Editor’s Note: This is part two in the series “Everything I Learned in One Month as a Digital Nomad”. To learn more about Elizabeth, read Part One here.

Lesson 2: Invest In Your Success

When traveling to new places and exploring all of the new shiny possibilities for the first time, it can be easy to neglect your established routine and fall into the trap of living day-to-day in paradise. Hint: Avoid this rookie mistake at all costs! During this month abroad, there were so many obstacles to my productivity that could have been avoided had I reasonably invested more in my own success. As I travel to new destinations and learn from my experiences, I’ve realize these three ways are key:

  • Find a suitable living space
  • Pay for a productive and valuable coworking space
  • Maintain and grown healthy habits

It’s Important to Sleep at Night

When I’d hear the quote “Successful people are comfortable being uncomfortable” in so many entrepreneurship YouTube videos, I realized I took this advice far too literally. The truth is, for myself at least, that I need to put myself in the best environment in order to succeed when I start anything new.

What I mean to say is that I need to live alone in a comfortable space in order to be productive and successful. The biggest mistake I made upon arriving in Playa del Carmen was deciding to book a hostel for an entire month.

The word “suitable” will mean different things to different people, so I will just define suitable as meeting the essential requirements that help us to function at a basic level. I am quite resilient and I thought I could put up with anything that came my way. This was very untrue. I loved my hostel roommates, but a few cold showers, sleepless nights and stiff backs from a bad mattress later, I learned my lesson. I now understand the need to invest in myself by living alone in a space that meets my needs.

In my case, I severely underestimated how different each country is, and I now know that the standards of my home are not applicable to the rest of the world. I went ahead and created my own list of essentials that would create the best living space for success (for me). I strongly encourage you to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate what is important to you and how you can meet your objectives more effectively.

Since I like to live month-to-month instead of committing to long-term contracts, I am opting to find better deals for AirBNBs and other similar accommodations by staying for an entire month. I plan to be wiser before I find a new place to live by taking a tour and negotiating better terms in person. Based on my recent experiences, I’ve created my own list of habitat must-haves.

My AirBNB Tour Checklist

  • Check for a locked gate or secured perimeter.
  • Check the locks on exterior doors
  • Check for hot water in the shower
  • Check the water pressure in the shower
  • Test the air conditioning unit
  • Is the WiFi unlimited?
  • Test the WiFi speed by starting a video call on my phone (or an app like SpeedTest)
  • Check that the WiFi router is in the unit
  • Is there a table with a comfortable chair?
  • Is there at least one accessible and soundproof window?
  • Do the window(s) open, close, lock and unlock easily
  • Is a cleaning service included? If not, how much more will this cost?
  • How close is the nearest laundry service
  • Is the tap water OK? If not, is there drinking water provided?

You Can’t Depend on Working From Your Living Space

The first lesson I learned related to working was that the internet in your living space might not be suitable for getting work done. When looking for a coworking space to use, you can use sites like Coworker.com or find out which spots locals suggest, and investigate them for yourself. Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, is well-known for saying “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Your coworking space should provide more than just a place to hustle – it should also offer you a community of like-minded folks to network and grow with.

Photos of the coworking space at Selina Playa del Carmen.

During this first month abroad, I chose the coworking space at Selina simply because it was near the hostel that I slept at and the introductory cost for a 1 month membership was $75 USD. I chose this location over Nest Coworking due simply to price. Needless to say, I learned my lesson that just a place to work isn’t going to cut it for me, and much like Mike’s review of this location, it didn’t meet all of my needs for work productivity.

What I propose instead, and what I will do at my next destination, is to research about the best coworking spaces, choose 2-3 to visit and to then choose the location that fits best. There are many factors in choosing the right coworking space, but price should not be the most major deciding factor. I think of how much more I will gain in a better environment and that I can’t put a value on headache avoidance and saving my own time.

There are so many resources with discussions and reviews for coworking spaces out there. Facebook groups are really helpful, in addition to YouTube videos. I highly recommend Chris the Freelancer on YouTube, because he has reviewed most if not all of the most popular coworking spaces in digital nomad hotspots on his channel.

Maintain and Improve Healthy Habits

I cannot stress enough how important it is to establish healthy habits in order to be productive and successful as a digital nomad. This could be easy to brushoff as obvious advice, but it is so easy to overlook mental, physical and spiritual health while traveling and working remotely. Whether you are fan of weight-lifting, ice skating, yoga or meditation, it is critical to incorporate healthy habits into your routine while on the road. In a digital nomad hotspot like Playa del Carmen, for instance, there are so many options for healthy eating and exercise that there is literally no excuse why one should be not be fueling their mind, body and soul properly.

While I was here, I continued to meditate everyday and write 3 things that I am grateful for each morning. I also purchased a gym membership to keep up my weight-lifting routine. It is important to have healthy outlets that feed the soul, and going out to party every night isn’t one for me. I found that I was a bit stressed in Playa del Carmen, due to the constant party lifestyle, but I enjoyed it all the same. I was definitely less productive this month, but I enjoyed Mexico to the fullest, and this experience taught me how I can improve my discipline and what I will differently the next time to maintain my routine.

The post Invest in Your Success: One Month as a Digital Nomad – Part Two was first published on Coworkaholic.



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