Tag Archives: Digital Nomad Tips

The top 8 resources to make remote working a success

Productivity by Alien Frank

Productivity by Alien Frank

As you settle into the life of an remote worker, you will find that you experience many up’s and downs as you settle into your new lifestyle. The freedom is empowering, but the lack of co-workers can be a drain on your personal happiness (or you may even be secretly relieved). I’m going to cover the top methods and resources I use to make your life abroad a breeze, whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional.

  1. Rework: Office Not Required

Get your hands on a copy of this book. Written by the founders of 37signals, they delve into the challenges and unexpected benefits for working remotely. If you need help convincing your employer to let you break free from the 9-5, this book will give you the ideas to set it in motion, outlining precisely the steps you take in building a remote work setup.

  1. The right hardware

You need a laptop, a decent internet connection and a mobile phone that you always have on. Even though you are working “remote,” you need to be accessible at all times – especially when your boss needs to get hold of you. A separate workstation from the rest of your house will also help to keep you on task while you are working, and a great headset will make it easy to answer every Skype call that comes int.

  1. The right software

There are endless programs to assist during your telecommute. File sharing systems like Google Drive or Dropbox are great ways to share and simultaneously work on large files with your colleagues. Of course you need to regularly check your email, sign up for a free Skype account and ensure you are always online. If your clients are international, tools like The World Clock will let you schedule effective meetings in any time zone.

  1. A strategy to be productive

Decide what it takes to keep you on track. The biggest danger in working remotely comes from distractions. You are going to need to be even more productive than your “traditional” colleagues to maintain your remote lifestyle and grow your career. Find what works for you, it can be a post-it system plastered over your monitor, or more complex tools like Evernote or Wunderlist. Personally I write down everything I hope to achieve in a day in a notebook. I prioritize the list to determine my top four goals, and split these into two each morning and two each evening. I reward myself with a break in between tasks, or ensure I get 5-10 minutes away from my computer every hour if its a longer project. Simple and easy.

  1. Stay social

It may sound trivial, but you don’t want to find yourself distanced from the office “clique.” The people you interact with everyday at the water cooler form the foundation of your professional network. If you’re not in the office, don’t miss out on everything that goes on while you’re not there. Tools like Campfire, or WhatsApp and Line groups allow colleagues to stay connected (informally). You don’t want to fade into obscurity simply because your office is in your home.

  1. A regular way to “Get out of the house”

The lack of face-to-face social interaction when working remotely has a remarkable ability to turn a professional employee into an unshaven, unbathed neanderthal whose sole human interaction involves having the right change for the pizza delivery guy. Dont be this telecommuter. Get active in your community through Chambers of Commerce, MeetUp.com, or local sports groups and give yourself a reason to shower each day! Join a gym and ensure you get exercise three times a week. It will also help to balance your sanity and adds a nice change of scenery to your home office.

  1. Clear guidelines and milestones

Be open with your boss and colleagues on what it is you are working on. Keep them updated with regular progress reports, and ensure they know the timelines to expect tasks to be completed. Yammer is a great way for teams to keep up to date. It’s a common misconception that working from home involves tapping away at emails while your focus is on the daily TV soap opera’s. Don’t ever give your colleagues this impression. It only takes a quick morning call or message to outline your major tasks for the day alongside the progress you made yesterday. Bring your boss and your team up to speed every morning, and they will never doubt your diligence.

  1. A good work life balance

My final resource is more of a guideline. Remember the office should stay the office. This key fact is often forgotten by remote workers who put in a crazy amount of weekly hours because it’s so easy to log on and “just check my email”. Having your office in your home offers a huge risk for burnout, so set yourself a schedule and stick to it.

Make use of these resources and you will find that remote working is easier than ever. It’s not scary or impossible. All it takes is for you to take charge, and grab this fantastic opportunity for yourself.  

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Life Hacks, Technology, Tips and Tricks, Working Remotely

[VIDEO] Finding Your Tempo: Ensuring High Work Output While Traveling | Tips for Location Independence

Quite a few people seem to feel like getting to the point of being remote is the most difficult part. If you’re not yet there, that makes perfect sense. The trick afterwards is maintaining high work output while being location independent, whether that is working from a home office, on the road or literally on the move during travel days.

Traveling can be stressful, as can work days. In this video I share a few tips I’ve learned to ensure I have high output during my travel days and am able to do so with minimal stress on me and my family.

Practice makes perfect and I used to be pretty worthless, work-wise, on travel days. Then I got to a point where I was able to get a lot done, but was pretty stressed out and in some cases miserable in the process. I’m far from an expert at it, there’s always room for improvement, but these tips have helped me along the way and I’ve gotten a lot better at playing the game. I hope you like the video and if you do, please subscribe to the Remote Control youtube channel!

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Budgeting for Your Breakaway: How to Determine the Costs of Moving Abroad

The big cull: if it didn't fit into the back of the bike...it was sold!

The big cull: if it didn’t fit into the back of the bike…it was sold!

