As a follow-up to my Working from Home post, I would like to share what it is like for me to work on the road. I am often asked what is it like to be a digital nomad? How do you get some work done with all your travels?
Working as a digital nomad means that you can work wherever you can connect to wi-fi. And it is definitely something I appreciate. It gives me independence and I can decide when and where I want to work. However, this type of work als requires a lot of self-discipline and does not mean that I always have a drink next to my laptop and work from a hammock at the beach. I actually do not know where this hammock-and-beach image of digital nomads come from. At most of the beaches I have been to, there was no wi-fi.. But anyways, let me share what I do to stay productive when I am on the road.
I am currently travelling for two weeks. The first week, I am in Croatia on an art trip and I will be busy most of the days. I do not think that I will have a lot of time to work on my things. The second week will be a bit more relaxed because I am going to a wedding in Greece and I am sure I will be able to squeeze some time in. I know that exercising is unrealistic during such a trip (and also during a wedding) but I know I will be walking a lot, so I am not too worried about that.
Because of that, I needed to plan ahead. And planning is one of my favourite things to do. Before I left for this trip, I prepared all the content and social media postings I planned to publish in advance. And the good thing about running digital businesses is that you can take them wherever you go to. This week, the programme will start at around 9 am every day. Hence, what I plan to do is wake up at my usual time (around 6 am) and use the first 2.5 hours of the day, have breakfast and then head out. In case I need to trouble shoot or answer emails, this should be enough time because I have prepared everything in advance. Furthermore, new content has to be produced as well. Think about your favourite accounts on Instagram – there is not a day without any Instagram-Stories. To keep followers up-to-date, it means that even though you struggle keep your eyes open anymore, you still edit your content and share it as soon as possible with your audience.
Since I became a digital nomad, I do not go anywhere without my laptop. It sounds paranoid, but I rather have it with me and know that I can troubleshoot and use free time than worrying and not being able to access my sites. I try to use any free minute I have – when I am on the train, waiting at the airport, on the plane – even when I need to be offline, there is always something I can do. And it gives me this great feeling of leaving the plane with the feeling that I have accomplished something and can focus on other things.
Just to give you one example: When I travelled to the Biennale in Venice and documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel last year, I took over 1,000 pictures during each trip. I immediately started editing the pictures, worked on the video on the plane and the train and shared the days on Instagram. Running content-focused websites is like running a newspaper – the stories need to get out at the peak interest time – who would have wanted to read about Meghan’s and Harry’s wedding two weeks later? Similarly, when I attend events I report about, I dedicate all my time to get my content out as soon as possible. Hence, I used cafés in Venice when we had a break from visiting the Biennale. I even used a brunch to work on a post because I finally found reliable wi-fi.
I have always been quite good at working from cafés. Maybe because when you live in Austria, people spend their days at coffee places and a lot of my friends who work in creative fields work from there. I actually do not mind the noise, unless I have a video conference. I then usually do research in advance or ask for a place at the hotel where it is less noisy. One important thing about video conferences: when you work on the road a lot, you need to learn to treat video conferences like real conferences. In the beginning, I found it really awkward to sit in front of my laptop and wait for the other person online. I would have preferred to meet in person. How shall I start the meeting if I cannot even shake hands? But after some time, I got used to it. I will dedicate another article to running remote teams and video conferences, so stay tuned!
I sometimes compare working on the road as a digital nomad, business owner or freelancer to when you have a “regular” job: when I had upcoming business trips, I also used to prepare everything in advance. And when I was on the road, I “only” had to push the buttons and troubleshoot which allowed me to focus on my meetings.
I hope this was a bit of an insight into my days on the road. Now I am off to explore some Croatian art. I am sending you some Mediterranean sun for your work week ahead!