Today, let’s talk about coworking and why I love, love love virtual coworking (and what the hell it even is).
First off though, I want to say that I’m a huge fan of coworking. But I hardly ever use coworking spaces. Sounds a bit weird, right?
The truth is, I totally get why coworking spaces work for some people. And in the past, they’ve worked very well for me too.
But now my work is very heavy on live calls, and it’s hard to find a coworking space with private Skype rooms. Plus, I am really extroverted and often I end up chatting more than actually working. #counterproductive
But I also struggle with the same challenges that most Digital Nomads encounter: loneliness and lack of motivation or feeling really unproductive.
I simply miss having colleagues, people to bounce ideas around, vent when I’m having a crappy day at work or share my wins when I’m having a good one.
Thankfully, I found an awesome way to get all the benefits of coworking, without having to change out of my pyjamas or pay hundreds of dollars for a desk every month.
Enter: Virtual Coworking.
Virtual or online coworking is a new trend amongst remote workers and freelancers and I think it’s here to stay. In the DNG Inner Circle we virtually cowork together all the time and I get so many questions about it that I thought I’d share why it’s awesome.
Here are 5 reasons why we love virtual coworking – and you will, too!
First, what the heck is virtual coworking anyway?
Virtual coworking means meeting online with one or more other real people (no robots involved… yet) to get some work done, hold each other accountable, and ideally make some new friends and build a professional network.
In the Inner Circle, we meet via Zoom for 2 hours at a time, set our goals and then work in Pomodoros. It’s fun, it’s productive and it’s totally location independent.
And here’s why this is so awesome:
1. Accountability from anywhere
If you’re anything like me, you might have days where you feel super motivated and get lots done before it’s even lunch time.
But on other days, I end up binge watching the Gilmore Girls until 2 pm or meet friends for a 3-hour brunch. On a Tuesday.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this flexibility and it’s great to be able to do this once in a while. But when it gets a habit, it’s not productive anymore and I start to feel guilty.
The lack of structure and accountability we have a digital nomads is super exciting in the beginning, but after the novelty has worn off, it can actually be a huge burden.
Virtual coworking is a great way to add accountability to your life, no matter where you are, how long you’re staying or whether there’s a big nomad scene.
Knowing that there are other girls working at the same time, getting their work done, is extremely motivating. And by incorporating virtual coworking sessions into your days, you start creating a bit of a routine, which can help so much with feeling overwhelmed or unproductive.
2. Make new friends
This is definitely my favourite part of virtual coworking, it’s a fantastic way to make new friends.
When I say loneliness is one of the biggest challenges not only digital nomads face, but most people who are self-employed or business owners, I’m not exaggerating.
Working by yourself every day sucks a bit, but it’s not always avoidable.
Over the past year or so I have made so many new friends during our coworking sessions, I can’t even count them.
Girls from all around the world join in and they all understand each other’s struggles, help each other out, ask for feedback, hire each other and yes, make friends.
When I used to work in a lab and hit a road block, the first thing I’d do was to share it with my lab mates. Sometimes they had faced the same problem already and could point me in the right direction, other times we tried to figure out a solution together.
It was fun to be able to bounce ideas around, get and give feedback and generally work together, even if we all had totally different projects we were working on. We still had each others’ backs.
When I started working online, I very quickly realised that I was pretty much alone with my questions. That’s why I started DNG in the first place. And virtual coworking spaces take this concept much further than a normal online community could.
During our coworking sessions, we see each other face to face but we can also share screens and links. We’ve audited each other’s websites, helped design workbooks, tweaked web copy and tonnes more.
It’s so great to have a space and bunch of women to ask these things in real time.
4. No more bye-bye’s
If you’ve been around the digital nomad block for a little while already, then you’ve probably tried out a few coworking spaces.
But they are really quite peculiar if you think about it. We want nothing more than escape the cubicle and once we have, we then pay good money to go work at an office.
Of course, I totally get the pros of coworking, I’ve had many a coworking session which was fun and productive.
But the big problem is, as soon as you say goodbye to your current location and move on to new shores, you’re gonna have to start totally from scratch.
It can be quite disheartening and even take a while to feel settled again. You have to reintroduce not only yourself every time you move, but also your business.
I found it easy to lose momentum.
What I love about virtual coworking is that you never have to say your bye-byes anymore. Because you can work together from anywhere in the world, you can stay up to date on each others projects and challenges and help each other out.
