Being a digital nomad or working in a location-independent capacity doesn’t mean you have to travel but rather that you can. If you want to work for a few weeks at a trendy Co-Op in Asheville, NC and then catch a moderately priced flight to Taipei for a few months of intensive Chinese submersion, you can. But to make the most of the fringe benefits it helps to have a few tools handy and with over 64% 1 of the American population owning a smart phone (utilizing an App system) it is more simple than ever!
Below are what I consider the Top 5 Tools for the digital nomad . They are broken down by category.
WHERE DO I GO?
So you have built up some savings. You have clients on contract providing you with passive and consistent income. You have time to explore and a desire to learn more about a new culture. Where do you go? I would suggest Nomad List first.
Nomad List is a directory of cities and their stats such as cost of living, temperature, WiFi availability and speed, co-working space prices, safety, food prices and more. Each city is assigned a Nomad score comprised of the outlined criteria as well as a Q&A forum that has relevant threads displayed in the city result so you can immediately enter a conversation about your potential location.
HOW DO I REMEMBER THINGS?
I have toyed around with Evernote for nearly 3 years. The desktop app has constantly been a sort point for me. So many screens, options, updates, syncs, etc. Not to mention Evernote on desktop runs in the background constantly eating up battery power. That frustration changed though when I switched to the Evernote mobile App. Talk about a world of difference!
Evernote is a place where you can capture anything; save ideas, things you like, hear, or see, even when you’re walking down the sidewalk! You can then access your notes from anywhere on almost any computer or mobile device. As of late it has become essential for me.
WHAT TIME IS IT OVER THERE?
There is nothing worse than using a host of apps and tools that have a time zone option when setting up the account. Why? Because if you are like me you will NEVER remember to change them. This can be a problem when working with clients and/or teams in other time zones because you will eventually end up missing meetings, messing up deadlines, etc. Thankfully those days are gone for me though – for the most part – with The Clock.
Built as an App for the Mac desktop bar this floating menu bar tool allows me to see time zones in real time and how they are adjusted according to my time. The real sweetness though is the Meeting Planner feature which allows a user to access a time/day range slider to quickly see time differences in the future or past to schedule meetings. Don’t take my word for it. The App has a free trial period for you to explore. Meeting Planner is truly one of those things that doesn’t really make sense until you use it. Then it’s essential for the digital nomad!
HOW DO I GET MY MAIL?
Right now I am living stateside and primarily out of RV parks so I have had tremendous luck getting mail and even packages sent to the campground I am at. Granted, I have to have someone at my “mailbox address” to then forward mail to me at the campground, it has worked fairly well so far. Having packages shipped requires timing and sometimes some explanation as most campgrounds are not so receptive of unmarked or large packages. Enter Earth Class Mail.
Earth Mail is a company that scans and forwards postal mail to the e-mail address of your choice. So while it doesn’t help with packages it does allow you to receive all business mail and persona mail to your email Inbox no matter where you are in the world. For a small fee it even deposits checks. In addition, the company saves PDFs of your postal mail online and offers in-person pickup and package signing. Mind you, it isn’t cheap but it is essential for US based digital nomads.
WILL I MEET DEADLINE?
Project management is a huge concern and need for the digital nomad. When you are contracting out parts of your business or job or even when you are working on a multi-tier project for a client, project management is essential for a number of reasons. Since about 2006 I have been using Dropbox for my project management and I have never wanted to change. In fact, in 2012 Dropbox redesigned and streamlined their system making it even better both for desktop and mobile.
Basecamp helps you create projects and tasks, assign them to team members and upload attachments (this feature is essential in the design world)! They also all have their own calendar view and display tasks on other calendars such as Google, Outlook and iCal.
Currently I am learning how to use Basecamp to connect to third-party Gantt chart apps that give a visual representation of project timelines. Gannt charts are visual representations of how long each project will generally take and what your start and finish dates are. For a visual person like myself this integration as well as the Basecamp standard features lets me see when I have too much on my plate.