Ask any freelancer, self-employed person, digital nomad or entrepreneur about productivity and you’ll hear that organising yourself always brings some challenges. Procrastination and distraction are after all a big thing!
It starts with researching and finding the right tools in the first place to set yourself up and to stay productive throughout the day, to building a professional website and staying in touch with your clients, share documents across your team to finally simplify marketing and writing invoices.
I surely didn’t have this worked out from the start but it’s been a progress of collecting tool, integrating them into my daily workflow, ditching the ones that don’t work, go out of business or whatever. So to make it a bit easier for you, I thought I’d put all the tools together that I use for my daily workflow.
This page is continually growing as I learn and add new tools. If you have used any cool tools that aren’t listed yet and I should know about, do let me know in the comments. I am always looking at learning about something new.
Coworking, Wifi & Travel Organisation
You surely cannot go past Nomad List, no matter if you are only just starting out as a digital nomad or if you are already working location independent and eyeing a new destination. Nomad List is the ultimate source to find the best cities to live and work remotely. The filters you can put are amazingly detailed, ranging from wifi speeds to weather, safety, things to see and do and much more.
Speed test the Internet connection at any café with a simple tap BEFORE sitting down, this app has saved me from frustrations in a number of instances, when free wifi was advertised but in fact the connection wasn’t working (which happens in Asia frequently, right!). There is also a mobile app and you can save results to refer to later on too. Fun design, easy to use, never really felt the need to look at another speedtesting app.
Great little app that sits on my phone for when I need to find a nearby workspace. It’s free to use and you can apply a number of filters, for example if you need power plugs, parking spots nearby, you can see the opening hours, if it’s cheap, has coffee and much more. It lists libraries, cafés as well as coworking spaces. Since it’s crowdsourced, some locations have more entries than others, but I am hoping it is continuing to grow in the future.
Hate gym memberships as much as I do? Simply because you are locked in to one things for (mostly) a long time. And I like flexibility. Copass is a membership for independent coworking spaces around the world, so you can choose which ones you want to go there, maybe one day you are working from Sydney and next week you are in Berlin and then off to LA.
Home isn’t always to best place to work from, because it has distractions, right? Workfrom shows you the best coffee shops with wifi and power close to your location. There is also a #Workfrom Slack Chat if you are interested in joining a community of like-minded people.
I love Uber and have used the app to find private rides and rideshares all over the world like Bangkok, Berlin and Brisbane (what a coincidence they all start with B!). I always felt really safe, got to my destination in time and with friendly drivers, so far never had a bad experience and will continue to recommend it, especially good for anyone arriving in a new country where Taxis from the street are not considered safe.
I really like using Airbnb for short-term accommodation in a new place I go to. It’s super easy, there are some cool places on there and I have had only great experiences with it. Mostly, it also works out cheaper than a hotel and I do like a homey atmosphere, a place where I live and can put my head down comfortably. When I plan to stay in places for longer, I usually use Airbnb for the first few days or weeks and then go out look locally for a place to stay.
If you haven’t tried and are thinking of getting started with Airbnb, you can now get $38 off your first booking with my link.
Productivity & Communication Tools
My go-to project management tool to organise literally everything! Great for to-do lists for your personal life too, however I mainly use Trello to build content plans for social media and other web content as it helps me stay organised and on time with different tasks, campaigns and projects. It’s also great to distribute tasks to other people and keep track of things that I published in the past. You could organise almost your whole life through Trello, it’s super easy and can also be linked to the Slack and integrates well with other tools.
On top of Trello, I also like using Asana, another project management tool which is a bit more extensive than Trello and therefore can seem a bit more complicated in the first place. I love it though, especially the calendar view and it’s super easy to work with your whole team as you can assign tasks and pass them down the line if you have finished one task and the next person is taking over for example.
I cannot imagine digital nomad life without Slack! This chat tool sits on my desktop and is on most of the day. It’s super handy to quickly communicate and share stuff with the whole team. Slack can be organised with different so-called chat rooms by topic which work both as groups or direct messaging. It integrates well with a large number of third-party services such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Super easy to use on the go with the smartphone app too.
