Every remote worker can tell you that time management is essential for being productive and getting work done at home. However, time management looks a bit different for digital nomads. Along with scheduling meetings, working on projects, and growing a business, digital nomads also have to make time to explore their surroundings and account for travel time.
Most digital nomads have the luxury of working whenever they want, which is a wonderful freedom to have. But this comes with the responsibility of managing your time to meet deadlines and avoid procrastinating on projects and assignments.
I’ve put together some helpful time management tips for digital nomads, so you can enjoy living a nomadic life while still working and being productive.
Why is Time Management Important for Digital Nomads?
One of the most popular reasons people become digital nomads is the freedom to work where they want when they want. Many achieve this through various digital nomad job types, such as a freelancer or business owner. However, this means being responsible for your own timelines and schedules.
You must earn the luxury to live the digital nomad lifestyle. With all of this freedom, you must be self-disciplined and actually complete the projects and tasks that will earn your income.
If you don’t meet your deadlines, work on improving or scaling your business, or take your job seriously, you’ll soon find yourself struggling to make an income remotely and may have to end your lifestyle of full-time travel earlier than expected.
One way to help you avoid ever being forced to face this decision is to build effective time management skills. With these skills, you’ll stay on top of your work and even spend less time working while earning more money.
Effective Time Management Techniques for Digital Nomads
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why time management is so important for those living a life of digital nomadism. Honestly, your entire lifestyle depends on your time management!
To get the most out of your days and decrease your stress levels to find a balance between work and play, try some of these effective time management techniques.
To be self-disciplined is one of the hardest things in the world to accomplish. There are no other factors besides your own motivation and determination. When you practice and master self-discipline, you’ll find that you accomplish more goals, both big and small, and live a more productive life.
When it comes to working, rather than brushing it off and waiting to do it until the last minute, sit down at your computer and just get it done. Once you’ve completed a task, you don’t have to worry about it anymore!
The moment that you can successfully say that you are going to do something that you don’t particularly care to do at that moment is when you have achieved self-discipline.
This is a core trait you must master in order to fully achieve effective time management skills. Not only will self-discipline help you professionally, but it will improve other aspects of your life as well.
Finding a routine that works for you is an absolute life-changer. When you figure out how to complete a number of daily tasks in a method where you don’t have to think about what you’re doing, you’ll have more energy to spend on more important aspects of your day.
For example, you should have a morning routine that sets you up for success during the rest of your day. This can (and should) include waking up at the same time every morning, organizing your thoughts, moving your body, and eating breakfast. Some people choose to meditate and journal, while others stretch on their travel yoga mats during this time.
Now, you’re probably wondering what a morning routine has to do with time management. Firstly, it ensures you wake up at a decent hour each day, so you have time to spend working without wasting the day away. Secondly, it sets the mood and energy for the rest of your day to be productive and efficient.
Routines aren’t just for your morning. You can create routines for practically everything you do, including your job. Say you run an online business. It takes a lot of work, and you most likely wear a lot of different hats. So, create routines for when you complete specific groups of tasks you must do daily or weekly. Whether it’s a routine for answering emails, scheduling social media, or checking orders, creating systems where you don’t have to overthink about what you’re doing can help you effectively manage your time.
Set Specific Working Hours
There’s a time for relaxing and exploring, and then there’s a time to sit down and make some money. Scheduling specific working hours each day (or whenever you want to work) can help you increase productivity and manage your time better.
If you set aside five hours each day to sit on your computer and complete the day’s tasks, then you are more likely to get everything done within this time frame as opposed to freely working whenever you want. When you put this time restriction on yourself, there is more pressure to focus and finish your tasks.
Setting specific working hours also allows you to create an environment where you only focus on working. There are no other distractions or things you feel like you should be doing instead. When you sit down at your desk or in a cafe, you know this time is specifically to work on the tasks you have and nothing else.
Prioritize Your To-Do List
One of the best tools to be productive is a to-do list. Wake up each morning and create a list of everything you would like to accomplish that day. This is a great task to include in your morning routine.
Once you’ve created your list, prioritize your tasks from most important and difficult to the least important and easiest to accomplish. From this, you know which tasks to focus on first. You’ll spend less time working on tasks that can wait and more time completing more important projects.
Tools such as Todoist and Notion are helpful to stay organized and always have your list with you. Or you can do it old school, like me, and simply keep a notebook with all of your to-do lists. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing off a task once it’s finished.
Start with the Hardest Task First
While we’re on the topic of prioritizing your to-do list, I want to touch on one digital nomad time management technique that I find super helpful. Start by completing the hardest task for the day. The rest of your day will seem easy and you’ll breeze through it if you practice this.
Procrastination is the killer of time management. We put off completing tasks that we don’t necessarily look forward to doing. No matter the reason for procrastinating, it causes more stress and inhibits our efforts to manage our time wisely. All day long you’ll spend your energy thinking about that task you have to do. If you finish it before everything else you have to do that day, you won’t have to think about it anymore and can focus on other aspects of your digital nomad job and exciting life.