5. Get sh*t done
And last but not least, you get lots done. Even though our sessions are just a few hours long, we get tonnes done because we set goals together, check in regularly and also get much better at judging how long certain tasks actually take.
The girls use the virtual coworking sessions for all sorts of tasks, from boring admin tasks that need to get ticked off, to creative work. Others have written whole online courses over multiple sessions, or used the time to pitch new clients.
It’s totally up to you what you work on and the focused time can be beneficial to all sorts of tasks.
For example, I love writing my newsletters during virtual coworking, but I also often do customer support, emails or batch social media content.
After a few sessions, you’ll get the hang of what tasks you like to tackle.
So, is it time to try out some virtual coworking yourself?
There you have it, virtual coworking is awesome and definitely a trend that’s here to stay.
So where can you try out virtual coworking? You can either make a virtual coworking date with a friend, of even better, join our virtual coworking community, the DNG Inner Circle!
We have coworking sessions almost every day now, hosted either by myself or a member. Plus we do other fun ways to foster real community for us nomad girls, like live Q&As, Virtual Mixer Parties, our Book Club Meetups, Monthly Goal Setting and lots more fun stuff.
Settling in is hard. I know this sounds crazy for someone who’s been travelling for over 5 years, but whenever I arrive in a new place, the first few days I’m a bit uneasy, questioning why I even left the last place because I liked it so much and thinking I’ll never like this new place as much.It usually doesn’t last, but I know now that this feeling is quite normal for me, so I give it time to pass.
It takes me a long time. Even if I’ve been to the place many times before, it’s just an adjustment and for me it takes a long time.
It’s important to make the best of your time in a new place. A few years back, I spent 6 weeks in Berlin. We split our time in different apartments and neighbourhoods, and I never fully felt settled. I didn’t have the best experience, and I think part of it comes down to me never feeling like I’d settled properly.
Thankfully I’ve come up with a few tips, routines and exercises that help me settle into a new place when I arrive which I hope you’ll find helpful!
As always pick what works for you and ignore the rest!
10 Rituals, Exercises and Tips that Help Me Settle into a New City
1. Travel Slow
The rule to rule them all: TRAVEL SLOW. I repeat: Travel Slow.
I’ve met dozens if not hundreds of nomads over the past years and one thing most of us learn eventually is that attempting to travel to fast is the worst you can do. I’ve met girls who travelled to over 40 cities in 6 months!! How they get any work done in the meantime is beyond me… but the point here is, it’s not sustainable.
Eventually this kind of pace will take its toll on your health and your productivity.
I know there’s a whole world out there and you want to see it all. right. now. But try to slow down as much as possible.
I now try to stay at least one month, better 3 – 6 months in one place. You’ll have to find your own pace, but remember, slower is usually better as a nomad.
2. Plan ahead as much as possible
One of the keys to settling into a new place is to plan ahead as much as possible.
Some people are planners, other more spontaneous, it’s up to you how much prep you want to do, but a certain amount of planning will not only make the actual travelling part easier, but also settling in once you arrive.
Things I like to prepare:
Figure out what the sim card situation is. Will you need a new one, or can you use your Sim and roam (like in most the EU now), where can you buy one once you arrive. For me, knowing I’ll be able to connect (and use Google Maps) is super important as it helps me feel more relaxed in a new place.
Where are you staying? Sometimes you don’t want to book ahead for your whole stay, but booking a place to crash for at least the first few days will help ease any anxiety you might have about arriving in a totally new place. Then once on the ground, you can find a more permanent solution.
Make some friends pre-arrival. How do you make friends before you’ve even landed? Facebook Groups of course! Whenever I plan a trip to a new place I reach out to other nomad girls in the DNG Facebook group and also join a few local digital nomad, expat or traveller groups. Not only can I ask some question about the new place, but I might even set up a coffee date with a potential new friend or coworking buddy on one of the first days after I arrive.
3. Take your time
Another important rule when it comes to settling into a new place, is to take your time. Some people only need a day or two, others take a week or even two or three. It’s ok. You can’t really change this about yourself, so accept it and be kind to yourself.
My boyfriend for example arrives at an Airbnb or flat we’re renting, rearranges the furniture to his linking, puts away his stuff and finds a cosy working space to set up his laptop stand, mouse and keyboard. Et voilà, he’s arrived!
