Everyone knows that working at a traditional “9-5” job can provide its own set of challenges when trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, balancing your work life and social life as a digital nomad can sometimes be even harder.
Of course, there are amazing aspects of being a digital nomad that can make the lifestyle literally one out of a dream: meeting interesting people from around the world, visiting amazing places, eating awesome food, and experiencing new cultures. You can be doing this all the time – literally.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what makes the digital nomad lifestyle a potential minefield. The freedom and lack of boundaries can be intoxicating at times. And if it’s not managed well then you can find yourself living an extended holiday and potentially have your life come crashing down – out of work and out of money.
To sustain a digital nomad lifestyle it’s essential to not go crazy. The good thing is that balancing your work life and social life as a digital nomad can lead to one of the most rewarding lifestyles you can imagine. One of the most important tenets is “work hard, play hard” with a focus on the work part as by working well, you can have more guilt-free free time. Here are some things for you to consider to be able to balance your work and social life effectively.
Keep To A Schedule
Keeping a schedule or routine not only helps you to stay organized but keeping a steady routine has positive benefits for the mind, body, and soul as well. As it can help to deal with insomnia, anxiety, and improve productivity and creativity as well.
To help keep to a schedule you can use various tools to help you understand your work habits, sleep habits, and productivity. They can range from the high tech like smartwatches that can measure your blood oxygen levels while you sleep, to the low tech like a journal that allows you to keep track of your tasks, productivity, fitness, etc.
It’s important to keep both your long-term, short-term, and medium-term goals and plans in mind so you can stay on target. By managing your time effectively you can meet your work goals so you can truly enjoy your free time.
Start Slow – Work And Play
When you first start off working as a digital nomad it can be difficult to find the right balance between work and play. The new freedom can be exhilarating and it can be way too easy to put-off work in favor of sightseeing, going for drinks with some people you just met, or catching some sun on the beach.
While it can be very easy to put-off working, you might be tempted to do just the opposite. If you work remotely but you still have a supervisor or team that you work with, you may feel that you need to overwork to prove that you are productive. Try your best to avoid both of these scenarios. When you first start your digital nomad journey, set minimal expectations so you can find the right balance between work and play. This is important because you may find that you have a different rhythm of productivity. When you don’t have a schedule forced upon you, it allows you to work when it’s best for you.
Turn Off Notifications
Turning off your notifications goes for both work notifications and social notifications. When you are in your “work hours” turn off notifications from non-work messaging apps and social networks. This can help keep your work time and playtime separate. Because when your working you can stay focused on your tasks at hand. And when you’re not working, turn off your work-related notifications. Whether you are being social or just taking some personal time give yourself the opportunity to truly be present and have fun without the worry of work.
Do What Works Best For You
As we mentioned before, there is no single “one size fits all” policy, methodology, or schedule. You will need to find this out for yourself. You should try out different things and see what your body responds best to. See what works, and what doesn’t. You will probably find that working straight from 9-5 wasn’t exactly a great fit for you. Maybe it’s the mornings and evenings that are better for you. Who knows, you can give both of them a try!
While you can try different routines and schedules, you can also try so many other things as well! Maybe working alone in your Airbnb is too quiet and a coworking space is more your style. Or perhaps you don’t like living alone at all and a coliving space is more interesting for you. Give different things a go. You don’t know it until you try it, after all.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
FOMO is real. And if you’re already a digital nomad, maybe it was that same FOMO that drove you to ditch the 9-5 and chase the digital nomad dream. However, nonstop FOMO chasing is gonna cost you eventually. Not only with cash (trying to do everything will be expensive) but with your energy as well. Don’t kill yourself trying to see everyone and do everything.
For some, this may seem like an impossible task, but you will be thanking yourself later. You can help yourself by prioritizing the places you want to visit and things you want to try. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be able to do everything. Saying no goes to both others and to yourself.
Similar to saying no, maintaining realistic expectations of yourself is important to both your work life and social life. It also will help with your mental health. If you set your expectations too high you’ll continue to disappoint yourself and have less self-worth. Keep things manageable. Don’t commit to things you don’t know if you can handle. When you bite off more than you can chew you can not only disappoint yourself but others if you can’t accomplish what you say you would.
