What Is a Digital Nomad And How to Know If It’s For You

So, your interest has been piqued. Maybe over the last year or so, you’ve pondered what on earth this digital nomad experience is and wondered if it was possible for you. Maybe you’ve seen knowledge workers in your network pack up and leave but retain their current job, posting pictures on Instagram or Linkedin with a laptop and sunset combo.

You’ll not be surprised to know that since the pandemic—when the majority of us were forced to blur the lines between personal and professional space—the trend of the digital nomad lifestyle has skyrocketed. Some research says it’s up as much as 112%.[1] American workers describing themselves as digital nomads alone has gone up by 49%. Even I did it in 2021!

So, what is a digital nomad? And can it now be a real lifestyle option for you to explore?

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. What Is a Digital Nomad?
  2. How I Became a Digital Nomad
  3. Tips to Know if Being a Digital Nomad Is for You
  4. Final Thoughts

What Is a Digital Nomad?

Digital nomads are people who live their life in a nomadic manner, traveling to or staying in different places while engaging in remote work using digital technology. In short, they are remote workers or have the flexibility to work anywhere around the world as long as they have access to digital telecommunication technology.

How I Became a Digital Nomad

Early in 2021, my partner and I sold our home in London without a long-term fixed place to go to. Having been stuck indoors for most of 2020 and adapting to the working from home approach since 2019, we both had itchy feet and I had gotten used to still doing a good job without a location being relevant.

So, we threw all of our remaining gear and the dog into the back of our Hyundai i20 and ventured across the UK staying in Airbnbs for the majority of the year.

At that time, I didn’t think I needed the traditional ownership of bricks and mortar to feel settled. I was content with my job. They were fine with me moving about, and as long as I felt good mentally, it was good to go. So, that was me, officially a digital nomad—scouting the next area to live, the “try before you buy” approach, living and working in temporary homes, solely reliant on Wi-Fi and retaining minimal possessions to move around freely.

But the spectrum is a little wider than that with other digital nomads also being perpetual travelers, jumping from country to country, and timezone to timezone with the tech needed to perform to a level needed for their own business as an entrepreneur or within an organizational setting.

Basically, a digital nomad is someone who combines work and travel to some extent!

Tips to Know if Being a Digital Nomad Is for You

2021 came and went, and we are now back in rented accommodation and will be here for another year at least. But during that nomad experiment, there were some great experiences and some not so great.

So, take a look at this guide to see if being a digital nomad is right for you.

1. Understand What’s Possible

The key thing before you start working out which beautiful part of the world you want to work from is to understand the art of the possible. If you are already employed by an organization and plan to keep that employment but move around, speak to your line manager and HR departments first.

It’s also wise to understand who else has already gone before you. It could save an argument. A line manager or leadership team with fixed mindsets could potentially stop this dead in its tracks before it’s even started.

Consider working with decision-makers on experiments where you work somewhere for a month to test the waters and also to reassure those people that you can still perform to the required level no matter where you are.

Others may feel uncomfortable about you not being near an office, so I’m afraid it may be down to you to give them some flexibility. If you run your own business, you’re the boss.

2. Country Restrictions and Limitations

A boring but worthy piece of research, if you are exploring worldwide being a digital nomad, you may need to check on working visas, required vaccinations, Wi-Fi speeds, cost of living, minimum earnings, and tax, especially if your organization is based in one country and not in a place you’re heading to. You don’t want to be caught with below-expected cash flow in another part of the world on a technicality.

Since the UK left the European Union, digital nomad visas for non-EU nomads in some European countries are encouraged. Countries like Italy, Portugal, and Spain have recently joined Malta, Estonia, Germany, and others around the world in opening their doors to digital nomads to help revitalize cities and local economies that have been hit by that P-word again.

European countries want digital nomads, so now could be the ideal time to start thinking about this.

3. Tech

I got caught out a couple of times with properties that had below-par Wi-Fi, and that did impact the quality of my work.

Zoom calls freezing, quality of sound lower than expected, and frustration when the reception went down by severe weather or random farm animals interfering with things. These issues can’t be avoided sometimes, so it’s good to be adaptable. But I did buy some additional data that I connected to my main devices, so if the Wi-Fi goes down, I could work okay for shorter periods.

