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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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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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