For me, it ain’t quite that easy.
It can easily take me a week or two to feel like I’m even halfway settled, even in places I’ve been to multiple times before. I know that now and just take it easy.
And despite being a total extrovert, I don’t force myself to be sociable too early on. I need a couple of days just for myself, to feel comfortable at home, buy my favourite groceries (and tea!) and walk around the neighbourhood to get my bearings.
4. Plan your ‘perfect day’
This is a relatively new ritual of mine that I started when we arrived in Medellin, Colombia after living in Las Palmas for over a year and it really helps settle into a new city, plus it’s fun!
If you’re not familiar with the perfect day exercise, it’s a simple visualisation exercise where you write down in great detail what your perfect day looks like, from the moment you wake up, to the moment you fall asleep at night. It’s a great exercise to find out what’s important to you and what you want your ideal life to look like.
As much as I love this exercise, as a nomad I’ve found it really tricky as my perfect day wasn’t always feasible. For example, I love to channel my inner Moana and spend time by the ocean, but in Medellin that wasn’t possible.
That’s why I now go through the perfect day exercise every time I arrive in a place that I’ll stay for longer than a week or two.
For example, in Las Palmas I like to go for a run along the beach a few mornings a week, but in Chiang Mai I’m landlocked, plus there’s a lot of traffic, air pollution and a lack of proper pavements or a park where I could run. So running wasn’t really an option for me there (I don’t like gyms much).
Instead, I made sure the place we were staying had a pool (I wish I could have a pool everywhere!) so I could go for a swim in the morning.
Once you have explored the new city a bit and know your neighbourhood, go through your whole day and come up with a perfect day. This will also help you adjust your routine to your new surroundings. Planning to eat dinner at 5:30 pm ever night might work well in North Carolina, but won’t fly in Spain where you might starve by the time your tapas are served at 10 pm.
I created a free checklist for you which also includes a worksheet with the Perfect Day exercise, you can download it here > >
5. Tell Google you’re ‘Home’
As soon as I arrive in a new apartment I whip out my iPhone and do a wifi speed testset my Google Maps address to ‘Home’.
This is super crucial as I have a terrible sense of direction and knowing I have my new home saved, means I can always find my way back without the need for breadcrumbs (couldn’t help myself, sorry!).
If you’re not quite as “orientationally” challenged as me, then you can skip this step.
6. Actually do a speed test
Most of us do this anyway, but knowing I can rely on my wifi at home makes me feel so much calmer. I like to also do speed tests in cafes to see if this could be a good potential working spot.
7. Walk everywhere
Now that I can safely find my way home, it’s time to go explore a bit. In order to get your bearings, it’s really best to just walk around your new neighbourhood, get a bit lost, find cute cafes or shops and your nearest grocery stores.
If you’re in a big city, find out what the deal is with public transport, do you need a monthly pass, what are the operating hours etc.
Also check if there are any local bicycle shares like Mobike in Chiang Mai, if there’s Uber or Grab available and how much taxis cost. Knowing how to get to different places in town will help you feel much more independent and if there are any events or meetups you want to go to, the barrier will be much lower already.
I even do this in places I’ve been to before as things change, restaurants disappear (rest in peace ‘Los Girasoles’), new tram lines appear and it’s just nice to get the lay of the land.
8. Make friends
There’s no way I’d ever really feel settled and comfortable for longer periods than maybe a couple of weeks if I didn’t have any friends to hang out with.
Of course, you can’t expect to make new ‘best friends’ (best friends are a tier, remember, not a specific person) everywhere you go, but I do find it important to have some buddies to explore local markets with, go on adventures and meet up for a bowl of ramen or three.
If you’re more introverted and don’t find it so easy to make new friends, you can also plan your trips around your friends.
So either travel somewhere together or visit friends in different places. It’s always easiest if they’re fellow digital nomads as you’ll get each other’s lifestyles and they won’t be disappointed if you have to, uhm, say… work.
Personally, I work mainly from home for a few reasons which I’m gonna share in a separate post with you soon.
Suffice it to say, I’m a bit of a couch potato when it comes to my work set up, but I do like working outside a few times a week because I find it helps me focus. I prefer working from quiet cafes (or better: tea houses), ideally ones that also serve food as I can then use the need for pasta as a motivator to leave the house and work outside.