I also had two phones, for personal and work, that were on different networks, just in case the place we stay in is in a bad patch for one provider but not for the other.

4. Personal and Professional Growth

One key thing that may not be as widely connected to professional life is that traveling can be just as powerful, if not more so for personal growth, as on-the-job training or courses. These growth experiences ultimately make people better and build a wide range of in-demand skills.

Even just getting by in different cultures helps you overcome challenges, become a better listener, level up problem-solving abilities, and build soft skills—better known as human skills—like resilience, perseverance, communication, maturity, confidence, and prioritization. All of these are key elements for modern talent that organizations would be recruiting for anyway.

According to Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, visiting a foreign place and taking part in the local environment, “increases your cognitive flexibility and enhances depth and integrativeness of thought.”[2]

So, if you are looking for some support in convincing your boss, there you have it. Good for you, good for the team, and good for the organization.

5. Financials

This can swing both ways. The pros we had in 2021 were no debt whatsoever, no mortgage, no rent to pay, and only minimal personal bills. The core outgoings were mainly for groceries and the Airbnb we were staying in.

All other previous general living costs were gone—no home internet bills, council tax, home insurance, household repairs, gas, electricity, and water, as this was all part of being at someone else’s holiday home.

Of course, living and working in countries where your money goes further can help with all of this, but the decisions you make as to the level of comfort and luxury you want to be living and working in will determine all of this.

6. Chasing the Holiday Feeling

We’ve all been there. You visit a place and have such a wonderful experience that you start to wonder what it would be like to live there, to have that holiday feeling all the time whilst getting paid.

I get it and chasing that feeling can become addictive, but this digital nomading lark requires an incredible amount of discipline and organization, something that may be lacking when you’re in that holiday freedom mode. You have to do work.

We’ve heard the phrase “planning is half the fun” and for me, it really is. Creating a year’s worth of digital nomading living in seven different places across the UK, researching costs, negotiating with Airbnb hosts, navigating the local areas, and the rest were also enjoyable.

However, one thing to ask is: will you have the energy and time to capture that feeling of freedom and carefree living?

Overworking can easily creep in, and before you know it, you’ve just been on your laptop all week working in someone else’s house. Nothing else has changed, just your view of the kitchen.

To get the best out of being a digital nomad, you must try and keep limits on how much you work and also put energy and effort into being present, heading out to local areas, finding out what events are going on, and maybe even enjoying better weather!

You don’t want your main impression to be a slightly different zoom background.

7. Creature Comforts and Environmental Impacts

I had got used to taking a short walk to the local shop or ordering Deliveroo. I rarely used a car other than to visit friends or family. But as soon as we spent time in remote parts of the country where there were no uber or shops within walking distance, the use of my car increased massively—daily even.

Simple things like going to get a haircut, buying groceries, grabbing a takeaway. Everything was at least a 20-minute drive both ways, and I was conscious that nothing during that stay would be quick. Every trip away from that house to do something needed an hour slot, even the nearest pub was a drive away!

It took me a few weeks to get used to this, but as I mentioned earlier, I adapted. Humans are pretty good at adapting, but I was very conscious of how much more petrol I was buying and the increased level of fumes I was kicking out while damaging my tiny Hyundai on country roads covered in potholes.

Bored at Work? Here’s Why And What To Do

It’s Monday again… The annoying alarm breaks the piece of silence you are enjoying. You keep pressing snooze and don’t want to leave your bed. As the hour hand points to 8, every muscle in your body feels sore.

You arrive in your office and turn on the computer at your seat. Everything seems so normal, except your mind wanders… you’re feeling bored at work…

If this sounds familiar to you, chances are you feel bored at work, and you are probably here to look for ways to get rid of this dreadful situation.

We’re all bored at work at some point. Some of us are even bored most of the time; some jobs are just plain boring. But just because the work you do isn’t as exciting as House of Cards doesn’t mean you have to actually let it make YOU boring, too.

In this article, I’ll look into why you may feel bored at work, the little-known consequences of it, and things to do when bored at work.

The Real Reason Why You’re Bored at Work

Boredom reveals the potential problems you have at work. If you’re always wondering “why am I bored with my job?” this may be because of the following:

You have too much idle time.

It’s important to take breaks at work. But when you are too free, it is a problem.

