Not sure how to plan your day when working from home or traveling? As a fellow solopreneur and traveler I feel your pain. That’s why I decided to put together this list of my top 10 planning tips specifically for people like us who don’t have a set routine.
When you’re a digital nomad, solopreneur or long-term traveler, planning is essential to ensure your day goes as smoothly as possible, you don’t miss out on any opportunities while traveling or you’re able to maximize your time at home.
In this article we’ll explore 10 of the best ways for solopreneurs working from home or abroad to plan your days effectively, prioritize tasks efficiently and use technology wisely in order to stay organized throughout your travels.
I’ll also discuss how important it is to keep flexibility and fun in mind when creating plans – after all, no one wants a dull vacation!
So let’s get started with my top 10 planning tips for digital nomads today!
Tima Miroshnichenko | pexels.com
Top 10 Planning Tips – TL;DR
1. Set aside time each day for goal setting and planning.
2. Develop a morning routine that works for you and stick to it.
3. Break down your tasks into small, manageable steps.
4. Schedule breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout.
5. Make time for exercise and relaxation.
6. Connect with other solopreneurs for support and networking.
7. Set boundaries between work and personal time.
8. Outsource or delegate tasks that you don’t have time for.
9. Make use of technology to automate or streamline tasks.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Let’s take a look at how to put some of these tips into action;
1. Set aside time each day for goal setting and planning
Unless you know what you’re going to do each day, you’ll open your laptop or phone and before you know it a couple of hours (or sometimes a whole day) will pass and you’ll have no idea what you actually achieved.
In an ideal world you’ll already have engaged in a goal setting exercise and will have a vision of where you want to be three years/1 year/six months from now. If not, that’s the first thing you need to do.
Once you know your overall vision, you can start planning monthly and weekly tasks to take you closer to your goals.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a to-do list as long as your arm. To avoid overwhelm, try to select only 3 to 5 main goals that you want to achieve this month. Then, if you can, break your goals down into weekly tasks to make them more manageable.
Pick a time that works for you, either last thing at night or first thing in the morning and identify your top 1 to 3 goals or tasks for that day. (Personally I prefer last thing at night as I can get very distracted in the mornings, and knowing what I need to do as soon as I wake helps me to maximize my productivity.)
Once you set your goals for the day, when you sit down to work the next morning, be sure to get straight into task 1, before doing anything else, for example, scrolling Instagram, checking Twitter, going through your business stats, looking at emails, etc, etc.
Christin Hume | Unsplash
2. Develop a morning routine that works for you and stick to it
I’m sure I’m quoting this wrong, but there is a saying that goes something like ‘seize the morning, seize the day.’
Morning routines have been a bit of a buzzword in the productivity and entrepreneurial world for the last few years. However, as someone who struggles a little bit in the mornings, one of my more effective planning tips is to create an excellent morning routine and sticking to it.
There’s no point in trying to follow what ‘gurus’ tell you you should do in the mornings. You need to find a routine that works for you.
Whether that’s jumping out of bed and hitting the gym, creating an early morning writing routine, spending time with family or loved ones, or sipping a coffee while listening to your favorite tunes.
The most important thing not to do, is check emails, scroll social media or read the news. All of the above will likely create negative feelings, or make you feel like you are beholden to others.
Design your morning so it’s yours and only yours. Don’t let any strangers into your morning space. Guard your morning time jealously!
3. Break down your tasks into small, manageable steps
I alluded to this in point number one. It’s important to break down big tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, especially when you’re traveling or working from home and are surrounded by distractions.
It’s amazing what can be done in just five minutes while waiting for a kettle to boil, or on an hours flight from one city to another, or a three hour train ride, or even while having a quick coffee in Starbucks.
As a solopreneur or digital nomad it can be very difficult to create or maintain a daily routine. Therefore, if for each task you have much smaller mini tasks that you can complete at varying times throughout your day, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
For example, you may have a big blog post you want to write. Take some time to break it down into smaller subheadings and treat each subheading as a mini task.
Perhaps you’re writing a book, recording a podcast or selling products on Etsy. Explore each task that’s going to take you 60 minutes or more and find ways to break it down into 20 minute segments.
