6 simple habits you need to develop to become a successful digital nomad

May 20th 2022 – Written By Stephanie Sheargold

virtual assistant

Being a digital nomad is easy, right? You can just open your laptop, connect to the internet and work from anywhere.

Hmmm, not quite.

Even in 2022, a digitally nomadic lifestyle is not that simple. In fact, it can be quite difficult if you don’t create a schedule or have a back-up plan. After all, if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail!

You don’t need a rigid plan, but it’s always good to have a few contingencies in place. I dipped my toes into the world of being a digital nomad in October when I worked from Crete for a month. Since then, I have been to Argentina, Lake Como and have a few more trips booked in this year. 

This kind of flexibility is why I stepped into the VA world and built Timpi. I love working, but I also love travelling, and this lets me do both.

I have learnt a lot over the past year when working and travelling – and have made a lot of mistakes along the way. So here are some easy habits for anyone who is thinking of working as a digital nomad.

1. Choose your flights carefully

Flights are the perfect time to crack on with your work. There’s no-one to disturb you, making it the ideal time to work ON your business, not IN your business. It’s the perfect opportunity to work on the things that have been sitting on your to-do list for a while.

However, many of the super-cheap flights don’t have an internet connection. For this reason, it can be worth going for the more expensive carriers, such as BA. The lack of reliable internet connection on flights also means it’s helpful to plan what you are going to work on while flying and make sure it’s available offline. I love using flights as an opportunity to draft emails, ready to schedule send when I next have internet access. 

2. Get fully charged

Get into the habit of charging everything up at the end of each day – your laptop, headphones, iPad/reMarkable. With this habit in place, no matter where you go and what crops up, you’ll have enough battery power to do your work.

And when it comes to prepping for travel, make sure you pack all your chargers, have the right adapters, and always (always!) pack a couple of battery packs. You never know when you’ll be able to recharge your battery. Only the other week, I was delayed at the airport and the charging points on the seats weren’t switched on. You may also find there’s no plug on your plane or train seat, which could be a killer if you’re travelling long haul.

3. Be phone savvy

Given how much we rely on our phones, it’s vital to check that the country you are travelling to is covered in your contract. I had a hiccup recently when travelling to Argentina via Brazil. I turned my phone on, my new emails were automatically downloaded, giving me an additional £20 bill for just three minutes use!

Here are a few things to think about:

  • If your contract doesn’t cover the country you’re travelling to, make sure you have a backup plan. Travel bolt-ons can be a lifesaver.
  • Virtual Sim Cards are another way of ensuring you get decent coverage without paying through the nose. You can download a virtual sim card and then buy data for the country you’re working from.
  • Even in 2022, too many cafés and coworking spaces have sketchy Wi-Fi. So, having a reliable backup plan is essential. I regularly use my phone as a personal hotspot, it’s saved me a lot of time and trouble. It’s also perfect for working while you’re travelling.

Here’s an example of how just how useful your phone can be. We recently went to Lake Como and had an hour and half drive from the airport. So, while my partner drove us, I tethered my phone and got on with some work. I focused on actioning all my pressing emails, which left me on top of everything and ready to enjoy the sights when we arrived.

4.  Keep your laptop in the UK time zone

This simple habit makes things so much easier. By keeping your laptop as BST or GMT, all your calendar invites will be at the right time. What’s more, you won’t get confused with time differences.

Doing this also gives you an idea of when you’ll be able to work undisturbed. I normally only travel to places that are up to 4 hours ahead or behind the UK. This means I get a lot of work done before the UK wakes up or after 5pm UK time. This time is great for working ON the business and not IN the business. (I haven’t ventured further than 4 hours yet, but let you know how it goes when I do!)

5.  Book meetings mindfully

You’ll find meetings easier to handle if you ensure you have reliable Wi-Fi, you’re in a quiet place, and you feel relaxed. Your hotel room or villa is the best bet – no-one else wants to hear the bustling café you’re working from in Barcelona, or the mopeds speeding past. 

6. Communicate with your team

Having a team or VA in the UK makes working as a digital nomad even easier. So make sure you discuss your schedule with your VA or team, so they know when they can get in touch with you. It’s also a good idea to block out time in your diary when you know you can take meetings, so your VA can book them in as required.

Make sure your VA knows what your plans are. This way they can make sure they’re available to field calls and action emails when you want to pop out and explore the city for a couple of hours. If anything is urgent, they can always call you.

Being a digital nomad is incredibly liberating – you don’t have to work in the office every day, you CAN work from anywhere if you really put your mind to it. The key is to do it seamlessly, ensuring that no-one would ever guess you weren’t sitting at your regular desk. As amazing as it is to travel, it’s essential to maintain professionalism, be efficient and continue to provide a seamless service.  

Wondering if being a digital nomad is right for you? My previous blog – ‘Why becoming a digital nomad is more achievable than you might think’ – shares even more advice. 

So, where are you off to next?