Budgeting for a big move is a prospect often fraught with angst. Whilst I agree it may well be the hardest thing you’ve ever done up until now…it need not be all that difficult. I’ll start by admitting that helping digital nomads determine the actual cost of their move is a futile exercise, considering the endless contributing factors: where do you live now? Where do you want to move to? Are you single or with kids in tow? Are you planning to ship your car and a container full of belongings? Etc etc. You get the gist.

Instead, I think the best option is to share some tried-and-tested tips on the best way you can determine the cost for yourself and (perhaps more importantly) include some insider tips on how to reduce these costs.

After all…I’m going to go out on a limb and assume this may be everyone’s priority 😉

Separate the must-costs from the maybe-costs

Your first priority should be to make a list of all the costs you envisage for your move. Things like flights, above-mentioned container shipping; apartment and/or car rental and so on. Then, think long and hard about which costs are avoidable and which are not. Yes you will have to get yourself there somehow, so flights are (for the majority) unavoidable. Tick.

Apartment rental? Nope, don’t need that yet (more on this later.) Car? Definitely not at first. Double tick.

Now your turn.

Get at least three quotes on all the must-costs

Once you have determined what you must absolutely pay for (if you’re still undecided keep on reading) then best to get quotes as soon as possible. Making the move during low-tourist season in your target country can keep flight, shipping and accommodation costs down for example, so always keep this in mind when doing your research and you could save a small bundle right off the bat.

Sell more…take less

You know how I mentioned getting a quote for shipping all of your personal belongings? Yeah…not. Stop right there.

I know how enticing it is to want to duplicate your life at home once abroad but this does contrast with most of the reasons you decided to make the BIG move in the first place. This isn’t about duplicating, this is about reshaping. If you do want to take ALL of your material possessions and envisage placing them in your new home overseas, you may want to rethink your reasons for moving. It’s a hell of a lot of hassle just to get away from the mother-in-law! Just kidding…

Placing everything in storage and leaving with the bare necessities is a great option, although if you can stomach the idea, I suggest you actually sell off as much as possible before you leave. Not only will this generate more cash (there’s your flights!) but the psychological impact it will have on you may allow you for greater flexibility in your new home-country.

I did in fact leave all my belongings in storage before going travelling. The next time I saw them was three years later when I dashed home to sell it all off: I had spent $2000 a year on storing things I never thought about, nor needed, ever again.

Food for thought? Goodie.

The dreaded housekeeping

One of the hardest decisions you’ll make will be whether or not to keep your house, if you happen not to be renting at home. This is definitely a tough choice to make. Due to my fatalist philosophies I will come right out and advice you to get rid of it; the only thing it will gift you is hours and hours of worry and work; both things you can do without. However, I also understand and accept that this may be easier said than done. Well, I did do it and it was rather easy, but you get my point.

Factoring in the costs of keeping your home at home can be hard-going. Will you rent it out? What about unexpected repairs? Will you leave someone else in charge of managing it? What about the extra expenses: can you factor them into your digital nomad income?

It will soon will become painfully obvious that keeping your home is a huge commitment, one which is hard to maintain if you happen to be on the other side of the planet; and this is just taking practical matters into consideration. I can only imagine how many digital nomads have lost countless nights’ sleep over a major issue with their homes. I don’t envy them one bit.

You’ll need less than you think

This particular credo works for just about everything you can think of. Please excuse the hanging preposition.

First of all, let’s talk high tech gizmos. By and large, I would suggest that whatever you need for one full day of working remotely from Starbucks is all you’ll ever need. I’ve seen digital nomads look like walking computer stores, whilst all I own is a small netbook, an external hard-drive and a couple of memory sticks. All three, by the way, can be purchased in almost every corner of the globe. I keep things stored on Dropbox and continually email my work to myself. Should the inevitable happen (things also go walkabouts in every corner of the globe) I won’t be jumping out of a 4-story window in despair.

Here’s something else to think about. Just because you can’t go down the road to buy milk without hopping in your car, it does not mean you ought to export this habit to your new home-country. Living without a car is not only possible and incredibly refreshing; it is also much easier to do it from the moment you arrive, when you have not yet become accustomed to the luxury of depending on one. Shipping your car overseas can be an awful waste of your heard-earned cash so I suggest you don;t even contemplate it. Likewise, leave the car rental/purchase expense in your new home country for a few months down the track. Unsurprisingly, most digital nomads who live abroad never even make this step, even after many years.

Homes are highly overrated and I do mean this in the nicest possible way. Yes it would be nice to land in Calcutta and head straight for your rental apartment, but the problem with this is that you’ll never really know how good a choice you’ve made until  you’ve seen it, smelt it and lived in it. Food and accommodation are life’s basics costs, yet holding off just a wee while on the latter can see your initial costs reduced drastically. First of all, you may want to spend a few weeks scouring suburbs of your intended abode and decide which one suits you best. Secondly, I don’t care what expat blogs/guide-books say, you are the only one who can determine what is good/bad for YOU so you do need to see it all for yourself.