This way if you’re able to spend 60, 90 or even 120 minutes on a single task, happy days you’ll get your task finished. However if you run out of time, have a family emergency which you need to attend to, need to jump on a flight, or catch a train, and find yourself with 20 minutes to spare you can dig into your task.
And if later, you have another 20 minutes and later another 20 minutes, all of a sudden your big task is done even though you were traveling for the day or dealing with home life.
Gustavo Fring | pexels.com
4. Set hard deadlines to ensure projects get finished
One of the biggest challenges in working for ourselves is that we are not accountable to anyone. This means that we have to be incredibly self disciplined and great at self management.
If you struggle with self management, you’ll be happy to know you are not alone. In fact, time management is one of my greatest weaknesses!
Almost everyday I’ll set deadlines that I don’t adhere to. There’s always something else to do, add, tweak etc. However, the key to finishing projects and getting things done is to set hard deadlines. In other words, non-negotiable deadlines. Once your time is up, what you’ve done is done and is good enough! (I know, it’s tough!)
One of my best planning tips for creating hard deadlines is to use an app such as the PomoDoneApp. Based on the Pomodoro technique of 25 min segments of work, I connect it with my Trello, and work in 25 min intervals to complete a project.
Personally I find 25 mins too short, so I usually skip the 5 min break it encourages you to take, but it’s a great reminder that 25 mins of your allotted time for this task has passed and if you’ve only given yourself an hour you know you’re almost halfway through your time limit.
It always without fail makes me work faster. Remember Parkinson’s Law “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Setting a timer ensures your work stops expanding!
Also when connected to a productivity tool such as Trello it records all your tasks and time spent on them so you can see at a glance where you’re spending your time and can allot more time to repeatable tasks that take longer or assess where you need to spend less time.
A very handy tool.
5. Set boundaries between work and personal time
This is a super tough one when working from home or on the road. It’s so easy to jump on your laptop or phone while watching TV in the evenings, or while sitting in a cafe in a new city.
Plus if you’re a social media influencer the chances are your personal life is your work.
However, if you just constantly work, work, work and never take a mental or physical break, even when you enjoy what you do, you may eventually burn out.
There have been times when I can’t even bear to open my laptop.
Just like recovery in sports is essential to peak performance, so is recovery in business. Whether you choose to sign off at 5 and not do anything work related after that time, take a full day or weekend off or take a week off a month, the choice is yours and down to your personality.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that you love it that much, you can go on forever! It will catch up with you. (Especially as you get older).
So plan in some purely personal time, away from the phone and computer and spend time with loved ones, go to the cinema, eat and enjoy food without photographing it and reconnect with nature. It will do you the world of good!
6. Outsource or delegate tasks that you don’t have time for
You may think you can’t afford to outsource, and when bootstrapping a lifestyle business it is essential to watch your costs closely. However, there will come a time when you won’t be able to afford not to outsource.
You’ll find yourself doing necessary tasks that take longer than you have time for but don’t generate income directly.
Examples include; laying out blog posts, editing videos, editing podcasts, dealing with emails or customer service, creating graphics etc.
The beauty of the world we live in now, is that you don’t have to employ full time people. Using sites like Upwork or Fiverr, you can hire people on contracts to do one off tasks for you or even work just a few hours a week taking some of the more menial tasks off your plate.
As soon as you can afford it, start to outsource those low value, but essential tasks and free up your time to focus on the more profitable or enjoyable jobs in your business!
7. Make use of technology to automate or streamline tasks
I’ve already mentioned PomoDoneApp and very briefly Trello for managing your to-do lists and your time.
Trello is my go to tool for managing my goals and tasks. It’s like having a whiteboard with lots of post-it notes that you can move around as priorities change or tasks get completed. But each post-it note also has other post-it notes attached behind it with steps to take to complete that task.
It syncs across your desktop and phone so you can use it wherever you are in the world!
No matter the business model you have chosen there are apps and tools which most certainly make your life easier.
These days you can throw up a website in no time using wordpress and a theme like generate press or WP Astra.