Find a couple of places you feel comfortable working so you know where to go when you feel like a change of scenery.
A lot of my nomad friends swear on coworking and even if you don’t want to join a full-time coworking space, you can still cowork privately or virtually.
In many nomad hotspots (and plenty of other cities too actually), you can find local coworking groups, usually freelancers who meet up regularly at cafes or libraries and get some work done together. I love this concept as it’s a great way to combine meeting new friends with being productive and getting out of the house.
If in-person coworking isn’t feasible for you, then virtual coworking might just be the perfect fit.
What is virtual coworking?
Basically it’s like real-life coworking, just that you meet on Zoom or Skype; you can take a look at what that looks like right below!
Sounds crazy? I personally do virtual coworking multiple times a week in our DNG Inner Circle, and some of our members are so hooked, they do it almost every day and plan their schedules around the sessions.
It’s awesome because the barrier to join is extremely low (hello, I sometimes show up with a towel on my head) and it can be very productive and sociable at the same time. Win win win.
Bonus: Have a leaving routine
This is more about settling out than settling in, but knowing what you need to do before you leave a place is equally as important as knowing what to do when you arrive.
I’ve got a new personal rule that I need to know minimum one month in advance what I am doing, otherwise I get super anxious and am not able to focus on anything. That also means know when I’ll be leaving, how I’m getting to the new place and what I need to prepare.
Getting all my travel ducks in a row means I have to stress less which in turn means I arrive less stressed in a new place.
I also allow myself to take the day before travelling off if possible, so I have enough time to pack, say goodbyes, and do any chores that need doing (like last minute mani pedis or equally important stuff).
Phew, who knew I had so much wisdom stowed away about settling into a new place. One thing’s for sure though, as I continue to travel and adjust my travel style, I’m sure my settling in routine will also change.
I hope a few of these tips will help you settle into a new city quicker and with more ease and if you need a bit more help, you can download our Settling In Checklist for free right here.
The Settling In Checklist includes a full checklist of everything to do before you arrive to a new spot, once you arrive and even how to plan your departure and will help you settle into a new city quicker. Plus – just for fun, I threw in our Perfect Day Exercise worksheet so you can get to planning your perfect day in your new city.
Let’s talk productivity today, girls! It’s a topic I see discussed in the Digital Nomad world A LOT. I think it’s safe to say that balancing your own business or freelancing career while travelling the world is challenging. I have yet to meet a single nomad who hasn’t struggled with this.
And yet, the nomadic lifestyle makes being productive both trickier and more important than ever at the same time. After all, you want to spend time on the things that matter to you most, right?
But before you download yet another productivity app or hack, there are some underlying principles and a few simple habits that can improve your productivity like crazy.
We covered Productivity inside the DNG Inner Circle this month and I invited productivity coach and digital nomad Jo Bendle, who shared her favourite SIMPLE productivity habits with us. I’m going to sum them up for you here to help you get your productivity going.
But before we start…
Let’s talk mindset!
What makes productivity especially tricky for digital nomads is our constant striving for ultimate freedom. Often we struggle to combine routines, habits, systems and plans – all the ingredients needed to become truly productive – with our desire to be as flexible, spontaneous, and free as possible. The last thing we want is some productivity guru forcing a routine and structure on us, as it feels like it’s threatening our freedom.
That’s why mindset is the first thing to get to grips with when we talk about Productivity, and realising that
“It takes discipline to be a free spirit.
It’s ok to set boundaries, use a calendar and even have set office hours (gasp). These won’t hinder your freedom, they will enable it.
So, the sooner we get over the notion that systems and structure are boring and don’t conform with our freedom lifestyle, the sooner we can embrace them as tools to create even more freedom for ourselves. And try to have fun with them!
We need get disciplined
I feel strongly that discipline deserves to be mentioned much more when productivity is discussed.
Let’s face it, it’s hard work to be productive. Especially in the beginning when you are still setting up your systems and settling into routines that work for you. It takes dedication, trial and error and beating bad habits.
I know it sounds easier to try out the latest productivity ‘hack’ that promises to ramp up your productivity 10-fold, than trying to becoming disciplined, right?
But how often do these hacks actually solve our productivity problems? For me personally, never. At least not by themselves, only if they’re part of my overall system.
Thankfully, our productivity expert Jo has some simple and free(!) tips for us to staying productive as a digital nomad girls:
Goals & Focus
Before you can start working on your productivity, you have to know what you’re actually trying to achieve.
