Your DlY guide to the digital nomad life

Want to travel the world 24/7? Not only is flexi-working proven to boost motivation, productivity and happiness, it's also the secret to maintaining an on-the-go lifestyle. Here's how to hack it.

A woman typing on her laptop sitting on a bean bag
  • Jenny Hewett
  • March 2020

Live, work, travel: it’s possible to do it all at once, and that’s exactly what digital nomads do. The antithesis of 9-5 (let’s face it, more like 8-7) in the office, digital nomads use technology to work remotely and go one step beyond remote workers by being “location independent” – that is, they can work from anywhere. Why be physically present for a 30-minute meeting if you can get the same job done using Google Hangouts while sitting in a café in Bali?

More than 4.8 million US workers describe themselves as digital nomads. Totally reliant on Wi-Fi, nomads are a growing part of the remote workforce, fuelling the rise in demand for co-working spaces, job sites and information-based sites that rate cities around the world based on cost, internet, fun and safety.

Obviously there are careers that require a home base, but for those who want to work on the go (and can), there are the three key areas to focus on: finances, productivity and time management.

A woman typing at her laptop next to a cup of tea
Cafes and co-working spaces are the natural homes of digital nomads.

The first area to consider is managing finances. “Keep track of your cash flow and make sure you invoice for your work immediately on completion,” says John Kennedy, director at Tide Financial. “Don’t forget about tax. Being hit with a large tax bill at the end of the year could mean the end of your flexi career. A good discipline to have is to save at least 20 per cent of every assignment income for the taxman.”

The next aspect to consider is keeping track of your productivity. “Get your most important work done first and do admin at the end of the day. Check emails three times per day, rather than constantly getting interrupted by a ping in your inbox,” says Clare Robinson, from Clarety Coaching & Consulting.

A woman on her laptop sitting in a campervan
Digital nomads enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with being location independent.

And last, but not least, watch your time management. “Learn to manage your energy and not time spent on the job. If you’re vital and thriving then you can add more value. Structure your time in a way that optimises this. As humans, we operate in 90-minute cycles of energy known as an ultradian rhythm,” says Clare. “Stick to 90-minute blocks, taking 15-minute breaks in between. Scrolling on social media doesn’t count as a break!”

Here’s the lowdown on what it’s really like to live the life of a digital nomad.