When you have too much idle time, your mind wanders off to somewhere else:

Thinking about where to eat, your relationship problems, or what your neighbor said this morning.

Although your mind is occupied, these thoughts are generated because you are bored.

Your interest and your work don’t match.

It’s very common that our work doesn’t match our interest, but we might not realize it sometimes. It’s good for you to think about why you applied for this job and why you started your job at the first place:

Because the salary was attractive? Or you had no other options but this job interview? Or you just wanted a new environment?

If these are your major concerns, you need to reconsider your interests in this job.

You’re not using your capabilities fully.

Everyone has their strengths and talents. When your capabilities are not fully utilized at your job, you may find the assigned tasks not challenging at all.

Worse still, you may start to question your value in your company and gradually lose motivation at work.

You have little opportunity for growth and learning.

Imagine you do the same tasks for two weeks, or two months, or two years, over and over. How would you feel? I’m sure you’ll be bored to death.

If your company doesn’t provide enough opportunities to grow and learn, and you can’t see any improvement, you will start to get disappointed and probably feel bored at your job.

You feel exhausted and tired.

You have so many goals to achieve in life or things to manage beyond work. It’s easy to shift your attention and energy away from your work because you are too occupied with other parts of your life.

When you pay less effort at work, you become less motivated and interested you are in your job, which in turn bores you even more.

You have no clear goal.

People who have stayed in a position for a long time easily feel lost.

ou start to get confused with what you want to obtain from the job. You get used to your repeating daily routine and gradually lose your passion and interests in your job.

The Little-Known Consequences of Ignoring Your Boredom

You might think it’s okay to deal with your boredom later, but the longer you put this problem on hold, the more consequences you will face.

Don’t ignore your boredom, it might take a toll on you!

Increased stress

A number of readers of Stress Relief Workshop commented:[1]

  • Boring jobs can be really stressful.
  • Feeling like your skills are going to waste in your current job can be stressful.

Developing bad habits

Experts reckon people relieve their boredom by drinking alcohol, indulging in unhealthy food, or carrying out risky actions at work.

When you leave your problem unsolved, you might find stimulation elsewhere to override your boredom.

Poor mental health

A study[2] shows an upsetting fact young adults or fresh graduates may develop depressions or black moods, because they:

“find themselves having to do work that doesn’t stretch them and keep them fulfilled.”

Low productivity

Like I mentioned before, when you are bored and uninterested in what you do, your productivity drops drastically.

16 Things to Do When You’re Bored at Work

Boredom won’t go away unless you take action.

Wondering what to do when bored at work? Fortunately, we’ve gathered some ideas for you.

1. Know what you want from your job

This is important — when you know your goal, it can motivate you to work!

It’s fine to take some time to discover your goal and passion. But please remember to jot it down on a note and stick it on your desk as a reminder.

You may also consider some career advice if you need help.

2. Pump up the volume

Wondering what to do when you are bored at work? You might try infusing the office with some music!

Music can infuse fun and can serve as a great tension breaker so it’s definitely worth trying.

3. Do a Bit of Work

This may sound obvious, but try to do some work when you’re bored at work! Work is probably the hardest thing to do when you’re bored, but it’s still possible to muscle through the lethargy and get things done.

If you’re unmotivated, remind yourself that your time best spent is doing the work that pays your income. A cash incentive goes a long way towards productivity.

If you’re really having a hard time doing any work, spend your free time making a to-do list of everything you want to get done once you find some motivation. This may also help you set goals for the week.

4. Combine repetitive tasks to get them out of the way

Think of what things to do when bored? Before you find out the answer, you must know that certain tasks are difficult to make interesting, no matter how hard you try.

Get these yawn-inducing chores out of the way ASAP by combining them into one quick, focused batch. This is one surefire way to learn how to make your job interesting.

For example, if you hate listening to meeting recordings, and dislike tidying your desk, do them both at the same time.

You’ll half the time you spend bored out of your mind, and can move onto more interesting tasks as soon as you’re done. When you try this tip, you will find out why it’s one of the most productive things to do when bored at work.

5. Cut Down Distractions

Is there anything in particular that’s distracting you? If you’re looking for productive things to do when you’re bored, zone in on what specifically is slowing down your productivity.

Social media is a popular detractor, for example[1]. Sign out of your social networks so you can focus on things that actually matter.