There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive and you can only be productive if you’re working towards a specific goal. Whether you set your goals, annually, quarterly, monthly or weekly (or ideally all of these!), goal-setting has to become part of your productivity routine.
Jo recommends setting your daily goals the day before and aligning them with your weekly and monthly goals.
Once you’ve set your goals it’s crucial to keep focused on them. Shiny object syndrome is real, yo. Entrepreneurs and freelancers are usually creative people and you’ll have tonnes of great (and some not so great) ideas that you’d love to follow up on.
But if you want to be successful and productive you have to stay focused on your big goals. No matter what others are doing, or how awesome this great new business opportunity sounds. Stay focused and remember:
“You can do anything but not everything.”
Inside the DNG Inner Circle we have monthly goal setting sessions to help us stay on track and focused on our big goals. Check it out here > >
Of course, goal setting is only the beginning, once you’ve set them, it’s time to take massive action.
Especially in the beginning of your freelance career or of your online business it can feel like you’re constantly chasing your tail, reacting to requests and clients, and not really working ON your business.
A great way to make sure you are working towards your big business goals, while also taking care of the day to day tasks is by setting aside a set amount of time every day. It doesn’t matter if you can only spare 30, it’s better than nothing and will add up.
Switch off all your notifications, tell clients you’re out of office, and work on 1-3 tasks that will get you closer to your big goal.
These tasks don’t have to be massive, ideally they’re small and achievable. Maybe your big goal is to launch an online course this year. One small task can be to pick a name for your course, or draft the outline of the different chapters.
Taking consistent action like this daily will get you to your goals, even if it feels slow in the beginning. Remember:
“A little progress each day, adds up to big results”
And in addition, you’ll feel great for working towards your big goal and like you’re accomplishing something which will keep you motivated.
Review, Tweak & Improve
The last step towards greater productivity is checking in with your progress regularly. Jo has a quote she loves which says:
“High performers self-monitor more than underperformers”
Review your goals regularly and often, ideally daily (seriously!) to make sure you’re on track and not wasting your time.
Jo recommends doing an End of Day Review as well as Weekly reviews in addition to your monthly, quarterly and annual reviews and goal sessions.
Reviewing doesn’t have to be dull, you can make it fun and even turn it into a little ritual you actually look forward to. Write down everything you’ve achieved that day (or week) and take a moment to celebrate your achievement.
Then write down what worked, what didn’t work and what you could improve, before setting your goals for the day or week ahead.
It’s really that simple.
Start by committing to take 5 minutes every day to review what you did and plan your 3 important tasks for the next day. Then block off 30 minutes of time the next day (ideally as early as possible in your work day) and focus only on those 3 tasks that will drive your business forward.
We’ve been implementing these simple habits into our daily and weekly routines this month in the DNG Inner Circle and I’ve been getting great feedback from the girls.
And as always, don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon for a few days (or weeks, or months). You can always start again and get back on track.
I hope these tips are helpful and you’ll try implementing them one by one. Let me know how it goes and comment below!
Oh hi, I’m so glad you’re reading this article. Chances are you probably found it somewhere on Facebook or another social media platform, right? That’s the beauty of social media, it let’s us share great content that our readers will love and will find useful.
Social media has become so powerful that it can easily feel like you need to be on every platform, follow all the trends and try all the shiny new tools to reach your audience and find new clients. No matter if you’re a remote freelancer or starting your own business, social media will definitely play a big role in your everyday life.
Sadly, that can start eating up your time like the hungry, hungry caterpillar. I know, I’ve spent my fair share getting lost in Facebook Groups, scrolling through miles of Instagram feed and getting sucked into the Twittersphere while I actually just wanted to share a cool article on my Facebook page.
It’s normal, it happens to us all. But the good news is, there are a handful of tools that can really make your life easier. I’ve worked as a freelance social media manager for over a year and run all the Digital Nomad Girls channels all by myself. That means I’ve also tried my fair share of social media scheduling and analytics tools over the years. Every time there was a new kid on the social block I tried it out.
