How to be productive while satisfying your wanderlust

This year, I have been travelling more than I have ever have. And I have been working on the road as well. The awesome part is that life is an adventure.

The challenging element though is being productive at work. Married to the excitement of going to a new place, is the anxiety involved in settling into alien surroundings. Every digital nomad has to signup for this burden when he starts on this journey. There is no hiding 😅.

My first few trips doing remote work have driven me to question the feasibility of this lifestyle. However I always yearned to spend long periods of time in some of the most beautiful places in India and the world. With this intention and lots of self-care, I have come to make some of my dreams come true while maintaining my sanity.

Here are the some of the things I learned on the way.

Eat the same food every workday or at least order from the same shop

“Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.” – Charles Duhigg

I know it’s a little boring, but the tradeoff is predictability and in turn headspace to get work done. I am sure you don’t feel pleased when you happen to have a bad meal. So leave the room for experimentation for dinner time or weekends.

When I was in Chiang Mai, I would go to the same place to have a hot bowl of rice noodles and chicken for lunch, and there was another place where I had fried rice. The nice side effect of this was that I formed a bond with the owners of the place. Likewise, here at Kohub where they have a catering service, I know that I don’t need to worry about food and I can focus on getting my work done.

Create a travel SOP (Standard Operating Process)

This one’s a big secret. Preparing for travel, in my opinion, is the most stressful time. What to pack in your bag. Which place to get your travel currency. Planning your itinerary. Booking your tickets and places of stay.

Wouldn’t it be much easier if you had a checklist of sorts which you could use before executing your travel plans. Documenting these processes, means that you don’t need to start from scratch on every new trip. I found that my packing list itself has reduced a lot of mental churn. Go try it and thank me later 😃

Incorporate some rituals in the day

There should be some routines which give structure to the day. Consider them to be the pillars which give strength to your monumental dreams.

One of the things I do is a home exercise circuit. It requires minimal setup and is an awesome way to get some blood flowing. The other habit, which I covet, is taking some time off at the start of the day to do a 15 minute guided meditation using headspace app. It helps to stay mindful even when you are in unfamiliar surroundings.

Get a good night’s rest every day

This one’s a no brainer. This is why I prefer staying in apartments rather than booking a bed in a dorm. I love hostels, but then having your place of quiet helps to recharge those dwindling batteries.

Also try to switch off all white light emitting devices by 9:00 pm (or 1 hour before bedtime). I have been guilty of browsing youtube and twitter feeds late into the night. And then, inadvertently, there is a lack of energy and focus the next day.

Choose the right work environment for you

When I used to get my morning dose of caffeine in Chiang Mai, I saw some people in the cafe with their laptops. I tried it one day but I found it to be distracting. I am sure it works for some people, but the environment was not conducive for me.

As you can guess from my work setup, I am very particular about my posture. I love my laptop stand. And I love coworking spaces. But if there is a table and chair at my place of stay, I like to work from home as well.

So yeah .. that’s it for now.

Some of these ideas I mention here, are important even when you are not wandering. But when you are working while travelling, it becomes 10x important. If you want freedom, you need to pay the price of freedom.

Let me know in the comments how you manage your work while travelling. Would love to hear what other people are doing to get the balance right 😎

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