Other distractions may include the small task your boss gave you that you haven’t done or the pile of emails waiting for your attention. Even if you only eliminate one distraction, it’ll be a step in the right direction.

6. Give yourself regular rewards

Rewards can be anything that makes you feel good

Make sure you reward yourself for achievements, even if they feel small.

This could include:

  • Eating your favorite snack.
  • Taking a walk in a natural area.
  • Spending a few minutes on a fun online game.
  • Buying yourself a small treat.
  • Visiting a new place.
  • Spending time on a favorite hobby.

Your brain will come to associate work with fun rewards, and you’ll soon feel less bored and more motivated.

7. Try to do more than you are expected to

To use your ability and time fully, try to do more than what your boss requires. After you finish the repetitive or unchallenging tasks, spend some time to take on tasks that are beyond your responsibilities.

As time goes by, your boss will notice and recognize your work ethic. You may get interesting tasks in the future to keep you going!

8. Learn new skills when you are free

This is one of the best things to do while bored at work.

If you have too much downtime, expand your knowledge and learn something new. A well-equipped person is always the gem in a boss’ eyes.

For example, if you work in the design team but are not familiar with the use of design software, it’s a good chance for you to have some self-learning time.

9. Get some exercise

If you don’t have a lot of energy to do something mental, hopefully you at least have the energy to partake in a physical activity.

If you are bored at work, figuring out what to do with your time is integral.

Some productive things to do at work, or at least during your breaks, walking and stretching.

Any kind of exercise is likely to free you from boredom and improve your physical health. If these sound too taxing, try a slow yoga routine or some light stretching.

Whatever you do, just try to stay active to get your brain back on track!

10. Go on lunch dates

Feeling bored at work? There is a networking site online called “Let’s Lunch?” that can match you up with someone in your area for lunch during the workweek.

You can connect your social profile, provide your availability and set a meeting place. The site will match you up with someone just like you. It’s a great way to grow your network without spending much time and effort.

If not, consider calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, ask your mom or dad to grab a coffee, or see if your partner wants to go for a short walk on your lunch break.

Even if it’s just a few minutes, the people you care about will appreciate the gesture, and you’ll feel better after spending time with someone you love.

11. Take breaks to fight exhaustion

Taking rest is a preparatory step for a longer journey ahead. Don’t ever hesitate to take a break. You need it!

It’s crucial for you if you want to achieve more. Just get back to work when you feel ready. Don’t underestimate the power of a short break!

12. Eliminate Concerns

Are you worried about something? Is that concern getting in the way of your productivity?

Deal with the problems that are keeping you from spending your time as well as you should by tapping into time management skills. You can double-check your schedule and send follow-up emails to create more time for things you care about.

By removing all of your stressors, you’ll be a lot more prolific.

If you’re not sure what you’re concerned about, try to use some down time to do a few minutes of meditation at your desk. It’ll create the space in your mind to help you figure out what’s worrying you.

13. Tell your boss or supervisor about your working situation

It’s always good for you to talk to your boss or supervisor if they welcome feedback. They should be the right people to talk to as they can understand and help you.

You can request for more challenging tasks or work that fit your interests. This can not only get you out of boredom, your boss will also appreciate your willingness to improve and learn.

14. Try telecommuting

Bored in office settings? You’ll be surprised what a difference spending one day a week in your pajamas can make.

More and more employers are realizing how beneficial it can be to let employees work remotely for a few days out of the month.

The occasional mixing up of your routine—and avoiding your commute—can be a real treat. That day of work will almost feel like a vacation and will become something to look forward to.

15. Quit your job if it’s holding you back

Experiencing constant boredom at work is not normal. If you still find your work boring after trying every single method above, you should consider quitting your current job.

Opportunities are everywhere, there may be a better job waiting for you.

Make a change in your life and treat yourself better!

16. Give Some Attention to Your Mental Health

Is there a personal issue that’s making it hard for you to be interested in anything? If so, address it. You’ll find productivity a whole lot easier.

Boredom is often, in reality, something akin to anxiety or depression. Try doing mental exercises that help you focus on positive experiences and mindfulness to alleviate you of what you’re perceiving as boredom.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation can calm and relax you. Other ways to tackle your mental and emotional health include meditation, journaling, talking with friends, or exercising. Pick the one that works for you and get started.

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