How to be a DIGITAL SETTLER
Build a GLOBAL profile WITHOUT even PACKING a SUITCASE. Collective Hub’s editor shares her SECRETS to settled success.
You don’t need to go far to find freedom. This is the message of a new movement of ‘digital settlers’. The term, used by German blogger Niklas Göke, refers to someone who uses technology that enables them to work from anywhere – and chooses to stay close to home instead.
“My friends commend me for the high-degree-of-freedom life I’ve built,” writes Niklas. “I agree, it’s satisfying. Because just like I can relocate tomorrow, I’m free to go to the same café, sit at the same place, and do my work. Most of the happiness you gain from working for yourself comes from having a choice.”
Years ago, I wrote a book named Diary of a Digital Nomad: How to Run Away with Your Responsibilities. I documented my ‘workcation’ around South America, and how I used technology to make it possible. These days, as a new mum of two, I use the same tricks and tech I used as a working backpacker to build a global profile, while rarely leaving my postcode.
Want to be an ambitious homebody? Here’s how:
Even though there’s no luggage restriction on your life, don’t overload yourself. I still do 90 per cent of my work on my iPad with a bluetooth keyboard, rather than carrying a laptop. Avoiding a heavy backpack has a mental effect – instantly I feel freer and liberated. The downside of an iPad existence? Eye strain! I wear blue-blocker glasses from Baxter Blue to reduce the side-effects.
FIND A SECOND HOME
In a survey of work-from-homers by McCrindle, the most common downside is social isolation. The answer? Find a second home – a local café, co-working space or library where you feel creatively alive and socially supported. Choose somewhere with natural sunlight, visible greenery and just the right amount of ambient noise – a key ingredient for a productive environment, according to research.
PICK YOUR BATTLES
The most effective digital settlers are discerning about invites they accept. I’ll drive three hours for a six-minute television segment about my latest book, The World is a Nice Place, because of its sharing power. I won’t do the same for a networking meeting I can host on Zoom instead. Don’t feel guilty for suggesting a virtual alternative. Your associate might be grateful to stay at home, too.
FAKE A COMMUTE
Some of the best ideas come when you’re in a plane or on a train, forced to slow down and listen. Now that a commute isn’t necessary, manufacture that thinking space anyway. Take a scenic drive or go on an inessential walk while listening to a podcast or audio book. When the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, lived right near her office, she’d ‘fake a commute’ every day and drive aimlessly around Atlanta because it allowed her to get in some brainstorming time.
I edited this entire magazine remotely. Did you guess? Of course not! When I became editor of Collective Hub, my personal situation (living in Kiama with a newborn) meant commuting to the city was a no-no. I had faith my geographic location wouldn’t affect my commitment to the magazine, and it hasn’t. We send a lot of Slack messages! It also helps to have a boss who believes in you, too (thanks LM!).