If you are like most digital nomads, your primary client base is still based in your country of origin. For me personally, my clients were primarily in the United States.
As I spent a year traveling around the world, I had to adapt and adjust my sleep and work schedule multiple times to be able to take meetings with clients.
My goal with this post is to give you some pointers on how to handle those time zone changes and some idea of what you can expect with a work schedule based in different parts of the world.
So the first rule is to try to avoid them as much as possible. You won't be able to avoid them completely, but try to handle as much communication as you can through email or video messaging.
Often I would record screen capture videos showing my clients updates on my work and asking for their feedback. This allowed me to communicate with them in more detail than an email allows, but without the hassle of a phone or videoconferencing call.
From noon-7 p.m. I would head out and enjoy whatever city or country I was in at the time. This was an incredible schedule because it allowed me to experience so much during the day and then focus on doing my work at night.
Around 8 p.m. I would sit down to my desk and start my work for the day. Thailand and Vietnam are 12 hours opposite of the United States CST, so it made calculating time zones easy. An 8 p.m. call for me was an 8 a.m. call for CST.
I would aim to schedule a majority of my phone calls during my clients’ mornings. If I was able to get in everything before noon CST, then I would be done with phone calls by midnight. My goal most nights was to be done working by 1 a.m. and then give myself an hour to wind down before going to bed at 2 a.m.
This schedule worked most of the time, but occasionally I had a West Coast client with an inflexible schedule. A few times I had to take meetings at 4or 5 a.m. Thailand time. I will admit, this totally sucked and threw off my sleep schedule.
If I was in a position to turn down those calls it would have been nice, but sometimes I did what I had to do to make the sale.
In Europe I would generally wake up at 9-10 a.m.,and then head out to explore the city.
I tried to schedule most of my meetings for the afternoon in the States so that I could sit down and start working around 7 p.m. in Europe. I would then work from around 7 p.m. until midnight and then wind down and be in bed by 1 a.m.
Time zones were a piece of cake there. I just kept with my normal schedule that I always have.
If you don’t want to deal with the time zone changes, then try adventuring to Mexico, Central America or South America. You will still be on the same time zone as your USA based clients.
But there are a few tricks you can use to try and minimize this.
1) If you type into Google, "What time is it in _____?", it will show you what time it is in your client’s location.
2) Get a world clock on your phone. Apple's built-in clock has a world clock feature that can set up different clocks for different time zones. This makes it easy to check the time in your client’s location.
3) ALWAYS use calendar invites. Create an event on your calendar for what you believe will be the proper time and send an invitation to your client. It doesn't matter if you think you have calculated it correctly, always use an invite.
“Why?”, you ask.
First of all, you will screw up your mental calculation from time to time.
And second, daylight saving time. Believe it or not, most of the world does not honor this tradition, even some states in the USA don't. Because of this, in Mexico, where I was once on the same time zone as my clients, I was bumped an hour off because of daylight saving time.
Don't risk it. Send a calendar invite so you are on the same page with your client.
While you are out exploring foreign countries during the day, you don't have to worry about missing any client calls or emails because your clients aren't even awake yet.
While the occasional stickler client will screw up your sleep schedule, it is a small price to pay for the freedom of the digital nomad lifestyle.
Posted by Jake JorgovanLinkedIn Twitter Website