Profitable Nomad Couple

63. Creating Work-Life Balance as a Digital Nomad

October 18, 2023 Austin and Monica Mangelson
Profitable Nomad Couple
63. Creating Work-Life Balance as a Digital Nomad
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to break free from the guilt of balancing work and play as a digital nomad? We’ve been there, straddling the line between soaking in the wonders of our new location and meeting our work commitments. 

As we found our rhythm, we realized that focusing on output was more important than clocking in hours. In this episode, we share our journey towards embracing a fluid work schedule that aligns with our lifestyle, energy levels, and the principle of prioritizing results over time.

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Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the profitable Nomad Couple podcast. This is a show where we share all of our secrets about building a sustainable location independent lifestyle.

Speaker 2:

We are Austin and Monica. We're a digital Nomad couple here to help you develop an entrepreneurial mindset, ignite your passions and develop a purpose-driven online business.

Speaker 1:

Get ready for weekly insights and inspiring stories to empower you to live life on your own terms.

Speaker 2:

So are you ready to unlock the Nomad mindset and embrace a life of limitless possibilities? Let's dive in. What's up everybody. Today we are going to be talking about productivity and structure in your work as you travel and live as a digital Nomad, and we're talking about this because this is a really big concern for people who are digital Nomads. They don't know how to balance the work and play. This is something that we've experienced ourselves. To give you a little bit of insight into what we've experienced with it, when we first started traveling while we were working full-time we were in Guatemala for four months we almost always felt guilty because, if we were working, we felt guilty because we were in this amazing place. We were near Lake Atulans so incredibly beautiful, so many fun things to do and we kept thinking to ourselves why did we travel all the way here? Why are we living here just to continue working? So we didn't really like just sitting around working. But then also, we felt guilty when we went out to go play, whether it was going on a hike or going to visit neighboring towns or some excursion, or we were out on the lake or whatever it is that we were doing. We felt guilty because we're like, oh, we should be working right now because somehow we got to pay for these trips that were going on. We have some projects that we're working on that we should get done, and so, no matter what we did, for a good chunk of time we felt like we were doing the wrong thing and we didn't know how to get both done in a good manner. With a couple of years of experience, we figured out a good flow and we have some good tips that we want to share with you guys, and hopefully, after listening to this episode, you have a better idea of how to balance work and play and have a good structure in place so that you can enjoy both.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's been really important to us to build in that. You know that work and play into our lives and into our business. Therefore, we have always built a business where we can be flexible with our time. So just a quick caveat here all of our tips are going to be around that your employment status is definitely going to affect your flexibility and your ability to go play more or less. For example, if you are a remote employee and you're expected to be logged in certain hours or different things like that, you might not be able to follow all of these tips that we are giving Along. That same vein, though how much you work if you are setting up your own business or freelancing is a personal choice. You need to be considering your own workload, how much income you want to be making the cost of your personal lifestyle and your goals. So both your short term goals and your long term goals. This is something I mean. We cannot stress this enough. Business is one big giant experiment, so just experiment with it and then you can adjust as necessary.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I love this quote by Kristin Wilson. She says output is more important than hours worked. That's going to be kind of the underlying principle behind everything that we share today. We grow up with this mentality that time equals money. So, especially if you are in high school or in college and you have like an hourly wage, like you get paid by the hour, you get this mentality of, okay, the more time I put into something, the more money I'm going to make and we keep living off of that framework. But that's not necessarily true. Especially when you're growing your own business, that's definitely not true. Time put in does not always equal money that you receive. So it's all about the results that you produce and what you can create, and not about the time that's put into it.

Speaker 1:

Which is really cool, because a lot of us have been groomed in a way to believe that a normal working day is an eight hour day. But I can guarantee most of us listening to this podcast have had the experience where we clock in and then we sit there watching the clock so that we can punch out. In fact I used to work at a medical office in the back billing department. Literally every day people would line up in the hallway up to 10 minutes before they were supposed to check out and just wait and just kill time so that they could punch the clock right at five o'clock and be out of there. And that's kind of how we were all groomed and what we were taught to expect. You'd be working eight hours a day or more and that would be normal. But really the cool thing about owning our own business is sometimes we can be way more productive in half that time and get a lot more done. Or, you know, some days when we're feeling really productive and we're, you know, all the creative juices are flowing we can work way longer hours and we can get more things done in the day. But like Austin said, the goal is just to focus on your output and just to know how much needs to get done in order to achieve both your short term and your long term goals for your business. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