Thankfully, those days are over now as I’ve found my favourite tools for the five channels I regularly use. I now only use three social media tools on a regular basis and I’m so happy I found them, I thought I’d share them with you. So, without further ado:
The only three social media tools you need as a digital nomad girl:
My absolute favourite social media tool is SmarterQueue. I’ve been using it for a good few months now and the time I spend posting content in my Facebook group, on the Facebook page and on Twitter has gone down dramatically. SmarterQueue is a super powerful tool that allows you to schedule content, add different categories, discover cool articles, and most importantly for me: re-queue evergreen content.
What is evergreen content?
These are blog posts that are always relevant to your audience and that you can regularly share to get more visibility and traffic to your website. For example, I wrote a guide about the best places to find remote work which is super popular. Without a tool, it would just sit on my blog and most people might not see it when they visit. It’s definitely evergreen as it’s always relevant, so now it get’s shared to my page around once every 3 weeks.
And don’t worry about being spammy. SmarterQueue actually stops you from sharing things too often so it doesn’t go against the platforms’ terms and conditions and most of your followers don’t see all of your content anyway.
Another super cool feature of SmarterQueue is the Discover function. If you’ve ran out of great ideas for content this is a super easy way to find interesting articles and posts your audience will like.
SmarterQueue isn’t a free tool, it costs $19.99 per month and you can connect up to 4 channels (e.g. Facebook group, Facebook Page, Twitter & Instagram). They are planning to add Pinterest soon which will be super interesting for me. If you’d like to try it out, you can use my link here and you get a 30-day free trial to test out all the features, that’s double than their usual free trial. I think it’s the best value out there, especially compared to other tools like Meet Edgar which costs about 4 times as much.
Oooh, Planoly is my absolute favourite new social media toy on the block! It’s only for Instagram and it will seriously change your Insta game. Planoly allows you to create, schedule and organise your Instagram posts.
The real beauty of Planoly (besides its pretty design) is the grid preview function. It allows you to drag and drop your pics around to beautifully arrange your Instagram grid. You can even add placeholders in your brand colours, for example if you want to add quotes or other images that aren’t ready yet. This makes it sooo much easier to stay on brand, find content that matches your overall look, and it’s also really fun to play around with.
There’s also a cool discover function where you can search Instagram directly inside Planoly by hashtags or accounts to find great content to repost. And the cherry on top of the Planoly icing is the hashtag save function. You can create multiple custom hashtag groups for different themes or topics and then add your hastags with one click. No more switching between apps,copy pasting from Evernote. This is so much easier and saves a lot of hassle.
And best of all
Planoly is totally free to use for up to 30 uploads a month! If you want to upload more photos or plan your content ahead for multiple months, you can upgrade for only $7/month if paid annually, or $9 a month paid monthly. I use the paid version and I absolutely love it and feel it’s great value for money. In one day I’ve planned out and scheduled Instagram content for 2 months, whereas before I’d make it up on the go, which takes way more time and I wasn’t being consistent at all.
Just a word on Instagram tools and Planoly: Whenever your scheduled post is ready to go live you will receive a push notification from Planoly on your phone and can then post it on Instagram. This is the same for all legit IG tools as it’s against their T&Cs to automate posting, so the last step is always manual.
Last but not least, let’s talk Pinterest. Pinterest is definitely the channel I’ve neglected most and that’s really silly considering DNG is for women and travel related, therefore prime Pinterest content. The good news is, there’s a little tool called Tailwind.
Tailwind has been created for Pinterest scheduling but you can also use it for Instagram, it’s just a matter of preference. Tailwind lets you create a posting calendar with as many slots as you want and you can then fill up the spots with your own content and repins of cool things you find all over the internet. It has a handy Chrome extension which allows you to add any content you find on social media or on blogs to your Tailwind queue.
A really nice feature is that you can add content to multiple boards and space out when the pins are shared. Tailwind also suggests the best times to pin based on your audience and past data.
It comes with really in depth analytics so you can get a really good idea of what’s working and what isn’t. I find the user interface very intuitive and have used it successfully for clients for a long time. I saw huge increases in traffic and repins and am planning to do the same for DNG now too.
That’s it! These are the only three social media tools I use for Digital Nomad Girls at the moment. They have saved me a tonne of time over the last months and as I get to know them better I’m sure I’ll save even more. Paying for these three tools means I don’t have to hire a social media manager or VA for now, and once I am ready to outsource my social media it will be super easy to show them how to do it.
What are your biggest social media time sucks? Share with us in the comments below!
