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As gals who prioritize nature and getting outside, we’re often seeking—and booking plane tickets for—the next great adventure. Take it from a girl who’s lived in Hawai’i, New York City, Park City, and more since graduating college. As world travelers: thank God we live in the era of working remotely.
Digital nomad (n.) — a person who earns a living working online in various locations of their choosing (rather than a fixed business location.
Still, admittedly, some of the digital nomad advice touted on the Internet tends to feel a little…MLM‑y. As much as I love reading about pyramid schemes, I am so sick of seeing online courses claiming to teach you how to earn while traveling—a methodology which allows that digital nomad to earn while traveling, whose grand finale will be a list of remote-friendly jobs or a recommendation to create a course!
We’ll get into more recommendations, minus the corny opt-ins, later. But for now, let’s talk about the actual work bit. If you have the job, lodging, and setup, you’re golden, but many underestimate how hard it is to focus and discipline yourself while on-the-go, not to mention the damn weight of your carry-on when you’re lugging laptops, chargers, noise-canceling headphones, and other productivity essentials. Here are some of my favorite recommendations for boosting my efficiency while on the go (most of which tend to be tech-forward investments.)
5 Products That Will Make You More Productive
- Clutch Portable Charger—$50.
- SideTrak Swivel Portable Monitor—$330.
- Monos Metro Duffel—$210.
- Apple AirPods Pro—$179.
- Notion App—$5/month.
I swear by these tiny iPhone and Android chargers. Intended to be a similar size as your credit card, these uber-thin portable power banks contain over a full charge—but can fit in your wallet, evening bag, or pocket. I’ve used them while skiing, traveling, and more, and it’s definitely saved me when I’m running late to a Zoom call and can’t find a café power outlet in time. This product has given me such bang for my buck to the extent that I constantly recommend them to everyone and still think they’re underrated, and the Clutch Charger often has sales that make it easy to stock up.
I first tried the SideTrak Swivel Portable Monitor because I’m working on a book revision, which I’ve generally worked on via a plethora of butcher paper on the walls and multiple monitors. In an Airbnb in Utah, neither option would fly. (I shudder to think of what my host would think if I started tacking diagrams to the wall.) I needed a portable option I could take with me while on the go just for some extra square footage, thinking-wise, and for articles, references and research are way easier to track down on a second screen. While this 12.5‑inch monitor is pricey, it’s undoubtedly worth the cost of doubling or even tripling my productivity in the way it does. You essentially attach a magnetic plate on the back of your laptop—so you will need to be consistent about which computer you use for your monitor-attached work and perhaps avoid plastering it with stickers—to lock in the monitor, then snake around a cord to activate the screen.
Mac users, you will need to order the adapter in order to fit the HDMI cable to your computer. I do wish there were a case add-on option because the bare screen in my laptop bag makes me nervous—that will be my next buy!
As a “digital nomad,” I’ve often struggled with what to use as my personal item. I prefer to have my tech with me at all times, and my carry-on item is often a hard-shell suitcase that’s too tricky to extract my camera or computer from at short notice. So I need a sturdy, stylish computer bag—ideally with a pass-through sleeve that makes for easy rolling during the long long long long haul walk in the Salt Lake City Airport I swear it’s like a mile stretch. LORD.
I’m obsessed with the Monos Metro Duffel. It’s so sleek, has so many pockets, is lined with stylish felt and crafted of an attractive nylon, and most of all has external pockets that attach to the bag—meaning that I can over-stuff and overflow without having to check another item. This fits so much, and I especially love the two convertible straps. It also fits easily under the seat, and I always get complimented on it.
These might feel basic, but the Apple AirPods Pro are probably my most helpful purchase in terms of cost-per-use. I initially balked at the headphones’ price, as I got the first-generation when they were first released, but they’ve lasted me three years and counting, and I’ve used them everyday. The reason I bought them? I was stuck in my parents’ house with my six-plus person household (toddlers included) and my family didn’t seem to understand that work from home still meant work. I needed focus, which meant I needed silence, white noise, or music to drown out the child yells and chore requests from mom, at least during the hours from nine to five. Immediately, these headphones—which have such a small footprint, BTW—made a massive difference in my focus and well-being. I love that the Apple ecosystem effortlessly connects to and switches between all my devices. Plus, I’m primarily a musician, and so the sound quality is incredibly pleasing to my ears.
There is part of me curious about the AirPods Max too, but I’m not sure there’s a significant sound difference and I already have an over-ear pair—so my lust is mostly just for the aesthetics and the that-girl-on-Instagram prestige. Plus, I love how small and travel-friendly this pair of AirPods Pro is.
At this point, I’ve tried a lot of product management apps: Trello, Asana, Motion, you name it. None have been as successful for me and my mode of thinking as Notion, an uber-flexible platform that allows you to create and use customizable templates to fit every single aspect and workflow you need. I can’t gush enough about how easy it is to embed absolutely everything into this system—photos, calendars, text, documents, and more. I also recently attached the Zapier app which automatically sorts flagged emails into my Notion to allow me to keep track of various workflows. I pay for the premium version for extra storage, but the free version is also plenty capable. Best of all, it’s (obviously) accessible from anywhere, so I can tweak it or reference it from anywhere. At this point, the Notion app is basically my brain and I would be adrift without it.