I imagine that travel blogging and being a digital nomad looks really glamorous from the outside. Images of sipping mojitos on a Mexican beach, riding camels in the Saharan desert, and partying every night with our new fellow-backpacking friends may come to mind.
And you wouldn’t be far off. All of that does happen.
What you don’t see is the hours we spend on our laptops, locked up in our hotel rooms, slaving away into the wee hours of the morning trying to get some work done in between sight-seeing and actually being in a place.
Even though I am a stationary nomad now, I still have trouble balancing my large workload and enjoying my life here in Medellin. Sometimes I have to force myself to come out of my apartment, shut off my computer, and give myself a mental break.
Are you suffering from the same affliction?
Signs your travel/work balance is off
- You spend more time inside your hotel room than outside of it
- You snap photos not to remember the place, but to be able to blog about it and share it on your social media networks
- You get anxious and irritable when your wifi signal is weak
- Your laptop is your only company during meals
- You can’t remember the last time you made eye contact with someone
- You envy the other travelers around you who are actually having fun
- When you do give yourself a day off, you try to cram all of the attractions and partying into one day
What to do about it
If you’re worrying too much about being able to sustain your travel lifestyle than enjoying it, there are a few things you can do to keep your productivity up and your priorities in check.
Create a budget
Are you killing yourself trying to make $3000/month when you really only need $1000/month in your current location? Making extra money and saving it for a more expensive destination is cool, but is it worth sacrificing your time? What’s more valuable to you, being able to go shopping during your trip or being able to put more effort in building relationships with local people and learning about their culture?
Cut out distractions
This is a classic productivity tip, but it’s often ignored. Are you trying to edit an article, build a website, or carry out your money-making task while chatting with your friends on Facebook, your clients on Skype, and your parents via email? Imagine what two hours of work would look like if you were just focused on work. There will be plenty of time to browse through your tweets later.
If you’re the type of digital nomad who works for other people or has clients, make it clear that you’re available during specific hours only. It’s best to do this in the beginning of a working relationship so they know what to expect. Just because you’re on Skype at midnight doesn’t mean you’re available to talk about your project then.
Leave it at work
This is something I really struggle with. When I’m forehead-deep in projects, that’s all I can think about. I go to bed thinking about work, I talk about it when I’m out with my friends, and even check my work emails from my Blackberry when I’m supposed to be out. Make a deal with yourself to be in the present and focus on what’s going on around you. If you’re out, have fun. You don’t have to be mentally working 24/7 to be successful.