So, ideally, your work time is going to be a lot more fluid. It should be centered around what needs to get done, what projects you're working on, how long that's going to take you and then also the optimized time for you. So we're going to talk about working around when you're in a good energy. This is something that Monica and I have been talking about. We're going to get to that in just a sec. We're going to circle back around to that idea because we have several tips that we're going to share with you on how you can get to this ideal situation of fluid work schedule that fits your needs, your projects and works with your lifestyle. So a first tip is to do your most demanding or your most important work during your peak attention hours. So for me, it's first thing in the morning, the first two to three hours of my work day. After I do my morning routine and I get set up and ready for the day. That's going to be my best work, and so if I have anything that I'm, that's really important. That's when I'm going to do it. The afternoons I start losing my focus. I start getting a little bit more antsy. Evenings are kind of hit and miss. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're not, but I know mornings are going to be productive time, so that's when I schedule to work on really important things.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and this requires a pretty high level of self-awareness. So if you're not sure when your peak attention hours are, start to pay attention during the day. What time do you find yourself kind of zoning out and what time do you find yourself getting a ton of good work in? Just start to notice all those patterns. What are the patterns that you are noticing? Our next tip is to slow down when you are traveling. So we, Austin and I, tend to go. Our kind of sweet spot for traveling to new places is staying in one place from anywhere from one month to about three or four months. And when we say once, one place, we're like we are booking out, we're renting an apartment for that whole time. We're not going to one country and then moving around. We are staying in one city and we might take like weekend trips out of the city, but for the most part we're always coming back to our home base during that chunk of time. And the reason for that is this slower version of travel gives you time to work and explore without feeling guilty. So there's less pressure to spend every day that you're there out exploring the place because you know you have a limited time, and then it allows you to work without feeling guilty.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think if you're, if you're booking out a place and you're staying there for one week, two weeks, it feels a little bit more like a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity, you know. So you're there, you're like what am I going to be here again? I've already spent, however many hundreds of dollars in plane tickets to get here, so you want to make it worth your while and so you try and pack in as many fun activities as you can, which makes it hard to get your work done and grow your business. When we're there for three months, we know we have time to get done the things that we want to do in the country, the activities we want to do, the things we want to see, and so when we can space those things out and schedule them and then not feel bad about sitting down and working for a full day or for a couple full days in a row, Okay.

Speaker 1:

This third one seems really counterintuitive by hearing me out. Okay, set a daily routine. We thrive on consistency and routine. So, even though, like a big reason people start their digital nomad journey is to really shake up their lives and to kind of break free from the mundane routines that you currently have, there are a lot of benefits to knowing what to expect each morning, and that way you can avoid wasting time and energy trying to figure out what you're going to do. You can also wake up that day knowing, okay, you know what. Today's a work day and you can prep your mind and body for it, so that you are a lot more productive during your work days and therefore get to work less.

Speaker 2:

We say this all the time. This is very dependent on you. You got to find what works best for you and again, it's going to take some experimentation. For me, a good morning routine is if I get outside and I take a walk or do some exercise for 30, 45 minutes, if I'm able to read a little bit of my book and make it a good breakfast. So, whatever, whatever works for you to set yourself up for success for that day and then stick to that. And every time you travel to a new place you might have to tweak it and adjust it, depending on your environment, but it definitely helps to save energy and time.

Speaker 1:

It helps me a lot to either daily or weekly plans. So often I typically weekly plans. Every Sunday we'll sit down, we'll go over the calendar together, we'll schedule out the most important tasks that need to be done that week, and then I know ahead of time what to be expecting on which days, which days I'm going to need to be inside more and to be working more, which days I can maybe go in and play and enjoy the outdoors a little bit more.

Speaker 2:

Our next suggestion for you is to set a designated start time and an ends time. For me, starting a start or setting a start time is pretty easy. You decide, you know, at two o'clock or eight o'clock I'm going to sit down and I'm going to work on this. It's a little bit harder for me to have an ends time because, especially if you are like we were talking about, this is results oriented work, right. So if the results aren't there yet, or if you are working on a project that needs to be completed, it's so easy to let that project bleed into the rest of your day. But I think it can be really helpful if you have a designated end time and not let work take over your life, especially because at some point we talked about this also in a previous podcast everybody has a productivity threshold. Maybe let's say your productivity threshold is two hours, so you're sitting down working for two hours. Anything past that you're not going to get your time's worth of output of that work, if that makes sense. You're going to be less focused, your brain's going to be more fatigued, you're going to be more drained. At that point you need to shut down the computer, walk away, go do something else and come back and finish that project at a different time. And so, once you figure out what your productivity threshold is, set a time in your calendar to work on something for that length of time and then come back to it when needed. But you'll probably need to take a break and walk away from it for a bit.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, again, I think this just takes a really high level of self-awareness. So just start to pay attention to about how long that you can typically work. If you start spacing out, slowing down, it's definitely time to take a break, go out, enjoy some fresh air, enjoy your surroundings a little bit before coming back. Okay, so up until now we have hit pretty heavy on the work side of things, so let's talk about the play side of things here for a second. And our biggest tip here is to schedule time off. So don't just take time off when there's no more work to be done, because you know that's never going to happen. You need to actively be scheduling into your day, into your week time to enjoy the place that you're in. This isn't something that you should just fill in the cracks of your schedule. This is really something you need to be intentional about adding into your life.