Skype and Google Hangout
Even though I always buy a local sim card in a new country, there is literally no need to pay for international calls anymore. Having a local SIM card wherever I go, I can simply pay for data and call from there. This is also great when the wifi breaks down as I can still use the Internet with 4G then. For audio and video chats I use both Skype and Google Hangout as they are free. Both are also perfect for group video session. I also use screen sharing when I need to run my client through a particular issue or explain something.
I use it as time zone converter mainly but you can also schedule meetings through it in iCal or Google Calendar. Great, if you are travelling, have a meeting with a client on the other side of the world or just don’t know what time it is at your final destination. I set it up so I have all the relevant times are displayed on the homepage. I also usually have the Clock App on my iPhone set up to all the important time zones I need to keep in mind for clients.
I backup my files with Dropbox as I find it super easy to use and organise. It syncs easily so I can access my files on the go over my phone too. I also use Google Drive as you get a free 15GB across Google drive, Gmail and Google Photos on signup.
A cloud-based file transfer service I use if I need to send large files (up to 2GB in the free version). It’s oftentimes faster to upload here than synch over the cloud, depending where in the world you are.
A smart tool to see who opens your emails, how many times and from where they are opened in real time. It’s awesome to time follow-ups and see which links in the email the other person has clicked or document downloaded. The free version is limited to 200 trackings per month.
This one I use ALL THE TIME. And I am literally so thankful for this password manager which holds all the many various passwords, software licenses and other information in a virtual vault that is locked with a master password. I really wouldn’t want to live without this tool! Available for iPhone too, synchs perfectly, remembering passwords is now no longer required, thankfully, and I can have really secure individual passwords for different sites and won’t have to change every single one in case of an attack.
An online time tracking tool where I log and control my time on all daily tasks. It can track work time for teams too (free for a team of up to 5). Time entries can have a description, project and client associated with them. In the pro version you can also mark them as billable or non-billable. Detailed reports of how you have spent your time can be generated from the web app. So easy!
This neat little app helps match the computer screen light with the natural light around you, it dims into a warmer mode at sunset and wakes up when the sun rises again, which makes it easier on your eyes if you spend a lot of time in front of the computer, as pretty much all nomads do. It’s free!
Send emails at the right time. With Boomerang for Gmail it’s easy to schedule automatically at a time when you want your emails to be send out. If you work across time zones or with clients in -14 hours, you’d maybe want to send an email later or appear as if you are working when they are.
I often get asked what the screen app I use. It’s actually an extension for Google Chrome called Momentum. Everyday it gives you a different inspirational background, a to-do list you can add to as well as adding a you can add a single main focus of your day. To quickly help you navigate to your most important pages you can add link widgets and you also have to ability to search the app – let’s get productive!
There is another Chrome extension called Motivation, if you ever wanted to see your life ticking away. You need to provide your date of birth and will then get your exact age counting up and up and. It eventually made me so nervous though so I am back with Momentum. But it is a sweet extension to stop procrastination and get stuff done!
Wouldn’t want to build on anything else and have for almost 3 years now. WordPress is open-source web software to easily create a blog, portfolio or any website really and manage all your content – for free. It’s one of the most popular content management system today. Additionally, there are thousands of plugins and themes available to customise your site into almost anything you can imagine.
All my websites are hosted on Bluehost, one of the largest hosting providers out there. It’s inexpensive, easy to setup with the 1-click automatic WordPress installation while customer service has always been responsive whenever I had any issues. You can also buy your domain name on there. However, if you want your servers to be in Europe try All-Inkl.
You can get many many free themes for WordPress, however I like to use Premium Themes which usually give me a wider variety of design options as well as developers support and more frequent updates. I buy all my premium themes on ThemeForest which is powered by Envato.
Envato also serves as the leading marketplace for images, project files and other creative assets. For example, if you are looking for royalty free music, take a look at AudioJungle.
