3 Lessons I Learned This Summer Being a Digital Nomad.
"Back to Reality!"
"There You Are!"
These are three phrases I have been hearing A LOT this Monday. You see today, is my first day back at my home office since my summer trip to Jamaica.
When I started my business in 2014 - travel was number 5 on my list of my reasons WHY I wanted to start my business. I wanted to be able to merge the two seamlessly with little compromise! This summer I achieved a goal of living and working away for a part of the summer.
This year - I have had the opportunity to travel and work away 3 times and it has been amazing to see this come to fruition. With that being said, I have had some learning curves to balancing the work from anywhere life and so, I wanted to share with you my top 3 takeaways.
1. It Takes Discipline
Oh man - I thought working from home required discipline - WHEW! Working from a tropical island with unending gorgeous days, everyone else on vacation around you and warm Caribbean wind blowing through your window requires EVEN MORE discipline.
Especially with your family around.
Especially if you are the Chief Adventure Officer for your family.
Especially as the CEO of the company.
The first day I struggled to stay focused because there was a hummingbird dancing outside my window. So I quickly learned that if I was going to make the most of my work days - I needed to create a space for myself that was conducive to the quality of work I wanted to create.
For me, that meant NOT working on the patio as I had originally planned (see below) and planting myself at the dining room table - with headphones - facing away from the door.
Tip One for Digital Nomads:
You have to work - for the plan to work. Create a productive work space for yourself, even if it means removing yourself from a space you really enjoy. Even if it means facing a wall LOL.
2. Communication is Key!
While I was away, I let my family, friends and clients know that with the exception of 4 days, it was business as usual between the hours of Monday - Thursday: 9 am - 5 pm EST.
But here's the thing - at first - No One Believed Me.
Clients held back work they wanted to assign.
My family popped in and out whenever they felt like it.
My friends called me at will - because in their mind - I was on vacation!
And so I had to consistently remind everyone that I was online and ready to work or that I would not be available until after 5 pm. This ties back to discipline, but also communication.
This digital nomad/work from anywhere lifestyle is still a foreign concept for many people and so it's hard for them to marry the concept that you are working in a vacation atmosphere. So it did take some reassurance and some time for folks to get comfortable with the idea that they were not interrupting my vacation.
For clients - it meant checking in and letting them know that I was there, ready and able to handle anything they needed and not to hold back on the work load.
For friends and family - it meant reminding them in a loving way that I was running a business and I appreciated their support while I got through the business day. Thankfully my family was awesome with this but I could see at times how they wished I was 100% offline. Which meant for me, just owning and understanding that this was part of the live work balance that I wanted and not fall into a trap of feeling "guilty".
The balance, however, was worth it as I was able to enjoy my time, without the anxiety of things piling up in my to-do list back home.
Tip Two For Digital Nomads:
Communicate your needs, your availability and your boundaries so that you can truly enjoy the best of both worlds.
3. Expect The unexpected
Can we talk about how I was midway through my day two days before my last day when the power and internet went out? In the states, had this happened I could just pop into the closest coffee shop or tether from my phone.
But I was in Jamaica - and at that moment I wished I had invested in a data plan so that I could keep it going. But I had not, and the closest place to update my plan would be over an hour away, while my laptop was losing precious power.
In that moment I had a decision, grant myself grace and figure it out later OR give in to the grind to find a solution while my family suffered in the heat.
I communicated with my clients, coaching clients and team that I would be back on as soon as possible. I chose to grant myself grace and we went to a nearby beach while we waited for the power to come back on, which did not end up happening until much later in the evening.
That's island life for you.. we ended up having a beautiful day as a family and I caught up with my work later that night.
Tip Three for Digital Nomads:
Keep your Laptop Charged and Have a Backup Plan for Data! Had I had those in place, while it may not have taken me through a full workday, it would have helped me get myself in better order for the next day or later that evening.
A Quick Bonus Tip - BE OK WITH MISSING OUT.
If you are traveling with friends and family - while everyone else around you in vacation, don't be selfish and make them have to wait for you. Tell them to go do, be and play without you.
Yes you may miss out on an excursion or two, but this also removes that pressure of having people waiting for you to finish up your day.
This all being said, this summer was absolutely magical and I am looking forward to more "work away" trips with my family!
If you don't follow my personal Instagram page - check out my page for highlights from the trip: https://www.instagram.com/romainebpalmer/
Enjoy and let me know - if you were to work away - where would you go?