Speaker 2:

I think of that analogy where you have the jar and you put in the rocks first, and then you put in the pebbles and then you pour in the sand and all fits in and I think of that sand flowing in and filling the cracks. And I think a lot of times that's what we do with our free time. You know, our recreation is we schedule work time and then whatever's left over that's when we can go enjoy the day. And I think we need to flip that a little bit. And I think those big rocks that we put in the jar first, those priority items, should be some recreational activities. When Monica and I first get to a new place, we normally have a list of like five to eight high ticket items that we want to do in this country, things that we've researched, things that other people have told us we're like. We definitely want to get things, things done. So one of the first things that we do is we will block off days on our counter for the next three months of when we're going to go do those things and then in between those recreational days, that's when we plan our work days. It makes me think of something I've learned from Michael Hyatt. He talks about front stage time, back stage time and off stage time. So front stage time would be things where you're directly interacting with clients or customers. Back stage time would be working on things in your business that aren't client facing, but they're important and need to get done maybe some marketing, maybe some copywriting, and then off stage time. That's what we're talking about here. That's the fun, that's the. I'm not thinking about work today time. You shouldn't be messaging, emailing anything related to the work. You need off stage time where you can completely separate yourself from the work that you're doing and just be there, be present. That's our final tip is to be present where you are.

Speaker 1:

It's so important. I cannot stress the importance enough of taking time to yourself, walking away from your business, enjoying life, doing things that you like to do just because you like them trying new things, meeting new people. That is the reason that we become digital nomads, right, and it's so easy to let our businesses kind of take over our lives. So it does need to be done very intentionally, and I do think scheduling time off as well as being present not president, although I guess you could do that too you could do whatever you want will really help you enjoy your life more.

Speaker 2:

Monika and I have noticed, if we don't intentionally take time to not be working as you're growing your business, the default would be it would grow into every aspect of your life. It would just expands to fill the space that you provide it. And so unless you intentionally set time for your work not to grow into which would be your recreation time it's going to happen. And so, yeah, it takes a lot of intention and it takes a lot of mindset work to be. If you're out hanging out with friends or you're out with your partner and just like an evening beach stroll or something, it can take a lot of training to get your mind present in that moment and you're going to have thoughts pop up about work. Sometimes you're just going to have to tell yourself to set that aside because now it's not the time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, the thing about expanding into all of your life is it's not always a productive expansion. A lot of times you'll find lots of tasks that aren't moving the needle in your business suit, that just take up time because you are supposed to be working right now. Right, and it's not a super productive task, but it's just work has taken over. The other thing, just really quick I wanted to mention, when it comes to scheduling time off, is this doesn't always have to be full days, although I do recommend taking full days off. I think that is really important. It can also be a half day. It could be you know what on Wednesday I'm going to take half the day off and I'm going to go surfing or I'm going to go hiking, or I'm going to go sit at a restaurant or a coffee shop and just enjoy my surroundings.

Speaker 2:

We're scheduling a game night with friends on like a Thursday or Friday night, but like it's on the calendar and you're going to respect that time, yeah, you no longer are tethered to the Monday through Friday, nine to five.

Speaker 1:

So untether yourself and allow yourself to explore, to try new things and just to figure out what works for you.

Speaker 2:

Thanks so much for joining us here on the profitable Nomad Couple podcast. We appreciate you listening to us today.

Speaker 1:

If you enjoyed this episode, share it on Instagram and be sure to tag us. At Austin and Monica, together, we can inspire others to embrace a location independent lifestyle.

Speaker 2:

And while you're there, we'd love to connect with you, so make sure you follow us for more tips and inspiration on living your dream location independent lifestyle.

Speaker 1:

Until next week. Remember that you have the power to shape your own path. So stay curious, stay adventures and stay connected.

Balancing Work and Play as Digital Nomad
The Importance of Scheduling Time Off
Embracing a Location Independent Lifestyle