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and sign up to that tool or service I might get a free month or an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend tools I’ve actually used and I love. It’s a win win!
Welcome to our brand new Quick Tip series on the Digital Nomad Girls Blog! Every week we will bring you simple, quick tips that will help you run your location independent business. How to Save Time & Sanity Using Email Templates.
Please put up your hand if you’ve ever wanted to throw your laptop at the wall because you were struggling with a niggling tech issue for hours and hours.
Is your hand up? Thought so.
And often all it takes to figure out your annoying tech problem is to ask one of your clever friends and suddenly you can’t even remember why you struggled with it so much in the first place.
Like every Digital Nomad, I have been there so many times and that’s why I thought it would be awesome to share all these little tidbits of wisdom with you, to help you save time and sanity. In bite-sized chunks, or quick tips.
No matter if you’re running your own business, are a freelancer or a remote employee, emails will probably take up a good chunk of your time each day. And often it feels like we’re writing and sending the same email over and over again, right?
Well, that’s because we often are doing exactly that. Today I found out that you can save emails that you use all the time directly in Gmail to re-use future, which is super helpful if you get the same question or request over and over again. And I’ll quickly share with you how that works so you can save a ton of time each week and not feel like you’re going crazy repeating yourself.
So here’s our first quick tip: How to Save Time & Sanity by Using Email Templates
Step 1: Activate Gmail Templates
Click the gear icon in Gmail and click on Settings
Then click on Labs in the top navigation bar
In the search bar type ‘canned responses’, then tick the enable box and save the changes.
Step 2: Create an Email Template
Click on ‘compose’ to write a new email.
Write the text you’d like to use as a template, then click on the little grey downward arrow in the bottom right corner, select ‘Canned Responses’ and then ‘New Canned Response’.
You can then give it a name and hit save.
Your template will now be saved and you can insert it into any new email. Here’s how:
Step 3: Using your Email Template
Click ‘Compose’ to write a new email. Then click the little grey downward arrow in the bottom right corner, ‘Canned Responses’ and under Insert pick the saved template you’d like to use.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to change your Subject Line because Gmail will automatically use the name you gave your template email. That could be awkward, right?
Then finish customising your email, add your recipient and hit send.
Ta da!! You just set up and sent your first template email. Woohoo!
I really hope this tip was helpful for you and will save you heaps of time in the future. Do you have any handy Gmail tips? Please share them in the comments below!
As Digital Nomads we have to juggle a lot at once: working (often for ourselves), travelling to wonderful new places always searching for good wifi wherever we go. We also have to stay productive, keep in touch with family and friends and get all our work done so we can enjoy ourselves and explore new countries.
But don’t despair, because the secret to it all is in the name: digital nomad. We have access to a host of incredible tools that helps us stay focused, organised and on track. Here are our top 13 productivity tools for Digital Nomad Girls:
Let’s get started!
There are hundreds if not thousands of project management tools available and it’s so hard to pick the right one. Don’t worry about looking through them all because we’ve picked our favourite ones for you: Asana and Trello.
Trello is available for free for smartphone and desktop and you can use it to basically organise your whole life. Based around project boards and cards, it’s a visual tool that is simple, flexible and even fun. You can add different members if you’re working on a collaboration, assign due dates to different tasks that are added to the integrated project calendar. Team members can use the message function which makes communication quick and easy. Plan any project, from your start-up to your next visa run or family holiday with Trello.
Asana is another free tool that is really popular for project management, especially if you’re working with a team. Asana is list-based but now also offers card view, similar to Trello. We really like that you can set recurring tasks, assign tasks to team members and set due dates for each task which then show up in one central calendar. It’s definitely a powerful tool and can help you organise anything from projects to your blog or a whole launch.
While Trello is perfect to plan any project, Evernote is like your virtual filing cabinet. Need to keep a receipt? Snap a pic of it and file it away in Evernote. Lost that business card of that awesome girl you met at a networking event? No problem, because you’ve snapped a pic and filed it away carefully. You can add to-do lists and create folders for every aspect of your life. Don’t worry about carrying important documents around with you, they are all safely stowed away in Evernote.
If you’re like me you’ve spent many hours of your life cursing at the screen because you can’t remember a password. We are told we should use unique passwords for every site we log in to, but seriously, there’s just no way to remember a million passwords without help.
