Balancing Your Time as a Digital Nomad

Work-life balance can be challenging as a digital nomad, when it is up to YOU to decide when to work and what to work on. This can often lead us to feeling guilty when we’re not being productive or getting our work done! In this episode, I teach you how to properly manage your time so you are on top of your work AND have time to explore. Remember, you *can* have it all.

Moving from corporate into being a Digital Nomad often means that you bring a lot of your habits and mindsets with you that sometimes don’t align with the life you want to live and your business goals. This week I share the common trends I see with my clients and how you can work to balance your time as a digital nomad to earn money and live your dream travel life.

Prefer to read? Here’s the blog version…

How To Balance Work And Travel

Hi everyone. Welcome back to the podcast. Today I’m going to be talking about a very important topic, and this is a question that I get very frequently, and that is, how do I balance my time as a digital Nomad work?

Work-life balance can be challenging, especially when it is up to YOU to decide when to work, what to work on, and there is no manager to tell you exactly what to do, right or no company to set the rules. It truly is up to you and your willpower. And so what I see all the time is clients and community members, they feel guilty when they’re not working or being productive, or if they are out partying with their friends or having a nice dinner, they feel the inner sense of guilt because they’re not in front of their laptops. This is something that is really common and it is very important to get a hold of exactly how to structure your days and how to balance the work and travel side so that you can have your cake and eat it too.

Moving From Corporate into Digital Nomadism 

I wanna start by sharing something I’ve noticed over the years as many of my clients come from corporate backgrounds like me, and that makes sense because you tend to attract your own community and your ideal clients are usually just where you were a few years ago. And what I’ve noticed is that this sense of guilt is very much triggered by those of us who come from a corporate background when we’re taught the buzzwords work life balance or paid time off and concepts like those that we left, right? And I first experienced this when before I quit my job, I took one intentional day off, I requested a day off just to explore New York City with my laptop just to go out, do my own thing, plan out my own day to give me a glimpse as to what life would be like when I did quit my job, because that’s what I was planning.

And I remember I was walking around the East Village and I got lunch at this Chinese restaurant and there were so many people outside and in the restaurant, and I just remember thinking like, do these people have jobs? What are they doing? Because I couldn’t even imagine just being outside during the day on a weekday when I had work and I didn’t understand how so many people just didn’t have corporate jobs. I came from a very corporate mindset, right? And that day was very enlightening. It was great because it was a paid day off. So I got paid for it, and I got a sense of what freedom tasted like. I truly loved it.

And of course, when you do take proper vacations from a corporate job, you can completely Tune out and not work because those are paid days off, right? So I feel like a lot of my corporate clients or clients who come from corporate, they have a sense of what it’s like when you are quote unquote traveling with the safety net of income coming in. However, when we transition from a full-time job to then becoming digital nomads and entrepreneurs, we are fully responsible for the income coming in, right? So we kind of have to redefine what it means to travel.

And what I see, the trend that I see is that people, they quit their jobs and they embark on a six month or one year journey across Southeast Asia or South America, and they’re living on their savings, growing their social media, trying out the content creation because that is probably what they saw when they were in their corporate jobs, right? And I’ve been there too. And so when they are backpacking, it’s a matter of still kind of traveling as if you’re on vacation. The trend is that you move very frequently. It’s maybe a new country or a new city every single week. It’s very much go, go, go. And we haven’t developed the strategies, the workflow, the habits to make money while we are traveling because all we know is kind of like traveling while on vacation.

And mistakenly, a lot of new entrepreneurs think that If, you just sit in front of your laptop that is quote unquote work. I once met this fellow digital Nomad fellow traveler. I had a glimpse at his calendar, and every day, Monday through Friday for five hours, he had blocked out a chunk of time in his day and he named it admin. And I just remember being so confused like what is admin and what could possibly take five hours per day of your valuable sunshine time, right? Like five hours every day where you are in front of the computer. And it was very clear that even though he had the best of intentions to be productive and to work, it wasn’t clear and it wasn’t strategic.

The Savings Trap

What I also notice is when clients or new travelers or new entrepreneurs come from a corporate background and they have savings, I kind of nickname that savings pot, a comfort trap. And it’s not to say it’s a bad thing, but what I do notice is because there is this safety net, you can afford to not have to work every single day. It’s not like If, you take a day off, you’re gonna run out of money. You still kind of have that safety net, which is good, but it also is comfortable, comfortable in a sense where you’re never going to be homeless or you’re never gonna go hungry, but you constantly have that inner stress of money running out of the scarcity of when will this time, location, financial freedom end.

