20 ways to be productive as a Nomad

Find it difficult to find ways to be productive as a nomad? You’re at the third coffee shop of the morning. Why? It’s the first one with fast wifi. It’s time to finish the deliverable that’s due at noon. But wait. Noon in the client’s timezone. So, that means… 4 am this morning.

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If this sounds like fun day in and day out, stop reading right now. However, if you prefer staying productive on the road, keep reading to learn the best ways to get more done in less time with less headache.

Must-Have Software

1. Dropbox / Drive

Without secure cloud storage, we’re just nomads. Since this is our most important tool, consider purchasing an upgraded Dropbox plan so you have more storage and can wipe devices in case something happens on the road. Also take time to learn about hidden features.

2. Evernote

Anything and everything else can be stored in the cloud with Evernote and easily accessed offline across all of your devices. Business cards, receipts, photos, journals, audio files, passwords, articles, whiteboard sessions, restaurant recommendations, and even code snippets. The list is truly endless.

3. World Time Buddy

Use the app or website to effortlessly schedule meetings and calls with anyone around the world. Insert locations then visually pick when’s best. See for yourself:

Screenshot of the world time buddy app.

4. Hangouts / Skype /UberConference

You’ll need a reliable service for international conference and video calls. Uber Conference is the most professional and has international dial-in numbers. Hangouts can be automatically created with Google Calendar events. Call anywhere with Skype for one low price per minute.

5. Polymail

It’s the best email client for life on the road. Track opens, schedule to send later, use templates, and receive follow-up reminders. The best part is that you login with one set of credentials and have access to all of your accounts. Did we mention that it auto-filters promotions, updates, and social emails from your inbox?

6. Trello

This is your project management home base. Visually organize and collaborate on any kind of project. It’s easy to use, and you can start organizing your work in less than 30 seconds. Trello integrates with Drive, Dropbox, Slack,Evernote, GitHub, and so many other tools.

7. Zapier

Their words say it best: “Connect your apps and automate your workflow. Zapier moves info between your web apps automatically.” As a distributed team themselves, Zapier aims make you as productive as possible and eliminate wasted time. Explore what all it can do and subscribe to their blog.

8. VPN

Since we’re constantly using new networks and working in public places, we need to protect ourselves. There’s no excuse for compromising personal and financial information when VPN’s are unbelievably easy to use and cost less than a Starbucks coffee. Nomadic Matt gives a great overview of your options, although our personal favorite is Private Internet Access for $3.33 per month.

9. WHA & WorkFrom.Co

Find a place no matter where you are in the world. Stop searching for fast WiFi and head straight to a place with coffee, A/C, and other remote workers. Search for coworking spaces, cafes, coffee shops, libraries, and even public places.Locations are crowdsourced with reviews from real users.

Tips & tricks from our experience

10. Plan Ahead & Get Organized

Staying organized is the singular best way to be productive on the road. Find a system that works for you, plan the week ahead, and be ruthless about organizing your time. While it seems obvious, a calendar works miracles when used properly.Create filters. Set due dates. Input travel plans. Add everything.

11. Chunk & Time Block

Group similar tasks together and complete them one after another in one sitting. Block out 2–3 hours in your calendar for uninterrupted work without any distractions. Fast Company gives a great guide.

12. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain famously said: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Start each day by tackling the most important (or ugly & disgusting) task that you would normally procrastinate all day long. You’re going to have to do it at some point, so do it first. Get it done. Tackle it head on. You’ll feel like a champion and everything else will be a breeze.

13. Take Breaks

Stretch, drink some water, go for a walk, and take your mind off of your work for a few minutes. After sitting in the same coffeeshop or coworking space for hours at a time, taking a break will actually increase your productivity. The Pomodoro Technique works miracles. Just try it.

14. Get Things Done

Clearly, you should get things done to be productive, but we’re referring to DavidAllen’s timeless system for stress-free productivity. Follow the process below and use the tools above to automate as much as possible to reduce stress and increase productivity on the road.

Workflow about how to process, organize.

15. Journal

Yes, we mean a journal with a real pen and real paper. Keep the barriers as low as possible so you’ll follow through. If you force yourself to answer a ton of questions, it becomes a chore. Write about three simple questions: 1) What was the best thing from today?; 2) What was the worst thing from today?; and, 3)Why? Tell the page anything and everything. It’s your therapist on the road.

Optimizing the nomadic lifestyle

16. Test WiFi Speeds

At times it can feel like we’re endlessly in search of a solid WiFi connection. Check internet speeds before arriving somewhere.Don’t hesitate to ask the Airbnb owner, call the coworking space, or search online. As soon as you sit down, use SpeedTest.net to check the connection. The headache of moving is better than aspotty WiFi network.

17. Keep a Consistent Schedule

We understand that it can be almost impossible while on the road, but keeping a consistent work schedule is critical. If mornings are best, set aside this time and don’t let anything get in the way. Without a consistent work schedule, your entire life is dynamic day in and day out. We’re always in new cities, cultures, and environments, so any kind of consistency helps.

18. Eliminate Distractions

It’s harder to focus today than it’s ever been. As if social media and our cell phones weren’t enough, we’re fortunate enough to have, literally, the entire world in front of us. There’s always something competing for our attention, but do not disturb can be your best bet for productivity. Here are 14 tools for eliminating distractions.

19. Use Wasted Travel Time

Stressing out and getting upset do nothing to help with layovers, cancelled flights, and long bus rides. See what would normally be wasted time as an opportunity to brainstorm, strategize, and get creative. Great ideas can come from long flights without WiFi. Keep a running list of creative tasks that can be done withoutWiFi and pull that out instead of your hair.

20. Unplug

Tim Ferriss, the forefather of this lifestyle, sums it up perfectly: “I like work/life separation, not work/life balance. What I mean by that is, if I’m on,I want to be on and maximally productive. If I’m off, I don’t want to think about work. When people strive for work/life balance, they end up blending them.”

When you decide it’s time to stop working, stop working altogether, unplug completely, and enjoy the wonderful world in front of you.

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