One way I overcome my procrastination as a freelance writer is to mentally prepare myself to complete the task the night before. When I go to sleep, I think about the difficult assignment or project I have to do the next day. If it’s an article I’ve been dreading to write, then I think about the topic and how I’ll organize the outline. It’s usually during this time that I find some inspiration and realize the task isn’t as difficult as I first thought. This also tricks my brain into thinking I’m procrastinating the task because it’s on my mind and I know that I have to do it.
Set Deadlines and Reminders
Some digital nomads hit the ground running when they receive a new task or project from a client. However, starting a new task the minute it’s assigned can cause you to lose sight of more important projects.
One easy way to have better time management is to set deadlines and schedule your projects. This will help you prioritize which assignments need your attention first and for the longest time as well as organize your time better.
You can dedicate an entire day to finishing one project or break it up over a few days. It’s important to find what works best for you. Some people need to stay in the zone when working on something, while others can walk away and come back to it another day.
To ensure you never miss a deadline, create events in your calendar and set reminders. If a project or task slips under the rug, you’ll receive a reminder so you can get it done in time.
Plan Your Week on Sundays
Just like a morning routine sets the mood for your day, planning your tasks for the week on Sunday can set the mood for your week. If you’ve taken the advice from above and already scheduled deadlines for projects, it will be easy to plan your week.
Take a look at approaching due dates and plan when you will work on those projects. You’ll be able to schedule which tasks you work on specific days of the week. You also know what to expect from your upcoming week and mentally prepare yourself to take it all on.
It’s also a great opportunity to see other commitments and plans you have coming up so you can plan your work accordingly. If on Tuesday you are busy running around doing things like grocery shopping or attending a digital nomad meetup, then you should plan on getting less work done that day.
Time Blocking Method: Schedule Daily Tasks
If you’re anything like me and love to organize your day and create effective routines, then the time blocking technique will change your life. Time blocking is scheduling your tasks throughout the day for as long as you think it will take you to complete them. You’ll have a start time and an end time to complete the task.
I might be a bit excessive, but I plan my entire day like this, including my morning routines, eating lunch, and when I’ll take time for myself. On Sunday evenings, this is how I schedule my week and know what I’m working on when.
Now, you can’t take this time blocking schedule too seriously. Life happens and things come up that will delay some things or tasks may take you longer than expected. This is a rough estimate of how you want your day to look and what you want to finish.
Usually, I leave empty slots on Thursday and Friday for overflow work or rush projects that come up. It’s always a good idea to leave some flexibility or else you set yourself up for failure.
This digital nomad time management technique isn’t for everyone, but I do encourage you to try it for yourself and see how it works. Here is a template spreadsheet for you to use to time block your week and enhance your time management.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
While the Pomodoro Technique is more effective in helping you stay productive, it’s a great addition to your time management. When you sit down during your designated working hours to complete your tasks, try this effective and innovative method.
Created by author and developer Francesco Cirillo in the 1990s, the Pomodoro Technique consists of 25 minutes of working known as sprints and 5-minute breaks afterward. You’ll repeat this process four times, after which you can take a 30-minute break.
This technique limits distractions and keeps you focused on the task at hand. Studies have shown that humans have an optimal focus span of just about 20 minutes. So, the Pomodoro Technique uses this biology to help us be our most productive.
When using the time you have managed to put aside to work on your tasks and projects, you want to get the most out of it, right? The best way to do this is to limit all other distractions while you work.
I know, it’s easy to pick up your phone when you see the screen light up with a notification and fall down the rabbit hole of social apps and news feeds. This is so detrimental to time management and productivity, though.
Instead, use apps like Freedom to turn off notifications on both your phone and laptop while you work. You can also simply put your phone in another room on Do Not Disturb mode so you don’t see or hear notifications.
Believe me, I’m also guilty of letting my phone get the best of my time. Just know that your notifications will still be there in half an hour. There is nothing extremely urgent that is going to happen while you’re working that can’t wait a few minutes.
Account for Travel Time
Some digital nomads enjoy staying in a city for a few weeks, while others like to move around every few days. No matter what type of nomad lifestyle you live, you should always take travel time into account when managing your time.
Many nomads will claim that they’ll work while in transit, whether it’s on a bus, train, or plane. I know I’m guilty of saying it. But the reality is that it’s hard to concentrate on your work when you’re crammed into a small seat next to a stranger who may or may not constantly look over at your computer screen.
When you do travel, account for delays, wifi interruptions, and time to settle into a new place. The last thing you’ll want to do is open your computer and get to work the minute you put your bag down.
These are all factors that you must consider when it comes to time management.
Increase Your Overall Productivity to Earn More and Work Less
Are you ready to see your digital nomad lifestyle become more productive with better time management? Try these effective techniques and see how your working habits transform.
You’ll become more organized and feel more in control of your time. No longer will you feel like the day is getting away from you or that there aren’t enough hours to get your work done. With these time management tips, you’ll find yourself living your best and most productive life.
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