And you are constantly on a budget, you’re budgeting how much you can spend per night, per day, per country, per location. And it’s from a place of wanting to extend this for as long as possible, but prioritizing the wrong things because you have that safety net. Does that make sense? It’s like sometimes you are in this comfortable position so you you can get by and it’s not bad, but it’s not going to be forever. 

The Vacation Voice

And then the other part that I see is our inner voices, they start talking to us like, shouldn’t I be able to enjoy my life as if I’m on vacation? I left a corporate job where I was working 40, 50, 60 hours a week.

I want to be able to fully enjoy this time. And it makes sense because that’s the world you come from If, you came from a place where you had vacation days and you could travel and be completely free of work, then that’s fine. But no one talks about the part where you are now responsible for your own business. If, you had a location dependent business. Let’s say you opened up a restaurant, you would have to be there, right? You would have to be working, you would have to be in an office. And that’s usually what it takes to grow something to the level that you want it to be. So that means the guilt is twofold. The beginning part is I want to travel and experience this as freely as possible.

But then when you start hitting that savings pot, when you start teetering above and below your safety net, then that’s when the guilt of not working comes in because you’re like, oh my god, this might end. And then you feel threatened by your freedom, your time, location, financial freedom disappearing. You’re very threatened by that.

Creating Action

This is usually when I see people coming to me for help, when they start actually kicking themselves and being like, oh my God, I need to actually figure out the business part of my business and generating income so that I don’t have to go back to a corporate job so I don’t have to find another job and work for someone else.

And do you see that? It’s when you’re kind of teetering right below or right on the line of your comfort zone, your savings net, that’s when you start actually getting yourself in action. And of course you can do that as soon as you quit your job or as soon as you decide that you wanna start a business. But the trend that I see is that usually you don’t hit that until your security is threatened. And then what happens is we create a business plan. We’re like, okay, we need to start our business. We need to create offers, we need to start our social media. We create this plan to keep ourselves busy, but more so we create this plan from what we think will work, right?

Not what is tried and tested and what is custom to our unique situation. It’s just we think we should be posting on social media because that’s what we see. And the guilt. Now, the actual guilt comes in when you’re working, but you’re not seeing the results and the fruits of your labor. You’re putting in all the hours, but you’re not seeing income, you’re not seeing money come in. And it’s even, it’s an even bigger threat at this point because you’re like, I am working. I’m not going out to explore. I’m actually prioritizing my business and I am creating content on social media and I feel like I’m focusing on all the right things, but why am I not making enough to sustain this lifestyle?

And then this is where the rabbit hole comes in of like, oh my God, I think I have to go back to my corporate job. What can I do? Because let’s face it, the whole concept of a work life balance as a Digital Nomad only comes into place. If, you feel like you have projects to work on, you have systems to build, you have content to create, and you really feel like you have this driving factor behind this work-life balance. Because on the other hand, the best case scenario, If, you had more than enough money in the bank. If, you had systems in place, clients and customers coming in. You had monthly recurring revenue, you had your lead generation in place.

You could just go about your day-to-day prioritizing things like surfing, like exploring, like adventures. And then you would know exactly when you had to be in front of the computer because you would have client calls on your calendar, you had the money coming in. And it wouldn’t be this push and pull of, oh, I feel like I’m traveling too much, or, oh, I feel like I’m not working enough. You want to be at that place where you’re financially secure and you have all the freedom that comes with, it’s basically like going back to taking a vacation, being fully invested into the vacation and still having quote unquote the paid time off. 

Focus On Money Making Activities

So if you’re not at that place, which is where most of my clients aren’t when they first start working with me, the most important thing to note to yourself is that you need to be focused on money making activities.

With the money coming in, you’re not going to feel as guilty. And most likely you are working a lot, but not working on the right things. And that’s the last trend that I see with many of my new clients is that they are in front of the computer on their phones, but they’re either scrolling religiously, thinking they’re getting inspiration, but not focusing on the money making activities such as selling, pitching, investing in marketing, and actually doing the things to connect you, your business with your clients and customers so that they can pay you. Sometimes my new clients don’t even have offers.

And so if this is you, we need to really get a hold of what it is that you offering in your business. Is it content creation? Is it services? Are they products that we can build together? We need to be creating a business. We cannot just hope for money to enter into our bank accounts. Let’s say I was $50,000 ready to enter into your business right now. Can you tell me exactly how I can? Do you have the vehicles in place to accept huge amounts of cash and If? you don’t? Then that’s good news because it means that that is something we can work on. We wanna be prioritizing the money making activities. 