FileZilla is a free open-source FTP client which I use for data transfer.
Sublime is an easy-to-use text and source code editor supporting many programming and markup languages. It’s super intuitive, has a slick user interface and most of all: it’s free!
Probably one of the most extensive SEO plugins for WordPress that offers everything from a snippet preview to page analysis functionality to help you write and optimise your pages and post content, images titles, meta descriptions, generate XML sitemaps and many other optimisation options. If you’re on the edge of deciding what to do with SEO on your site, get Yoast, you won’t regret it!
A powerful keyword research tool to finding long-tail keywords and analyse the competition extensively to see what you can best rank for. After using Google Keyword Planner and various other services for keyword research, I have finally decided to go with Keysearch and I couldn’t be happier as it finds me the right keywords for my articles fast and cannot imagine my blogging workflow without it now.
An online marketplace where you can buy and sell micro-jobs online. If you need an inexpensive business logo or business card, this is the place to come looking for it. You can even find virtual assistants, copywriting professionals or programming masterminds on here. The starting cost is $5 per job (as you can guess from the name) and range up to $500, depending what you want done.
Browse privately wherever you go, so you never run into security problems while using open public wifi connections anymore. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can help protect and encrypt data like usernames, passwords, credit card details and cookies in public wifi networks which can usually be seen by anyone who is on it. There are free options, however many of them have restrictions in some way, so I eventually opted to buy Tunnel Bear as I use open networks frequently.
Finances, Banking & Invoices
Generate your invoices super easy and for free! Similar but a slightly different layout is the free invoice generator.
Quickest and easiest way to send money anywhere even when sitting on a tropical island! You can create professional looking emails and invoices to send and receive money with only an email address. Even your customers can pay you securely when they don’t have a PayPal account only by clicking a button.
Makes it easy to calculate live currency and foreign exchange rates for free. Love the app for iPhone too and use it pretty much every day.
A money transfer service I like using instead of PayPal especially when various currencies are involved and overseas bank transfers are too costly. I use it due to lower fees mainly and it’s super easy and intuitive too. You will see the fee for any transfer up-front before you transfer anything, so there are no surprises at the end, like I had them multiple times with PayPal.
I manage all my bookkeeping and finance stuff, from writing invoices to recording expenses and income. It’s all cloud-based and my tax accountant can easily can access to my data too, so there is no more paper and manual work needed! Since it’s super easy to use, I think it’s perfect for small business, startups and freelancers. Plus the company sits in Germany and I met the guys behind it, so I trust them with my data fully.
I used to have a Macbook Pro but as it got older it got slower and my luggage lighter so it was bound to happen that I traded the Pro for an Air. I love it any wouldn’t want to give it away for anything. I owe the 13 inch model which is light, exactly the right size, battery lasts forever and I keep it safe with a basic but sturdy light weight crystal case around it (I can also recommend looking at this hardcover case). And when people sometimes say: “but what about the built-in super drive to watch DVDs?”, you should ask yourself when you have used this feature last time – I have hardly used it on my Pro ever!
I backup all my files (additionally to a cloud backup over Dropbox) on an external hard drive from Western Digital which has 2 TB of space which so far proofed to be plenty for all the many photos, videos and other files I have on my laptop. It’s light, durable and you can secure it with an additional password so no one else can access your data.
I bought my first mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses over 3 years ago now. My main motivation to decide against a DSLR camera and for something more compact, was definitely the size and weight. Since I travel a lot, I do not like to carry bulky cameras around, let along the equipment, but I still wanted to take awesome photos, especially landscape, portrait and night shots. With the Sony Alpha, this is an absolutely breeze and I have been so happy with it, that I recommend it to anyone who love the picture quality of a DSLR but half the size and weight. Truly epic! And: it shoots pretty nice videos too.
I love taking action shots and videos around water & the beach, whether it’s taking snaps surfing, stand up paddling, snorkelling or jumping around waterfalls, a sturdy action cam was needed! so I finally decided on a GoPro and also spend a bit of money on equipment, like a floating stick, a floaty backdoor, some mounts and yep, I got a selfie stick too. It’s so great to play around with!