Spending a few weeks in a cheap hostel will not only reduce your initial moving costs but it can prove to be highly beneficial in lots of other ways. I love hostels because they give me the convenience to stay in the heart of a city or town whilst giving me the freedom to suss it all out. You can get a private dorm to yourself/ves and enjoy the convenience of cooking your own meals, thus saving you money on food consumption as well. Most hostels will discount for long-term stays so consider it a bona fide genial option. The great thing about doing this is that you don’t need to yet budget for a rental-apartment deposit within the first few weeks. Give yourself some time to recover financially from the move before forking out even more cash and you’ll be a much happier digital nomad.

Budgeting for your move abroad is a task best tackled with nerves of steel and a sunny disposition; although most seasoned digital nomads will tell you to just chill right out. The whole point of this life-changing decision is to simplify your life and get back to the basics.

May as well start your spring-clean today.

Written by Laura Pattara

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Filed under Digital Nomads, Finances and Budgeting, Location Independence, Preparing to Breakaway

How to get more out of your travel plans by Trip Stacking

After you’ve achieved location freedom, every trip is an opportunity to see more and do more while you are traveling. My wife and I recently turned a 3 day wedding weekend into a 2 week trip to Northern California.

In this video I share some pointers I learned the hard way in trying to stack another set of trips in an attempt to turn 8 days into 3.5 weeks. We still got 18 days out of it, so no complaints, but I spent a lot of work researching the wrong things only to find out all of our trip scenarios weren’t doable for all of the people we wanted to see. If sharing these videos helps others learn from my mistakes, I’ll keep making them. 🙂


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The Do’s and Don’ts of Working Remotely

Cars stuck in a traffic jam

Avoiding the morning commute is a great part of my day

In the beginning, working from home is bliss. You set your own schedule, have a fantastic commute and the daytime soaps take the place of even the most chatty co-workers.

Richard Branson is a big supporter of telecommuting, working from his island in the Caribbean he believes “remote working is easier and more effective than ever.” Faced with endless perks, there are a couple of hazards you must learn to navigate. Follow our advice and you will be more productive than ever in your home office. Even if you only work remotely once a week, our tips will help you accomplish more and make sure you stay productive – even when no one is watching.

The ability to work from home has many advantages, but requires more self-discipline and motivation than a traditional office environment. To set yourself up for success this is what you need to do:

  • Have a workspace separate from your home, with minimal distractions. The TV isn’t turned on as background noise in a normal office, it shouldn’t be on in your home office either.

  • Create boundaries. Despite being at home, you have work to do. Your friends and family need to respect that, and they should limit any distractions while you are working.

  • Get ready for each day. Shower and change out of your pajamas. You never know when the boss will call on Skype, or your friends drop by unannounced.

  • Stay organised. Use to-do lists, calendars, apps on your phone. Whatever it takes for you to stay on top of your tasks and never miss a deadline.

  • Form a schedule, a semblance of routine office hours so that your colleagues, boss and your clients know when it is OK to contact you. Try to match this as close to normal business hours as possible, it makes it easier for everyone involved.

  • Having a schedule also stops you working too much, It’s important to take breaks throughout the day. Take time for a relaxing lunch break and get outside, if only for a short period of time. It will leave you refreshed once you begin work again.

  • Have a back-up plan. There will be days where the internet goes down, or for whatever reason you can’t work from your home office. Scope out a library of coffee shop you can work from as your plan B, or you could always just pop into your normal office.

  • Make the extra effort to stay in touch with your colleagues. Pick up the phone to speak to people, even if it’s not 100% work related. Use technology to help you here, Skype and instant messaging are great way to stay abreast of the latest office news without leaving your remote office. If there is a birthday or special event, make it a point to attend in person.

There are many hazards a telecommuter needs to learn to manage. More so than in a normal office, a remote worker has to look out for the following:

  • Don’t become a recluse. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to leave the house. The same goes for showering. Stay clean people!

  • Don’t ever lose touch with the people in your company. It’s easy to do, when you are not forced to interact in a lunch room or cafeteria. You need to work extra hard to maintain your relationships with colleagues while you work remotely.

  • Don’t take personal calls during work hours. Often family and friends think that since you are home you can catch up on your work later. Unfortunately this is not the case. You need to manage your close acquaintances expectations, and only return calls once your work is done.

  • Don’t do personal chores or errands while you are meant to be working. It will take twice as long to get your work done. Don’t tweet about it either, your boss is going to see you’re not working.

  • Don’t procrastinate and let the hours slip away. Create a routine you can stick to with a schedule that allows you be productive throughout the day.

  • Don’t work too much. Typically remote workers put in a lot extra time, its easy to fire up the laptop and spend another few hours working late into the night. You have a huge risk of burning out. Make sure your schedule makes sense.

These tips are a great start in being effective while working remotely. Follow them to the letter and you will be a very successful telecommuter. But if you’re anything like me, every now and then you need to throw caution to the wind. Go see a movie, take the afternoon off to enjoy the sun in the park, or dive into a book only to emerge hours later. The real joy in a flexible schedule is that you dictate when you need to work, and when you can afford to indulge in some spontaneous fun. Just don’t forget that an afternoon off might equate to staying up till 4am to meet that deadline.

But hey, that’s your call. The biggest perk of working remotely is being your own boss.

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Motivation, Work and Business, Working Remotely