Digital nomad: effects on productivity

Patricia and I became digital nomads a couple of years ago. We’ve been to dozens of cities and countries along the way. But it’s not only leisure. As a matter of fact, we’re working most of the time, regardless of our current location.

Working as we travel is quite challenging. But only recently I realized that it’s essentially as challenging as before. Not worse. Nor better. Basically the same problem. Kind of counterintuitive, right?

When I had a home and a fancy home office, I struggled to get work done. I worked a lot and I was always busy. But producing meaningful results and getting close to achieving my goals was an entirely different story. It’s easier to be busy than to make progress.

I’ve always had many to do lists, each one with zillions of entries. So many things in fact, that it’s hard to choose from. What’s the most meaningful tasks to accomplish today? This week? This month?

I’d eventually choose one, but my days would go filled with all sorts of distractions. By the way, distractions are so plentiful and so addictive these days, that it’s hard to believe we can ever ship anything at all. I’ve got to admit that email, Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, the news website, just to mention a few, are a drag. I try to fight them as much as possible, but they keep coming back and sucking the life out of me. And it could be worse. I don’t watch TV at all. What if I did?

When I was at my home office, other mundane distractions took a lot of my time too. Some things really needed to be done and would take time that I’d rather put in my work. But many others could be completely avoided.

While traveling I noticed that the pattern has changed but the results were the same. Instead of dealing with trivial distractions, I have to act on some serious topics every day. Like, where are we going to spend the night? How do we move from the airport to our temporary apartment when we get to this new city tomorrow? By the way, where is the best place to stay in this city? Which country are we going to visit next month? 

When it comes to traveling, Patricia and I have very clear responsibilities. She takes the pictures, I organize the trip. So I really have to research and decide on a wide variety of topics almost every day. It’s a lot of work and it takes time.

So, as before, I can’t be as productive on my work as I wish. It used to be caused by trivial distractions. Now it’s caused by some seriously basic needs. But as far work productivity is concerned, the end result is still the same: I get much less done than I’d like to admit.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and I have a theory. I believe there’s a way to solve this problem and have more work done using a somewhat counterintuitive idea. What if I’d choose to dedicate my workday to execute one and only one task and actually finish it in one day, no matter what happens during the day?