Imagine: you are stuck in a traffic jam every day, drive to the same office address, try to focus on something important but keep being interrupted by phone calls, high noise levels and interruptions by meetings and colleagues. You end up coming in very early or leaving very late, and at the end of the day you are asking yourself what you did all day.
And now imagine: you are free to choose where you want to work from today or during the next few weeks. You work in slippers and a t-shirt. All you need is your laptop and an internet connection. Your use your time to focus on what matters most and feel proud that you get to get things done.
What a difference from the first to the second imagination! The latter describes the lifestyle of a so called digital nomad. They work remotely, from home, coffeeshops, public libraries or other places and do not have mandated business hours. And they do what used to be done in stationary workplaces.
Lifestyle for the chosen ones?
For sure, not every job is well suited to be performed remotely. A doctor needs to see his patients and a policeman can only contribute to law and order if he/she is around. However, I am sure that there is a huge number of jobs that could be performed by the same people from anywhere in the world with all the positive side effects that come with that.
Of course you need some preparation before you can work remotely and develop into a digital nomad. Apply these tweaks to work towards more freedom and eventually to a digital nomad lifestyle:
- Start small. There is no point in knocking the wheel around and decide to do all things differently from now. Instead, work yourself towards your goal in small increments and celebrate success as you go along. For example, start with 1 day per week for a defined period of 3 months. If you really want to give it a try, you and your employer need some time to practice and get used to it.
- Save your documents in a cloud. For me, dropbox and google documents work very well. These services ensure you can access your documents from anywhere, even on your mobile phone. If multinational pharmaceutical companies like the Roche Group do it that way, you can do it, too.
- Forget about printing documents. Even banks and governmental agencies accept electronic signatures these days. Take a moment to think about a reasonable folder structure. Make sure you name your documents with enough level of detail so you can find them again. Be aware that electronically stored documents can easily be found via search functions.
- Set yourself goals and track your performance. This is applicable if you are self employed and even more important when you report to a boss as an employee. When physical presence and staying late is not a measure of merit anymore you have to make sure your efforts are trackable and recognised.
- Find out what tools work best for you to communicate internally and externally. Lengthy chats via email are surely not the most efficient way to exchange information. Check email only twice or three times per day. Use dedicated project- and communication applications to track progress.
If you decide to go all in and hit the road I would add the following:
- Reduce your expenses: reduce your running costs at home as much as you can when travelling. For example, you can sublet your house and/or sell your car. And keep in mind that costs of living vary significantly from country to country and even within a country.
- Think about contingencies. Make sure you have backup plans. This includes health insurance, financials, passport and Visa.
- Invest some time in planning. Particularly when you are a novice traveller it’s worthwhile to research where you want to go and what level of comfort to expect at the chosen destination.
For further reading I highly recommend the following books:
The 100$ Startup
Chris Guillebeau visited all 193 countries before his 35th birthday. He shows how to live a life of adventure, meaning and purpose and turned his lifestyle into a business.
The book explains based on case studies how to set up and run a business that makes more than USD 50’000 with a very modest upfront investment of USD 100, sometimes even less. He describes how people with no special skills or education discovered how to restructure their lives by monetising on their personal passions.
“In this valuable guide Chris Guillebeau shows that transforming an idea into a successful business can be easier than you think…You are in charge of which ideas deserve your time, and this book can help you wake up every morning eager to progress to the next step.” Tony Hsieh, New York Times bestselling author of Delivering Happiness and CEO of Zappos.com
The 4-Hour Workweek
Tim Ferriss’ book “the 4-hour workweek” is sometimes referred to as the “digital nomad bible”. He was one of first writers who published a guide to “Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”.
“Stunning and amazing. From mini-retirements to outsourcing your life, it’s all here. Whether you’re a wage slave or a Fortune 500 CEO, this book will change your life!”
Phil Town, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Rule #1
The Year Without Pants
What happens when an old-school management guru leaves the books and lectures behind to lead a young team at a revolutionary company, with no email, no offices and no rules? The answer is an amazing and entertaining book about the future of work.
This book challenges the core pillars of our assumptions how work is done:
- Employees work remotely, from wherever in the world they wish
- No one uses email, preferring customised blogs and online chat
- There are no schedules, few meetings and fewer rules
- Workers launch new ideas and features dozens times a day
“The underlying concept – an expert putting himself on the line as an employee – is just fantastic. And then the book gets better from there! I wish I had the balls to do this.”
Guy Kawasaki, Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur
Distance is an illusion. We are lucky to live in an age where planes and communication technologies have made the world smaller than ever. There are new opportunities galore. We are on the brink of a revolution that will change the way we live, work and play. And the good news is – you can be part of it.
This book includes:
- A step-by-step guide to setting up your online business
- How to design your own international masterplan
- The countries your money stretches furthest
- Inspiring stories from digital nomads around the world
“To many people, being a digital nomad still seems like a dream lifestyle that’s not attainable. This book changes all of that for you by revealing everything you need to know to be fully prepared for a location independent life, from what to pack, where to stay, to your ideal tax setup, how to get the best wifi and everything in between. It’s quite possibly the most complete guide to quitting your job, going on the road, traveling the world and having the most amazing time. The question is…. are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime?”
Natalie Sisson, The Suitcase Entrepreneur