But don’t worry, your life will be much easier soon. Introducing LastPass, a FREE password management system, that helps you keep track of all your passwords and even helps you create safe ones, so you don’t have to use your birthday anymore. It’s easy to use and even available for smartphone for a small fee. Never fight with your passwords again.
Work Hard Anywhere is an Android and iOS app for freelancers, entrepreneurs and digital nomads to find wifi around the world. It’s basically a map that shows you cafes, libraries and coworking spaces around you with reliable wifi. They currently feature over 7800 places with wifi in over 1700 cities around the world. Users can add their favourite working spots, so the database is constantly growing.
If you have social media channels for your business you will want to use an app like Hootsuite to schedule your posts. Especially while in transit it can be a huge hassle to keep track of all your posts and platforms. And if you have to add different time zones into the equation it get’s really messy.
Hootsuite is free to use and will help you manage all your social media work, even if you’re on a 30 hour flight or on a multi-day jungle trek.
Nomad List is a great online resource that assigns a “Nomad Score” to destinations. The criteria taken into account are availability of high speed wifi, cost of living, weather and safety. It’s a great starting point to research potential new destinations and gives you 3 different monthly costs of living: local, expat and nomad. From our experience a realistic budget usually lies between the nomad and expat costs.
Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers on the market, and for good reason. One of the features that makes Chrome so awesome for Digital Nomads is the extensive library of free Chrome extensions. We will soon feature our favourite Chrome extensions in a separate post, but we wanted to mention a really cool one here: 1-click-timer is a super simple timer that is used for the Pomodoro technique.
Pomodoro means you set yourself a timer (a simple kitchen timer works, but is a bit cumbersome to travel with) for a certain amount of time and then work on one task or project without distractions for that amount of time. Between two Pomodoros you take a break of a few minutes to rest your eyes, and recharge a bit. The 1-Click-Timer extension is one of the best timer apps we found and is one of our favourite productivity tools for digital nomad girls.
It’s so hard to pick just one communication tool, but Slack is definitely our favourite one. It’s super simple, works on all devices and lets you streamline your messages by using different channels. Slack is really easy to set up and free to use. You can also customise your notification settings for each channel to make sure you take some time off and unplug once in a while.
What did we DO before Google Drive? I seriously have no idea. Google Drive is one the best tools to store your documents and files on the cloud. You only need a Gmail address to log-in to your Google Drive and Google even gives you 15GB for free, which is plenty. It’s such a great tool to share documents and photos with people and you can adjust the privacy of each document or folder separately which is often really helpful. Google Docs and Sheets basically replaces Word and Excel and all your files can be accessed from around the world. If you’re not using it yet, you’re missing out.
Another one of those tools where you ask yourself how you ever managed without it. Calendly is a simple appointment scheduling tool. You create a profile, set up different types of meetings (15-minutes, 30-minutes etc) and fill in your availability. Then you send out your custom Calendly link to your clients and friends and they can pick a time that works for them and book an appointment with you.
The best feature is that Calendly takes your time zone and that of the person booking the appointment into account. This means never missing skype calls again or showing up on (your) time just to realise the other person is still asleep. It has a free version to sue that supports one type of event (I use the 30-minute event) or you can pay a fee to enable more events and unlock other features.
If you’re not using Zapier yet, you’re seriously losing out on some productivity magic. Zapier basically lets you connect all your favourite tools, helping to automate your processes. For example, if you’re using Typeform (which you should) for a survey or as an application form, you can create a Zap (that’s what the connections are called) between Typeform and Trello (for example). Every time someone fills in your Typeform, Zapier automatically creates a new card on a list on board that you specified. And that’s just one of millions of options!
An oldie but goodie, Skype is still one of the best ways to communicate with people and whole teams world wide. No matter if you want to call your gran for her birthday or if you have an important conference call with your boss back home, use Skype for hassle free audio and video calls. You can even call landlines and mobile phones for a fraction of what it would cost to use your mobile or a hotel phone. Skype also lets you hold calls with multiple people and you can share your screen which can be super useful.
With so many awesome (and free!) tools you can stay productive and save precious time that is better spent exploring and making new friends. Are you using any of these tools? Or do you have other favourite tools? Please share in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Some of the links used here are affiliate links. What does that mean? It means that at no cost to you, we will receive a small commission if you use our link to sign up to some of these tools. We never recommend any tools that we don’t love to use ourselves. So, It’s basically a win-win 🙂