We’ve all seen it – a photo of a an exotic beach, softened through an Instagram filter with an inspirational quote in italics over it. In the photo, a girl with her laptop, working away from a hammock as the sun begins to set.
Isn’t that what being a digital nomad is all about? Yes and no. That’s the glamorous part that we happily flaunt in people’s faces on social media, but the behind the scenes isn’t always quite as poetic. So here it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a digital nomad!
Your life revolves around the continuous and never-ending search for wifi
And not just so you can upload a photo of your breakfast on Instagram – since you’re not working from an office and your clients are most likely based abroad, the only way you can get in touch with them is over the Internet! This means panic attacks whenever the connection decides to die in the middle of an important Skype call, and that your choice of accommodation, cafes and restaurants is no longer based on your personal preference but on the holy grail of every freelancer – the wifi connection.
What is a desk anyway?
Now that your laptop has pretty much become your office, the concept of a “desk” has taken on a whole new meaning. These days, my desk is more often than not my sofa, where I
lounge comfortably work, armed with a cup of tea and fuzzy socks. Glamorous, I know. This also means that you will often spend work days on your own (which I personally don’t mind), unless you’re renting a co-working space or work from a cafe. Fear not, the cross-processed Pinterest photos depicting digital nomads ditching their desks for a hammock on a sandy beach or a pool side are not a lie. It’s just that, realistically, this is not where you would get much work done! Which brings us to the next point…
Your travel lifestyle stands in the way of your productivity
Should I spend the day exploring a medieval Tuscan village and drinking inappropriate amounts of locally made wine while basking in the Italian sunshine, or replying to clients’ emails? These are the existential questions that you’ll be faced with as a digital nomad. The truth is, your lifestyle won’t be sustainable if you don’t have the money to back it up, so you will have to find a way to balance work and leisure. Unless , of course, you love your job to the point it no longer feels like work in which case, you go rock those emails!
The Friday-related excitement confuses you
As the week slowly comes to an end, your Facebook wall and Twitter feed become cluttered with joyous expression of the approaching weekend which you can no longer quite relate to. Forget the beaches and travel-filled days, the biggest perk of being a digital nomad is that the living-for-Friday-and-dreading-Monday malarkey no longer applies to you! Why? Because you’re the one in charge of your work hours and creating a schedule that suits you and your business model. For example, I often take weekdays off to travel and explore, and I make up for it on the weekend. That being said, more often than not…
Work never ends
Running your own business means that you sometimes forget when to draw the line and stop working. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one guilty of checking work emails while on a date, and desperately searching for wifi on your day out with friends to see if your invoices came through. And lets not forget – when you work at an office, your job is usually limited to one specific role. As a freelancer, you suddenly become your own PR, marketing and social media manager; you’re responsible for project management, execution and delivery, you’re in charge of managing and finding new clients AND, the horror, bookkeeping (if you suck at maths like me, this very word will make you want to curl up into a fetal position and slowly die). The good thing is, your boss will never say no when you ask for a holiday!
The verdict? I can’t imagine living my life any other way. I love the chaos that comes with travelling and turning my life upside down jusssst a little bit whenever I decide to pack my bags and move to a new place. I live for the unknown, waiting for me at the other side of the airport, and I don’t mind the days I often spend working alone. Why? Because while all these photos with fancy font may not be telling the whole truth, they aren’t exactly lying either!
Over to you! Are you a digital nomad? Can you relate to the above? Or perhaps you’re thinking of becoming nomadic – share your thoughts in the comments below!