You can perform an occasional self-analysis of your day, week, or month to see if you’re accomplishing what you set out to do. You can also see what works for you, and what doesn’t. Try to match your work goals with your non-work goals. Ask yourself if you really have enough time to do everything you plan on. And then ask yourself again because if you’re like most of us, you think that you can do more than you realistically can. After all, trying to do too much can lead to burnout.
Practice Good Habits
It’s no secret that good habits are important for a happy and healthy life. And this is no different if you’re a digital nomad. Some good habits to try to maintain are keeping a healthy routine and lifestyle. A healthy routine includes getting enough sleep and not overworking yourself. Some good lifestyle habits can include practicing a small commute, eating a healthy diet, staying active, and creating a workstation to help keep you focused and boost your productivity.
Kick The Bad Habits
Compared with good habits, bad habits can severely inhibit your ability to work effectively. And even if you may think that you are living the dream life, maybe it isn’t the healthiest one. Late nights, eating poorly, smoking, procrastination, drinking too much, and working too much can all lead to an unbalanced lifestyle. Ultimately, do your best to work, play, and live responsibly.
Manage Your Finances
There are few things in life that put more stress on you than money problems. This is especially true when you are a digital nomad. When you have roots put down in someplace, you have lifelines just in case things go south. You have friends and family you can turn to. However, when you are a digital nomad you are much more alone in this regard. If you don’t budget effectively you can put yourself in very precarious situations. This can cause significant distractions in all aspects of your life.
By budgeting effectively you can reduce the stress in your life while also making sure you can save money for travel, sightseeing, events with friends, and of course your living expenses. Don’t be forced to have to work more and miss social events or holidays because you blew your budget on things you shouldn’t have bought.
Vacation From The “Vacation”
Due to the idea that digital nomads only work in glamorous and beautiful places, it may seem like a digital nomad wouldn’t need a vacation because hey, their life is a vacation. But one forgets about the whole work aspect of being a digital nomad. And there will likely still be plenty of it. If you’re working 40 (or more sometimes) hours per week, you will still be grinding like many other people – except more on your own terms. So, while digital nomads may be working in amazing places, the weekends and downtime may be more interesting than other places, the long weeks still mean that an occasional 1-2 week break from all work is necessary.
Taking a vacation can allow you to visit friends and family. Or conversely, your friends and family can come to visit you! It can be a great time to reconnect with those you haven’t seen in a long time. Even if it’s just a Skype call back home that you have been putting off for ages. It can also give you time to tourist around your current base and take in some of the sights you have been too busy to see.
Just because your a digital nomad doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a vacation.
Lose The Distractions
Nowadays, and particularly if you are a digital nomad, most of our distractions come from the digital notifications I have already mentioned. However, there are still some offline distractions that cause you to lose your focus. And staying focused is important so you can finish your tasks on schedule so you can enjoy your time off of work as well, and not postponing your off time due to the real-life distractions you can face. What are these offline distractions? You ask. Well, it all depends on your own specific situation. But if you are working from home in a coliving space the distraction could be your housemates. If you are in a coworking space, it could be some of the other digital nomads that work there. Or, if you are working from a beachside cafe it could be wayyyy too easy to spend most of your day getting some sun on the beach and drinking piña coladas rather than doing any real work.
So, if you are easily susceptible to distractions like these, then try your best to lose them altogether. Find a place that you can do your best work, distraction-free.
Practice Makes Perfect
When you try balancing work and social life as a digital nomad there is going to be a lot of trial and error. Especially if you are just starting to spread your wings on your digital nomad journey. It’s all about knowing yourself. And there is no right or wrong way to get your work done and enjoy your free time. It just has to be right for you and you only will know that after you try to see what works and what doesn’t work. If you work at the aforementioned beachside cafe and you end up buzzed and sunburnt with no work to show for it, then that’s probably not a great place for you to work. If you try working early mornings but you kill yourself trying to be productive that’s not for you either. Don’t be bummed out if somethings don’t work out. It’s all part of the process. This leads us to the last point…
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Whether you’re a digital nomad or not, life always has its ups and downs. There will be times when you find yourself working too much, or conversely maybe not working enough. Or perhaps you slipped back into some bad habits. Whichever it is, keep trying to do what works best for you, and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan when balancing work and social life as a digital nomad. Sometimes, that’s just the way life is.