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Become a digital nomad

The digital nomad. It’s a name that evokes a certain romanticism, an inability to be tied to one place, and a freedom that most people simply don’t enjoy. Indeed, the professional life of a digital nomad can have a huge range of benefits compared to being stuck in an office. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all too easy to become one. Here, we’re going to look at what it takes, and the tools you need to equip yourself with to become a digital nomad.

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What is a digital nomad?

Simply put, the digital nomad is a worker or business owner who does their work while travelling? By using co-working spaces, stopping in coffee shops, or finding other spaces to work, they do the majority of their job through wireless internet devices that enable them to do their work anywhere on any device. Most people turn to the digital nomadic lifestyle to get away from the 9-5 and to facilitate travel across the world.

Time-tracking and work management tools

One of the biggest challenges of the digital nomad is finding the way to work that gets you at your most productive. Since your work life is entirely self-motivated, you don’t have anyone else to rely on when it comes to setting your schedule. As such, it’s easier than you might think to let procrastination and poor planning lead to several wasted hours.

There are time-tracking tools and work management tools, such as Trello (a project management suite) and TrackingTime (a scheduling, workload tracking tool) that can help with that. You can look at the work you do each day, when your most productive hours are, and schedule the days ahead. One way to use these tools is to plot out different “chunks” or even shares of time throughout the day, and allocate each to a specific task or series of tasks you want to accomplish. That way, you don’t get stuck wasting your time on one task when there’s so much more to be done.

A Cloud-based office suite

Most people are going to need an office suite to do work on a computer. This might include word processing tools, database creation tools, spreadsheet tools, slideshow presentation tools, and more. These office suites are almost as old as desktop computers themselves, but the digital nomad needs a suite that’s especially suited to the way that they work. Simply put, a digital nomad has a location independent career, so they need location independent software, as well.

That’s precisely what Cloud-based office suites are. They are based online, so they can be accessed from anywhere and on any device. Many of them also come with Cloud storage capabilities. As such, even if you’re using the same device throughout your career as a nomad, you don’t run the risk of overloading your own hard drive with documents that could slow it down and eventually make you much less efficient.

When it comes to working with remote teams or clients, Cloud-based office suites allow you to set access and edit permissions with different people and to share documents very easily. The free Google Suite is perhaps the best known example of this, but Office 365, while paid, is significantly more feature rich.

The right communication tools

Whether you’re working as a remote member of a team, collaborating with others in a business that you technically own, or simply keeping in touch with your clients, you’re going to need to have better methods of communication. Instant messaging and emails alone often aren’t enough. For instance, when it comes time to make or receive phone calls, it’s not always easy on the road. A virtual receptionist and address can make sure that even when you’re out of reach, you’re never out of touch. You can get back to any messages left to you and respond as soon as you’re able.

Web video conferencing tools such as Skype can be very useful, too, when it comes to setting up face-to-face meetings with clients and partners. For internal communication, Slack is a must-have tool that offers instant messaging, group sharing, and the ability to manage and organise different conversations and groups that goes way beyond what any other instant messaging software has to offer. You can have individual conversations, but you can also have channels dedicated to different topics and teams, allowing you to easily keep track of different conversations.

A VPN

There’s one concern that people might have about working with a digital nomad and it’s one that’s very valid. Unless you’re carrying your own digital hotspot or relying entirely on paid, private networks, you’re going to be using a public network at some point. This puts your own data at risk, but it could put at risk the data of your clients or of the teams that you’re working with. For that reason, a virtual private network, or VPN, is absolutely essential.

VPNs create a secure network, allowing you to evade both interference and censorship. Effectively it involves connecting your computer to the network through a proxy, that can be located anywhere in the world. All the data reaching your computer first goes through this proxy, meaning that there’s a layer of separation between you and hackers.

Furthermore, VPNs offer several more security provisions, such as entirely hiding your IP address and location, encrypting your communications and more. There are even VPNs that are optimised towards different purposes. For instance, some of the options from your VPN provider might be optimised towards streaming, so they would be better equipped to handle video conferencing calls. When it comes to working as a digital nomad, using a VPN is a security tip that cannot be stressed enough.

Can you live the nomadic lifestyle?

The above tools will help you make the transition to the life of a digital nomad, but you need to ensure that you’re ready for that switch, too. It can be a demanding, even lonely life, at points, one that’s one for everyone. But if you’re the right fit for it, the freedom it offers is unmatched.

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