Ever since starting Benvenuti Arts, Founder and CEO Sarah Benvenuti has been living location independently as a digital nomad. With remote work much more common in a post-COVID world, Sarah will share what she’s learned in her years of working remotely and traveling in this series.
“Are you here on holiday?”
This is usually the first question I get when I meet a local in a new city when I’m nomading. It’s a tough question to answer, because I’m not there to live, but I’m also not on vacation when I travel. This is even harder to explain to friends and family back home sometimes, when they ask how I can afford all this travel.
Well, I work. All the time. That’s how.
While it can seem exciting and glamorous from the outside, living as a digital nomad does come with its own challenges. A huge one for me has been finding time for real rest while traveling. That change of location usually brings a surge of adrenaline, giving me more energy and focus for work when I’m strolling around London or taking a long lunch with friends in Barcelona in between meetings. I’ll often forget that I’m still working, and that I’m still in need of real rest, real time off.
This hit me hard recently, when I got the flu while visiting my brother’s family in Portland, Oregon. I was out for most of a week, and incredibly frustrated by it. I mean, I was just in Scotland for three weeks! Who am I to need rest now?
But the truth is, I didn’t rest while I was in Scotland. I didn’t take any time off; I just adjusted the shape of my days to adapt to the things I wanted to do while abroad.
This is a common topic of discussion with my fellow nomads, as we easily fall into the trap of working more in order to “compensate” for the fact that we get to spend time in so many new places. But that is not sustainable.
When we work remotely, we can often push ourselves to work through sickness or travel simply because we can. We don’t have to go anywhere; we just have to turn on our computer. But this doesn’t mean that we should. It took me a long time to realize this, and I still have to be reminded by my team to just stop sometimes. (If you got an email from me while I was down with the flu, then you know I have a problem!)
As you and your team figure out this new work world, or if you decide to dip your toe into traveling while working, don’t allow work to start seeping into every corner of your day. Plan time off. Go to a museum during a weekday – they are emptier then! Give yourself a day to recover from a flight. If you are sick, call in sick! I promise I’ll do the same.