You can write blog posts, articles, even books with the help of AI tools such as Jasper or Writesonic.
You can create an entire content business using newsletters and paid subscriptions using sites such as Substack or Beehiiv.
Each and every tool available on the market today has been created to make your life as a creator/business owner easier. So don’t be a hero and try to do it all on your own. Use the technology available to help automate and speed up tasks.
Remember, money loves speed!
8. Connect with other solopreneurs for support and networking
This is such an important planning tip if you’re working from home or traveling. Running your own business online can be extremely isolating.
If you’re not actively pursuing connections it can become increasingly lonely and if you’re anything like me, being completely alone for too long leaves way too much space in my brain to think too deeply!
Join online communities, FB Groups, forums etc for online support. Seek out conferences, seminars or networking groups where you are. Connect with people online and arrange to meet face to face.
It won’t just happen. You have to put yourself out there and make it happen.
You don’t have to be a social butterfly, and be careful not to spend all your time chatting in groups rather than making your business work, but the power in just making a few solid connections far outweighs the time involved in some light networking online.
No woman (or man) is an Island and we all need a tribe of some sort, no matter how small, so don’t go it alone. Find some like minded people to share your journey with.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it
This is a tip I keep telling my 16 year old to heed! It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it’s a strength.
I know it’s hard. Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to reach out for fear of wasting someone else’s time, or you don’t want to look silly or be judged. But you’ll achieve your goals far faster if you’re prepared to learn from others rather than do all the trial and error yourself.
No matter what your current challenge, someone else has been there and found a way through it. If you’re not sure where to start looking for help, try google, youtube, TikTok.
In fact Twitter is my go to social media channel of choice for gleaning information regarding my niche at the moment. It’s a mine of information and apparently LinkedIn is similar.
There are also platforms such as Quora or reddit communities to ask questions, or if you’re willing to part with a few bucks, sites such as Clarity.fm have experts in all sorts of niches who charge per minute for specific advice.
There are answers everywhere. You just need to ask the right questions!
10. Make time for exercise and relaxation
If you’re a digital nomad, this probably isn’t a hard one. In fact one of my issues is a bit too much relaxation!
I live on a paradise Island in Thailand and my life is a whirlwind of boat trips, beach brunches and wanting to be out in the sunshine.
However, as a solopreneur we’re naturally wired to be workaholics. There are very few moments when I’m not setting up a shot for a blog header or an unsplash image, thinking of how I can turn a beautiful sunset into a product on Etsy or coming up with subheads for a blog post about one of the amazing destinations I’ve experienced!
However, as I mentioned in point 5 taking the time to truly step away will do you wonders!
Exercise however, is non-negotiable. There is no argument about what’s more important (even though there’ll be many times it feels like there is), money or health.
It doesn’t matter how much money you earn, if you’re not healthy you can’t enjoy it. No matter what your situation, you must always find time to keep your body moving, whether it’s going for a walk, a swim, hitting the gym, doing an exercise class etc.
It may feel like you just don’t have the time to do it all and believe me as someone who’s struggled with weight all my life, I feel you. But 30 minutes a day to walk around the block is something every single one of us can fit in and the benefits are immeasurable.
Plus you can listen to a podcast while walking! (Multitasking at its best!)
Bonus Planning Tip!
Review your progress!
We’re so quick to plan and make a note of what we haven’t been able to achieve, we never take a moment to actually appreciate what we have accomplished.
At the end of each day or week, take a moment to reflect on what you got done. This will either help you stay motivated and see how far you’ve come, or it will serve as a kick up the bum!
Elizabeth Baltadjieva | pexels.com
Tips for Utilizing a Daily Planner
As I’ve already mentioned I use Trello & the PomoDoneApp to organize my day, but if you’re unsure how to use a daily planner effectively, here are some planning tips to get the best out of your tools;
1. Decide what you need to do each day
The first step to using your daily planner is to decide what you need to do each day.
Start with a brain dump of all the projects/tasks you need to do and if you like, split them into categories like I do, (examples include; blog posts to write, emails, monetization projects etc).
