Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORKING ABROAD / JUL. 10, 2014
version 9, draft 9

How to Balance Business and Pleasure When Working Overseas as a Digital Nomad

Because it allows you to work and play to a timetable set by you and you alone, being a digital nomad - working remotely online whenever you like in order to create an income that will allow you to travel wherever you like - offers you the chance to have your cake and eat it. If you feel like taking a day off work then you can, no questions asked. If you’re bored and within reach of a trustworthy Wi-Fi source then you can put in a few hours’ work straight off the cuff. If you’re hungover and need to stay in bed for another few hours then you can, no sickie required. No managers, no contracts, no rotas – it’s all down to you.As empowering, enjoyable and liberating as this way of working may seem, it is frequently the case that the digital nomad lifestyle isn’t always an easy one to cultivate. This is because maintaining a suitable balance between business and pleasure can often be quite a challenge when undertaking a prolonged period of online work and perpetual travel. In truth, this is quite understandable as it is hard to devote a specific amount of time to work when the world is literally your oyster and there is no one around to provide any kind of occupational structure (or threaten you with disciplinary action!).But work you must. It’s simple economics: if you don’t work enough then you won’t earn enough. Perpetual travel requires regular and reliable funding; if that goes astray then your digital nomad lifestyle disappears and you become a ’no income nomad’ (or as they’re more commonly known, backpackers).So how can you maintain a decent balance between business and pleasure when working remotely on the road?Well, here are few tips which worked well for me when I used to spend my time working and travelling around Europe and Asia as a freelance web writer.

Work somewhere out of the way

The fact that increasing numbers of hostels, guest houses and other traveller-type accommodations offer complimentary Wi-Fi services these days means you can easily do web-based work in your room/dorm or in a common room. Although this option is supremely convenient (not to mention cheap), it can be problematic as the constant comings and goings and sociable nature of traveller accommodations make them less than conducive places to concentrate on work.If you can find somewhere out of the way to complete the bulk of your day’s work you will be much more productive. A nearby coffee shop (or ’coffice’ as they’re often called by remote workers) is always a good bet, as are fast food outlets with quiet, out of the way, upstairs/downstairs areas. If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself staying near a public lih3ary then be sure to make it your base for all things work related. As well as offering safe and reliable Wi-Fi, public lih3aries have that academic atmosphere which encourages work better than any other environment. Working in this way will engender a ’clocking-in/clocking-out’ mentality, thus ensuring the work and play elements of your digital lifestyle remain relatively separate.

Aim to hit a minimum target each week/month

Although this is likely to depend on the kind of web-based work you do, it can be helpful to maintain an overall target of the amount of work you want to complete during a specified period of time. Through my own personal experience, I found it was better for this period of time to be weekly or monthly as trying to stick to ’X’ amount of hours per day is not always the best way forward when you’re travelling. After all, you want to be flexible enough to enjoy some of the spontaneity that travelling independently offers. If you say you’re going to work 30 hours a week/120 hours per month then you can take a day off when someone invites you out somewhere and make the time up later that week/month. It’s commendable to have a good work ethic and insist on working a certain amount of hours per day, but if you get into the habit of saying ’I cannot do that/go there/join you’ because you want to stick rigidly to your own personal rota, you will invariably miss out on a lot of what independent travel has to offer.

Take time out for reflection

A lot of companies these days carry out monthly or quarterly appraisals to see how their employees are getting on. Whilst meetings of this kind are often regarded as ’bulls**t duels’, the concept actually translates very well to those pursuing a digital nomad lifestyle. Indeed it can be very beneficial to set aside an hour or so every now and then to take stock of the bigger picture and assess how things are going. Take it from me, you will know if your work/play balance is off; you will know if the work side of things is suffering because you’re partying too hard, or vice-versa. Take this time to gauge how it’s all going and check whether the priorities and aims you had at the beginning of your trip are still the same as they were.

If they are, and you’re relatively happy with the way things are going then chances are you’ve got the balance pretty even. If you have doubts or feel like things are becoming a bit ’samey’ then you will more than likely need to look at making some changes to your lifestyle. It is worth taking the time to try and get your head right during these periods of reflection as – when all is said and done – this is likely to be one of the biggest and most memorable adventures of your life, so it’s important to give yourself the best shot of enjoying it to the full.

Maintaining a healthy business and pleasure balance is not an easy thing to do; however, it is a vital feature to strive for as it is integral to getting the most out of the digital nomad lifestyle. Whilst the above tips are in no way exhaustive they may well help get you thinking in ways which will lead you to develop your own take on what is/isn’t a good balance for you. So, don’t just leave it to chance and let your digital nomad adventure swing from one extreme to another; be proactive - and honest - about your business and pleasure needs and you’ll increase your nomadic ’staying power’ considerably..!

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