some ‘facetime’ helps. At the very least the top half of you gets sorted. Thanks Steph for making the visit and what a way to spend it at a pool bar!

pool party in Phuket

These are a few things we have incorporated into our lives to help find optimal ways of working from our base as digital nomads.

Finally, not so much a tip, but a mindset. Enjoy it. Even though I often find myself completely baffled by the next thing on my list, I’m learning, having fun and grateful to be able to have a go a creating this life abroad.

Working from the couch in the hills listening to Seekae and wanting wasabi peas.

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Ideas to improve your productivity as a digital nomad

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