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Digital Nomad: Your Seven Essential Lifehacks

Digital Nomad: Your Seven Essential Lifehacks

Whether you’re a digital nomad already, or somebody who is just toying with the idea of taking the plunge, these essential lifehacks will help as you carry on down your path.

I myself lived on the edges of the digital nomad world for years before finally going all in just under one year ago. In fact, I’d not even heard of the term digital nomad until some guys I work with suggested that I write a book for them based on my experiences. A savvy English girl repeated the term to me very shortly after during our first conversation together next to the Indian Ocean. I liked the sound of it, it felt right, and I was happy that I was on my way to becoming one.

Below is a concise and in no way exhaustive list of some of the things that I’ve learnt in my first year as a fully signed-up digital nomad. Alongside some of the other complimentary knowledge I already had after living the best parts of my adult life on the road.

A Good Freelance Platform

Unless you’ve got a trust fund, you’re going to need to make money. If you’ve got a trust fund, you have no need to be a digital nomad in the first place. A digital nomad is defined by their necessity to work. The big difference between a digital nomad and a traditional worker being that the former does not need to carry out their role in any one fixed place.

In most instances, digital nomads are freelancers working remotely. There are many roles that could be covered under this umbrella, but the common denominator is that you’re going to need a reliable freelance platform to source work.

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I personally use Upwork, which has provided me a really solid stream of work since they took over Elance last year. This is probably the biggest platform out there, and their customer service is excellent, but the recent hike in commission to 20% on the first $500 earned is a little hard to swallow.

Freelancer.com is also a decent platform but the quality of work available doesn’t seem to match up to Upwork’s all that well. People per Hour also has its charms, but not in the way they seem to constantly go out of their way to get you to pay to have your proposals featured.

A Simple But High Quality Wardrobe

The digital nomad life is a lot more than just about the work. It’s a lifestyle choice and the nomadic part demands that you’l often be on the road. When you decide to go all in on this, you must realise that your wardrobe needs to be reduced accordingly. There’s nothing worse than arriving in a new place and having to lug an overly heavy case around with you.

Before you get to the wardrobe, you need to purchase a high quality backpack. And this needn’t be one that would get you to the top of Everest. A 60+20 liter capacity will be more than sufficient. This will give you plenty of space to carry your clothes and essentials, while the detachable rucksack will be ideal for carrying your laptop or Macbook as hand luggage, or when you’re buzzing around your current city of choice.

Clothes, shoes, and all the other basics need to be kept as exactly that, but you should think about quality over cost in some instances. I used to get through three or four pairs of “cheap” jeans every year until I realised that it might make more sense paying a little bit more for something that would last longer. This has worked out for me so far and i’m sure that it could apply to other often-worn essential clothing items too.

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Decent Sunglasses That Actually Protect Your Eyes

The freedom to work where you want is often the main motivation for the digital nomad. In most cases this will mean that you also want to work somewhere where the sun shines a bit more often than it does in your home town.

I spent years buying cheap sunglasses that on many occasions lasted me a long time, but i’m pretty sure the protection they offered my eyes wasn’t all that great. As with the above advice on backpacks and certain clothing items, there is a lot to be said for spending a little bit more than you normally would to ensure that you are getting superior quality. Just make sure you get a hard case for them too as they will getting knocked about quite a bit every time you set off for somewhere new.

The Best Currency Card Available

It is absolutely essential that you do your upmost to make sure that you lose as little as possible on currency conversions. Clearly this doesn’t apply if you are travelling around your own country as a digital nomad but it is a big deal if, like me, you’re often making money in dollars, converting them into pounds, and then spending in euros.

Luckily there are a number of excellent options out there at the moment. The best for my mind is Revolut in the UK but this is an ever increasingly competitive market with more and more options appearing on the market all the time.

An extra smart little hack is to also download the XE Currency Convertor app to your phone. This way you can always double check that your card is giving you the rate that it should be.

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An Awesome Co-Working Space

Cafes are a great place for free wi-fi and to do some local people watching, but they are hardly conducive to a full day’s concentrated work session. Your home might seem like the ideal location to work, until you realise just how easy it is to get distracted there. These places can be a great resource from time to time, but you need to find a good co-working space if you’re settling in a place for a while and need to get some serious work done.

Luckily for the digital nomad are more and more amazing co-working spaces opening all over the world every day. With business going increasingly on-line and companies realising that there is no need to invest in a office all of your own when you’re finding your feet, co-working spaces are the perfect solution for young professionals and the digital nomad everywhere.

The great advantage for a digital nomad here is that most co-working spaces offer flexi-desks that can be taken on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis with no long-term commitment. A good co-working space will provide for all of your working needs with high-speed internet, printing access, comfortable common areas, kitchens, free coffee, and 24/7 access all being pretty standard in the better places.

Not only does a co-working space provide you with the tools and impetus you need to push on with your work, but you will find yourself surrounded by other like-minded individuals. Not only will these people often prove to be an inspiration, but it is also quite common for you to be able to pool your resources and generate work from each other.

Good Friends

Once you become a digital nomad, you will essentially live your life on the road. What this often means is that you will give up any house or apartment that you had when you were living more traditionally. For this reason it is essential for you to maintain good relationships with all of your old friends as they will prove invaluable when you are looking for a place to stay when you head back to your old haunts.

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Unfortunately it may also be true that you find yourself coming up against a little bit of resentment from your old friends once you go down the digital nomad path. This is only natural as some people can’t help but feel a bit jealous when they see you living it up on the beach in the winter while they are stuck in the cold commute to the office.

A Digital Nomad Support Network

There is no point in sugar coating it, the life of a digital nomad is not always a bed of roses. Freelancing can be irregular to say the least, and no matter how much you love life on the road, there will still be many times when you miss your old friends and family members.

For this reason you must take advantage of the contacts that you will undoubtedly make with any other digital nomad that crosses your path. These interactions will remind you that you are not alone and give you that little push to keep at it. We may still be in the minority but the digital nomad life is one that more and more people are taking up everyday. The digital nomad community is growing and it will always be there to offer you support when you need it.

Self-belief, determination, motivation, and discipline are going to be just some of the key traits that you need to have in bucket loads if you are going to make it as a digital nomad, but you will get there. You are special, my digital nomad friend, and as long as you don’t lose faith, you will soon be making a success of things and living the kind of life that you had only ever dreamed about having before.

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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