When COVID hit two years ago, we were all thrown headlong into a new way of working. A lot of us unwillingly began a messy #WFH journey, but some of us went a different way. Laptops and the internet mean quite a bit of work can be done not just from home, but from ANYwhere - the mountains, the beach, the plane, the coffee shop - or the coffee shop’s arch nemesis, a coworking office. If you’ve become a digital nomad, you know how important organization is. You either became organized real quick, or you are still struggling.
Following are some basics to get you started, in case you fall into the latter category.
START WITH A STURDY BACKPACK OR MESSENGER BAG
If you travel with your laptop, look for one with a specifically padded compartment designed just for this purpose. If you use something larger than 15”, you might want to take your computer shopping with you, or at the very least, keep your receipt in case things don’t work out. Make sure your bag also has compartments for things like tissues, pens, business cards, and room for a quick change of clothes, for lost-luggage emergencies or trips to the gym. Many have a cleverly-hidden clip to hold your keys. Some have a mesh outer pocket to hold a water bottle or thermal mug. As a digital nomad, your backpack will become your best friend, so shop around, make a list of deal-breakers and must-haves, and buy the best your budget will allow. Some good brands to check out are Tumi, Patagonia, Thule, and The North Face.
Once you get your bag, remember to attach a luggage tag or other label so a misplaced bag can be returned to you.
CHOOSE A CALENDAR
Are you Camp Digital, or Camp Paper? Either way, the main thing is to use it. No matter which you choose, commit to entering all your meetings, travel plans, appointments, and other important dates immediately to minimize the chance of forgetting a date. Google and Apple offer free calendars with their other services. There are also apps you can buy. If you like paper, At-A-Glance, Filofax, and Moleskine offer classic, updated planners.
PLAN THE NEXT DAY THE NIGHT BEFORE
Days go smoother if you plan ahead. If you don’t have a work “uniform”, lay out your clothes the night before - or consider creating a capsule work wardrobe to keep morning frustrations at bay. You’ll notice tech titans have adopted a wardrobe that never varies, a’la Steve Jobs and the black turtleneck.
Give your calendar the once-over before bed, and keep a pen and paper handy to jot down ideas that pop up in the middle of the night. Make sure your bag is ready to go so you aren’t rushing around in the morning trying to get everything together. Put your keys, wallet/purse, travel mug, and phone by the door. Having everything ready the night before unconsciously gives your mind permission to rest and stop worrying about what lies ahead at the end of a night’s sleep.
These are just a few basics to get you started on the work-from-anywhere life. You’ll refine this list, and add to it as your career evolves. Just as there’s not one right way to pack your bag, or populate your calendar, there is also not one right way to be a digital nomad. What works for you might not work for someone else. Be open-minded, and don’t be afraid to change plans if you find something is not working. And don’t worry if it feels a little messy at times. The truth is, no one has it all figured out. Honestly? Most of us are just making it up as we go along.
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