Get Organized

Next is to get organized. And what I mean by this is not only do you have your years, your months, your weeks, and your days planned in whatever systems or software you use, I use click up. I use my Google calendar, I use my Passion planner. This looks different for everyone. But If, you are not organized, if you don’t know what you’re working on when you sit down to work, that is valuable time that you could be spending somewhere else that you could be spending, traveling or exploring, right? We wanna minimize the amount of time it takes you to think about what it is that you need to do.

And we wanna minimize the amount of time it takes for you to actually get to work. We want you to sit down, know exactly what you have to work on, get those tests done, and then you know you can go surf. So get organized and find a system that works for you because you need to be acting like a CEO. 

Be Honest With Yourself

Next, be honest with yourself. Do you want to travel as if you’re on vacation, right? Did you save up all this time and money so that you could take six months off because If you did then enjoy that, fully enjoy that? Or are you at a place where you want to be a digital Nomad for the rest of your life? You want to build this incredibly successful, impactful business and you don’t wanna go back to corporate, you don’t want to worry about having to work for someone else because whatever you choose and whatever you state, let your actions follow suit.

Let’s say you do want this incredibly successful business, but then your actions say that you are just socializing and being with friends and traveling and saying yes to all the adventures that are in this new town every single day, your actions aren’t supporting that statement. So If, you are going to say you’re, you want to take time off of your business fully, allow yourself to don’t say one thing and then do another If. you say you’re dedicated to your business this week. Let your actions follow that statement and work on the systems, the processes that will make it easier for you to say yes to all those adventures in the future.

Outsourcing

Once you have an idea of how it is that you want your business to run, whether that is as a solo printer, as a very lean but strong team or If, you wanna expand to full-time staff members, ask yourself, do I need to outsource? What kind of manager do I want to be? Do I wanna be doing everything myself? And again, let your actions follow suit. Because if you’re saying you want 10 hours a day to just be free and not be with clients, then you probably need to be outsourcing some of the really time intensive tasks like content creation or replying to emails or pitching whatever it is that takes the most time.

If, you also want the most time, you need to think about expanding. So you’re not doing everything yourself. And what’s so incredibly freeing, but sometimes can be like debilitating for people, is being able to design your entire life and your entire schedule around what it is that works best for you. This is going to take a few months, a few years to really get the hang of things because you’re kind of shedding the old structured corporate identity and you are really exploring what works best for you. So with some of my clients, they work better at night, but they come from a corporate background where they worked eight to 6:00 PM and I really have to give them permission to say, it’s okay to set your working hours from five to 10:00 PM every day.

If, you work better in the evenings. It’s okay, If, you still want to work 40 hours because that’s just what you’re used to. Or it’s okay, If, you work better on a project to project basis, which means If, you don’t have a launch for example, then you don’t have to work. But then when you do have a launch for Q three or Q four, you can go all in, find what works best for you. It doesn’t have to be something that you learn from another person, like, this person is doing this, so I should be following exactly what they’re doing. You have the freedom and flexibility to set your work schedule and basically like design your life the way you want to.And that takes a lot of ownership and confidence that you know what’s best for yourself. 

Set Boundaries

And lastly, to summarize the often not talked about side of being a digital Nomad, especially coming from corporate, is that you’re going to have to set boundaries and say no. When you are, let’s say on vacation or If, you are backpacking or you just spent six months backpacking Asia, it’s very easy and you almost get used to just saying yes to everything that comes up, making friends with everyone and having all the time in the world and traveling very cheaply and being able to afford to do that. When you are a business owner, you have different priorities.

You’re gonna want to socialize and network with different people. You’re probably going to replace bar crawls with networking events, or you can do both, right? But I’m just saying your priorities are going to be different. And that means setting yourself up for success and giving yourself the time to work in your business and growing it to a place where then you can afford to take months and months off at a time without the fear of having to go back to a corporate job or to find another job that doesn’t serve. You know that the concept of work-life balance is going to look different for every single digital Nomad, especially dependent on the nature of your business, but also if you take all these tips into consideration if you have the income and the money making strategies in place.

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Danielle Hu

Danielle Hu

Danielle Hu is a multiple 6-figure travel influencer, business coach, and Founder of The Wanderlover. She has traveled to over 65+ countries running her online business and surfing in remote tropical destinations. Her mission is to help creatives and coaches achieve time freedom, location freedom, and financial freedom through online entrepreneurship.

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