Working remotely is a dream for many. It means having the freedom to work anytime and anywhere there is reliable WIFI; however, this also means there can be temptation to abandon the work that got us this freedom in the first place.
A lot of people do well in 9 to 5 office jobs because they need the structure of a set work day. But, just because you’re a digital nomad or travel blogger doesn’t mean you can’t have structure, routine, or ways to keep yourself productive.
One of the best ways to keep on top of your upcoming projects is to take advantage of the downtime that those working in a more traditional job setting may not be able to.
But even when you’re focused, that pesky thing called imposter syndrome can still be an obstacle in the way of getting work done on time.
In this post, I’ll talk about the best ways to make use of your free time, how to overcome imposter syndrome that every digital nomad is sure to experience, and when it’s time to reevaluate your priorities and ask for help.
Unexpected delays while you’re waiting at the airport or missed flights present optimal opportunities to get to work. The typical 9 to 5 employee is just waiting at the gate or playing on their phone, maybe checking emails, but with a laptop, you can get hours of paid work done. You can turn your delayed flight into a paid opportunity.
Think of it this way: If a flight is delayed or canceled, it’s out of your hands. Stressing out about it or getting upset isn’t going to make the plane show up any faster. So instead of worrying, get some work done! You’re now getting paid for the inconvenience, rather than sitting in boredom at the airport.
Working remotely also means being able to work whenever inspiration hits, even if you don’t have access to WiFi. Keep a journal with you at all times (or use the notes feature on your phone) and jot down any ideas you have throughout the day. Even if you’re not sure how you’ll turn that idea into a money making project, write it down! Then periodically check this list and start building out from there.
Ideas come and go pretty quickly, so if you’re terrible at remembering things, it’s best to write them down right away. Brainstorming things you wouldn’t normally have time to focus on, is a great use of a commute or unexpected waiting period.
It’s important to relax in your free time too, but sometimes we waste time without realising it. Finding a balance between seizing opportunities and resting is essential to working as a digital nomad, especially if you’re traveling to new places often!
But, even when we want to get work done, sometimes we just can’t seem to find the words. So, what happens when you’re ready to work but can’t seem to get started?
Imposter syndrome is real—and it’s annoying. If you’re stuck staring at your computer screen for an hour, it’s safe to say you probably need to take a step back and do something differently.
Imposter syndrome is the fear to start something because you think people will see you as under qualified or incapable of doing the job (even though you’re totally capable and have experienced success in the past.) There are a lot of creative suggestions for getting past this, but just try doing something.
If you’re a writer:
Getting something on paper is better than nothing at all. Just. Start. Writing.
It doesn’t matter if it’s terrible. Just get words on paper and some ideas out of your head. Then, put it away. Come back to it and you’ll see you now have something you can work with and turn into an actual blog post or project.
If you can’t seem to get anything relevant on paper, try making lists. Make a list of places you’d like to visit. Dream clients you’d like to work with. Books you’d like to read. Even though this isn’t necessarily the content you need to be working on, just writing something can get the brain flowing.
If you like drawing, try doodling on scrap paper for a while. Or illustrate the ideas you can’t put into words. Are you writing about the best restaurants in Bali? Draw the kinds of food you want to write about, or the outside of the cafe. Working your brain in another creative direction or simply switching gears can help you move past the roadblock you have.
If you’re starting a project:
Self-doubt or fear of failure can hold us back from starting even projects we’re really passionate about. This is something a lot of remote workers experience, because there is a lot of pressure associated with being your own boss.
Take time to imagine yourself starting the project, working through it, and ending up with a perfect finished product. Imagine something going wrong, but then envision yourself working around this obstacle without issue or worry.
Visualisation is a powerful tool, but takes practice. If you run through something in your head enough times, your brain will start to actually believe that you did those things. The more times you can visualise this happening, the easier you can make it happen in real life, too.
Sometimes all you have to do to beat imposter syndrome is to just write or start something. Anything. Even if it’s not directly related to the project you’re working on. Taking some kind of action is ultimately better than doing nothing at all.
We learn from our mistakes, so it’s important to remember that even if we “fail” at something, ultimately that experience will make us better workers and business owners.
Asking for Help
If you’re still finding yourself overwhelmed, take an honest look at your workload. Are you spreading yourself too thin?
Sometimes the reason you don’t want to start a project is because it’s something you’re not really passionate about. But, it can also be because you have so much to do, that you don’t know where or how to start.
When you’re building your business, you’re wearing many hats at once. You are solely responsible for the work you’ve taken on and getting it done on time. You’re answering emails and other administrative tasks, when you could be focusing on the marketing project your clients needs tomorrow.
This isn’t sustainable. If you’re having difficulty staying productive, it may not be because you’re distracted, but because you’re doing too much. Know when to ask for help.
But, hiring a virtual assistant (VA) or outsourcing some of your work means losing out on profits, right? Not necessarily.
First, even if you are spending money, it’s for your sanity and the longevity of your business. If you continue taking on more work and stressing yourself out, the business will collapse. Now you’re not making any money.
And, by outsourcing some of the busy work you need to upkeep your business, you’ll actually have more time to focus on doing what you love and taking on more of the work that makes your business profitable.
If you’re unsure about the advantages of hiring a VA, try finding someone who is looking for an unpaid internship. Because they’re just starting out, they’re likely to go the extra mile to prove their potential to move into a paid position, and you can see how much they can help you before committing to hiring them full-time. It’s a win-win scenario, especially if they do become your new full-time VA.
Another bonus, a lot of VAs also work on a project basis, so you’ll know your budget every month and don’t have to worry about tracking an hourly rate. VAs are also typically independent contractors, so you don’t have to pay their employment taxes and they should invoice you.
Finding and creating a working relationship with a solid VA can be the best way to increase your productivity as a remote worker, because you can better focus on what you love doing and the projects that are most profitable. Not to mention, you’re also helping someone else build their remote working lifestyle, too.
Dream Big & Set Realistic Goals
Lastly, make sure you’re dreaming big while still setting realistic goals.
Don’t take on 20 clients if you only have time for 10. If you’re doing a ton of work but not hitting your income goals, raise your rates; you might be burnt out from doing too much for too little.
Clients expect rates to increase every year, and a lot of digital nomads increase their rates after the first six months. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve.
If you want to create a six-figure business, you absolutely can do that. But, it’s unlikely you can accomplish that without setting goals along the way. If you’re looking to grow your business, you’ll need to understand how to prioritise and when to ask for help.
Working as your own boss means understanding how to advocate for yourself and the quality of your work. By taking advantage of downtime, pushing through imposter syndrome and knowing when to outsource more mundane tasks, you’ll be on your way to creating a sustainable and profitable remote business.
How do you keep yourself motivated while working and traveling? Share with us in the Facebook Group: Remote Work & Travel Bloggers. With more than a thousand members, we’re here to support you on your digital nomad journey.