The nine to five office grind is a thing of the past, and the age of the digital nomad is upon us. After all, why get up at 6AM every morning, spend an hour or more on a crowded train or stuck in traffic, spend the day glued to a screen and then go through the same commute afterwards if you don’t have to? Instead, you could be starting the morning at 10AM with a spot of yoga and then settling down with exactly the same screen to do the same work by the pool or under the shade of a palm tree.
Put that way, it is easy to understand why so many people are abandoning conventional work patterns and instead embracing the digital nomad lifestyle. Yet we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. In fact, there are some who cut their ties and embark on the road to paradise, only to find they are faced with the worst of both worlds.
Trouble in paradise?
Trying to achieve an effective work/life balance is a challenge for any remote worker, and when you are living as a digital nomad, it certainly doesn’t get any easier. One of the most common stresses that digital nomads experience is fear of missing out. In short, it goes like this: they have chosen a beautiful, exotic location in which to work. When they are working, they feel that they should be making the most of their surroundings, not staring at a screen. When they take time out, they feel they should be working. As a result, there is a constant feeling of low-level anxiety and guilt.
Exploring a new location is lots of fun. But it can also take time and effort. Suddenly the most mundane things, that would take five minutes at home, from getting online to sorting out the laundry can take hours.
But perhaps the biggest problem is that feeling of not really belonging. We all have an instinctive urge to have somewhere to call home, and the nomadic lifestyle can create a feeling of being disconnected, particularly if there are thoughts of starting a family.
What is the answer?
The digital nomad lifestyle certainly has plenty going for it, but perhaps the worst thing anyone can do is dive in with a blinkered vision that sees only the positives. Understanding the negatives, and pragmatically weighing them, is key to deriving the maximum enjoyment. For example, being apart from loved ones is always going to be hard, but chatting on skype is free – is that going to be enough? Think things like this through ahead of time, and homesickness and despondency are far less likely to creep in.
It is also vital to remember the importance of routine. Keeping regular hours for work and leisure means neither get neglected. Routine also means eating and sleeping regularly, and keeping serotonin levels up to ensure you are functioning at your best.
Finally, it is worth remembering that the nomadic lifestyle does not have to be forever. Many people ultimately decide there is no place like home – and they find that it is right where they left it.