How to remote work from Bali as a digital nomad

This is Part 1 of my 3-part series covering my month in Bali with PACK.

My month in Bali with PACK recently wrapped up, and this – more or less – is the most common exchange I've been having post-trip:

  • "How was your holiday in Bali?"

  • "It was great! I was working too, but it was a nice working holiday."

  • "You were working? How did you get anything done in Bali?"

Hehe good question.

How to remote work from Bali as a digital nomad

My short answer is this: time-blocking.

But if you’re an up-and-coming digital nomad yourself, you’ll probably want more details and strategies than that. 😉

Because yes, it's totally possible to take what would normally be a vacation and make it a working holiday – so that you're earning income while traveling. 

It sounds like a pipe dream, but after 3 years of living that location independent, digital nomad life – all while growing a larger, more sustainable business – I know it's true.

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Here are my top five tips on how I effectively worked remotely from Bali as a full-time digital nomad, all while achieving a record-breaking sales month in my business AND a shout-out in Forbes (not gonna lie - still jazzed about this one). 

1. Block your calendar for work and play

What is calendar blocking, exactly? 

It’s when a Google calendar or a planner dictates what you should be doing in each hour of your day. 

While I’m not thaaaat militant about it, when I’m working abroad, I do like to block my days with times where I need to get certain tasks done.

For example:

  • writing an email

  • taking a coaching call with a client

  • designing my next InstaGrowth Boss campaign

  • coordinating projects with my contractors

  • writing blog posts (like now!)

  • pitching myself or taking an interview. etc)

  • times when I’m free to play

To get shit done when it comes to tasks and projects, the method I started to seriously implement into my business each day is Megan Minn’s brilliant system with Google Calendar.

You can watch her demo it here

When it comes to play, normally my schedule would look something like this: 

6am to 10am: WORK

11am to 4pm: PLAY

7pm to 10pm: WORK

But in Bali, there were A LOT of options for play.

And some of them required extensive planning (none of which I did but because I traveled with an awesome PACK of people who took those reigns. I pretty much just showed up when I was supposed to). 

So I actually had to be strategic about which activities I’d make room for in my day. 

Plus, I came to find out that the afternoons in Bali would typically get rained out. Maybe for an hour. Maybe for 3. 

So in reality, the best time to play in Bali was first thing in the morning. 

From about 7am to 2pm, we could safely bet that our day would be sunny, hot and humid – perfect conditions for that double-tap-worthy Instagram shot. 

BUT there was a wrinkle in this logic for me. 

Since I was in a timezone that was 13 hours ahead of most of my clients and customers, what ended up happening is I’d be asleep when my inbox was blowing up with emails. 

Waking up at 7am and seeing a bunch of unread stuff I missed throughout the night actually stressed me out.

My instinct was to start working first thing in the morning until about noon, which then left me a smaller window of time for sunny activities. 

So some days I worked from the morning until the afternoon. And others, I woke up at the crack of dawn and headed out for the day to see the sights. 

It was a balance between the two.

It wasn’t perfect.

And sometimes I had serious FOMO when I skipped out on some activities.

But even while working abroad from beautiful Bali, my #1 priority was my business. 

I knew that I wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for my business so I always made sure the machine was running smoothly before I took a day or two off. 

2. Use scheduling tools that transcend timezones

Working from Bali meant that I was 13 hours head of my regular timezone. 

Meanwhile, I had clients and customers in various timezones themselves. 

So staying organized with a scheduling tool that could keep up was paramount. 

Luckily, I had these systems in place to handle the timezone-hopping. 

Google Calendar kept all my appointments and meetings in one place - and easily switched between timezones when I moved countries or had to look at time options for a client in another timezone. 

Satori allowed me to open up my coaching calendar to times that suited me in Bali - which turned out to be first thing in the morning or late in the evening.

The great thing about Satori is my clients have their own login so they were able to reschedule their appointments without having to coordinate directly with me.

Satori is a paid app specifically for coaches, but if you just need a simple scheduling tool, I’d recommend Calendly or Acuity

3. Have the right tech accessories

“Travel light.”

It goes without fail; I pack for a long trip and bring way more things than I actually need. 

This time, I strategized each piece of clothing, each piece of tech, and all my carrying devices too. 

Here’s what I ended up bringing and loving: 

Lo & Sons backpack for my laptop and travel stuff

Backup charger for my phone

An external hard drive (cuz I have 60 GBs of media just from my 4 weeks in Bali)

Cloud backup (Dropbox and iCloud)

4. Don’t leave home without a SIM card, wifi access and a backup plan

One of my favourite things about traveling with PACK?

All the little details that were taken care of. 

After a 30-hour trip to get there, my brain was exhausted and fried.

I was ready to face-plant onto my bed (in my amazing villa) and there was Michele, the founder of PACK, greeting me with a fresh coconut to sip on, a local SIM card, my membership card to Outpost, and a custom-made leather bracelet. 

An unlocked phone and a local SIM card is now a must for any of my travels.

Let's be real: being able to stay connected to my inbox while sharing my adventures in my Insta-Stories is super fun.

When I needed to upload all my photo files to Dropbox or hold a video call, I’d head over to Outpost, my co-working spot for the month, for the fastest wifi connection. 

Then when my iPhone’s screen started to become non-responsive right at the start of the trip, and my photos started to slowly disappear from my phone, I knew I was in good hands with my Dropbox and iCloud backups of my files. 

5. Learn when to say “no” and accept the FOMO

A month in Bali sounded like a long time.

But once I got there, and realized my days during the week were mostly dedicated to work, I had to accept that I’d be missing out on most activities planned for during the week.

Like: the Campuhan Ridge Walk, a day trip to see waterfalls, or the Lempuyang Temple. 

SoI had to get strategic about my weekends!

While I spent my weekdays in Ubud, on weekends, I got to see Canguu, Nusa Penida and Uluwatu. 

So while I had to say “no” to some activities, I also knew that I had to make the most of my weekends by heading out and exploring other sights in Bali. 

And in the end? Totally #worthit.

Up next: Part 2 of my 3-part series covering my month in Bali with PACK.

Click HERE to read why I believe a retreat is a game-changer for any digital nomad (aspiring, new or seasoned). 


Who would’ve thunk it?

I’m headed to Bali for my next digital nomad retreat in February 2019, and I want YOU to come with me - but hurry!

I have a limited amount of spots and all that’s included is too good to miss out on!

Elise Darma

About the Author:

Elise Darmanin believes that "travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." That's why she makes beaches, coffee shops and co-working spaces her office by working remotely while growing Canupy Content. Canupy is a social media and copywriting agency for small to medium-sized businesses. The Canupy team helps brands grow through social media marketing, copywriting and content strategies that inspire audiences and drive sales.