I love my iPhone, don’t think I am going buy anything else anytime soon. I love the big display of the Plus version since I do take, edit and upload a lot of photos and watch videos on the go, so it’s perfect for me. Also, I bought it unlocked so I can swap my SIM cards around without any hassle or contract ties. I also carry around an iPad Mini which I love using on the road then the Mac is too large (or can’t fit on the small RyanAir tables in-flight..).
Every digital nomad relies on wifi and what if there is no Internet connection? Mobile plans only cover oh so much GB of data to use them as a reliable hotspot. And what if you don’t have a local SIM card and have to pay hefty roaming fees? Therefore, I like using a mobile router and have owned this one from Skyroam for a while now. It works globally and can connect up to 5 devices at the time. Luckily, with this device you won’t need to enter any contracts but you simply pay for what you use which keeps it easy and transparent for just $8 a day of unlimited wifi. Absolutely invaluable!
Hootsuite is an extensive social media management tool which supports multiple social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and also Pinterest (in the business version) and more. I use it especially for scheduling to Twitter and Facebook but it is great to manage any channels without having to visit them all individually. I also now use it for Instagram to push images and captions I craft on my computer to my mobile, as that is the only way you can post on Instagram right now.
Additionally, you can create and customise different streams according to your individual business needs in order to monitor your own channels, competitors, hashtags and reply to comments and messages across platforms.
Buffer makes it simple to manage multiple Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn Accounts. And you can also connect it to Pinterest and Instagram finally! It has a very user friendly Chrome extension to make scheduling a bliss. I use it mainly for Twitter and it’s great to have simple analytics integrated to see which tweets do best and if they are worth tweeting again. There are however no streams to listen or monitor your audience, it’s really just a great app for scheduling and you will like it depending on what you want to get from your social media management.
This service helps you automate tasks and workflows, such as posting the same content across several social networks. It’s as easy as creating a so-called recipes once, which are then triggered based on updates you do on Facebook, Instagram or elsewhere. For example if I upload a photo to Instagram, then a new tweet with the image will be posted on my Twitter account. Great if there is no time to post individually on all channels.
Fantastic to schedule and manage your Instagram posts. You can upload photos and videos from your phone or to the web application from your desktop, which I find highly important as not all my photos are stored on my phone as I manage them from either the web or mobile app. Scheduled posts will be pushed to your phone and you can still use all Instagram filters and write a description as always.
Alternative: Schedugr.am – this is the only tool that lets you schedule to Instagram from the web without ever touching your phone, it works on a subscription paid month-to-month according to the number of followers you have.
A really simply tool to design your own awesome graphics for your website, social media and other marketing material, even print. It’s super easy and you don’t have to be a graphic designer at all, you just use the drag-and-drop interface. There are many pre-made sizes and over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts, most of them free or available for a small charge. You could also check out Piktochart.
MailChimp is an email marketing service provider I use to manage my contacts, send newsletters and track email marketing results. It’s easy to set up and connect with WordPress through a plugin with your personal MailChimp API key. You can use the free version for up to 2000 subscribers, and that’ll take a while on a new site, after that it’s by monthly payment. I love marketing apps that are also accessible on mobile as there are often some changes I need to react to on the go (or at breakfast sometimes…).
Tailwind makes it a breeze to schedule to Pinterest and Instagram. I mainly use it for Pinterest now as it’s easy to set up a schedule to get pins out across different boards, the best feature here is however the reporting and analysis function build behind it, so you can evaluate which pins are actually a traffic driver and optimise from there.
Finding Other Nomads
There are many different resources now to find other nomads around the world. Here are some helpful Facebook groups and links to find other Digital Nomads:
Also check out my article on how to find other travellers and digital nomads around the world.
Which tools are you using to stay productive on the road? Share with me in the comments below.
Some of the links above are affiliate links. Regardless of whether you buy through these links, I only recommend stuff I love and use myself.