Then pick your top 2 or 3 each day and add to your Today list. That’s your focus for the day. This will help with overwhelm.
2. Set a Schedule for Your Day
Once you have your list of the things that you need to do, look at your day and decide how much time you can realistically dedicate to each task.
Then, set a time limit for each task and create a rough schedule for your day (include things like lunch, breaks etc.)
3. Write it down
Once you have decided what you need to do and how much time you can dedicate to each task, write it in your planner, or if you’re old school, a ‘today’ notepad.
I do like my ‘today’ notepad as I can see at all times how much time I should be spending on a task and the time I’ve allocated. For example I should have finished this blog post 23 minutes ago, but I’ve just set my PomoDoneApp for another 25 mins as I’m not quite there yet! (See I told you time management wasn’t my strongest point!)
Done well, this will help you to stay on track and make sure that you are getting everything done.
5. Stick to your schedule
Ouch, this is the hardest part and yet one of the most important planning tips in this article!
Once you’ve set a schedule, stick to it! (or as close to it as you can).
Use the PomoDoneApp or set an alarm on your phone and keep your daily planner in a place where you can see it.
6. Make Time for Breaks
Again the PomoDoneApp will help with this (I promise I’m not affiliated with this tool, it’s free! I just love it).
But it’s important to take breaks throughout the day. This will help you to stay focused and avoid burnout.
The best break is a 10 min walk around the block. Do that 5 times a day and you’ve added 50 mins of exercise onto your day without even trying!
7. Don’t Overschedule Yourself
One of my most important planning tips is to not overschedule yourself.
Only schedule things you know you can realistically do in your day. If you try to do too much (as I regularly do), you will end up feeling overwhelmed, stressed and like you’re underachieving.
‘You can do anything, but you can’t do everything’ as Greg McKeown says in his book Essentialism.
Less is more my friend. Pick the most important outcomes you want to achieve and focus on the tasks that help you get there.
8. Focus on One Task at a Time
I know we all like to think we’re skilled multitaskers, but realistically if you want to do something well, F-follow, O-one, C-course, U-until, S-successful!
Matthias Zeitler | Pixabay.com
Make Room for Flexibility and Fun
As a digital nomad or solopreneur, it’s important to make room for flexibility and fun when planning your day.
As I’ve mentioned, allowing yourself breaks throughout the day keeps you motivated and energized. Taking short breaks every couple of hours can give you time to refresh and refocus on your tasks.
Incorporating fun activities into your schedule is also beneficial as it helps break up some of your more monotonous work-related tasks. Whether that’s going for a walk, listening to music, chatting to a friend or going for a sea swim – taking some time out of each day to do something enjoyable will help keep you in good spirits while working remotely.
Also be sure to take advantage of opportunities as they arise! As a digital nomad or solopreneur, there are often times where unexpected events (physical and digital) may come up that could be beneficial to your business growth such as networking events or conferences related to your industry.
Don’t be so rigid that you miss out on potentially beneficial opportunities and yet, be clear enough with your goals to recognise when things might be a waste of your time.
Just Say No!
Finally, learn how to say NO! The word No is your best friend if you want to be as productive as possible and achieve all your goals.
It’s hard for us digital nomads as our default is Yes! But that means that others with less time constraints than you, or people who want some of what you have, will ask for your time for free and more often than not you will be inclined to give it.
However, practice politely saying No unless it fits into your schedule and works with your plans.
Believe me you will feel better and get more done.
Matthias Zeitler | pixabay.com
Planning Tips for Solopreneurs & Digital Nomads – Summary
Oh no! My gong has just gone to tell me to stop writing, so I have to swiftly finish this post.
I hope these 10 planning tips have given you some great ideas to plan your day and become more effective.
It’s not easy when traveling or working from home to create and maintain a set routine and if you’re anything like me, you’ll likely find set routines inherently boring and tiresome in and of themselves.
That’s why setting only 2 or 3 tasks for the day and working with a timer, plus splitting up bigger tasks into smaller 20, 30 or 60 minute segments will help your naturally distracted mind to focus and be more productive. It also makes work more fun!
Have a productive day!