I left Portland, Oregon in 2016 to test out my potential digital nomad physician lifestyle. I moved in with my friend from Oakland for a few months and managed to still make a solid income with nothing more than my laptop.
In 2017 I moved to Barcelona and did telemedicine work for my medical group and a few other companies. I was also doing some healthcare consulting work at the time.
It’s the end of 2019 and I want to write about my digital nomad physician routine. What a day is like in the life of a digital nomad physician.
I naturally, lazily wake up around 10am and pull out my phone, check emails, and listen an audio book I recently started. I rent them for free from the library.
In the mornings I like to listen to a more mellow book, though they are all non-fiction. Usually something about health and wellness. This helps me grow my medical health coaching brand.
I listen to the book for another hour and get up to brave my morning routine. Brushing teeth and showering and shaving.
There is great, cheap coffee here in Spain but I like to buy organic beans and use a manual grinder to grind them. It’s a nice wake up routine for me. And it’s free exercise.
I pull out my laptop and check email and WhatsApp messages. Apparently these are all of the things you shouldn’t as soon as you wake up.
Between 1-2 pm I get income-generating work done. If I do this early on in my day then I have less anxiety about money. This is something that I am still working on.
I will do only 1 hour of something. Usually I’ll answer questions on Just Answer. Or I’ll do research for a project for a particular client. Nothing too intensive.
Dedicating time to earning money is an important part of my digital nomad physician lifestyle. If I don’t focus on it, I’ll get anxious.
Here in Spain everyone eats dinner from 9-11 pm, so I don’t mind skipping breakfast. But if I’m starving then I’ll have some nuts and dates.
By now I will have showered and shaved and grab my bag with my laptop and notebooks and head to the library or a cafe.
From 2-5 pm I’m usually writing a ton. I answer questions on various online forums. I write for different websites, for my own websites, or write in my journal.
Somewhere here I get more consulting work done. I limit client work to 1-2 hours a day in total. Any more than that and I find that I get bored of it and disinterested.
By 4pm I head home and buy some produce. I plan what I’m going to make for lunch and dinner. If I’m very busy then I eat lunch in a cafe.
Here in Spain lunch is eaten around 2-4 pm and then the restaurants and cafes close until 8pm – at least their kitchens will close.
By now I’ll have had my lunch. I will maybe watch some YouTube videos or practice some Spanish on Duolingo or read a digital book on my Kindle.
I like to spend the evenings learning new things. Right now I’m working on software programming and machine learning.
I will then either head out for a 1-hr walk and listen to podcasts or head to the gym. If I got to the gym then I won’t be back home until 10 pm.
If I’m just going for a walk then I’ll come back home and do some more work. But towards the end of the day I’m not trying to stress myself out. The digital nomad physician lifestyle has to be as fun as it is structured.
This late in the day I don’t usually do any customer work, I might log back in and send a few replies on Just Answer. Usually I will take this time to record a podcast or write for my own websites.
By 9-10 pm I wind down and prepare dinner. Usually something vegan. I’ve been into potatoes recently. Fills me up well.
I’m usually in bed by this time. I will watch some YouTube videos or a movie. I like learning how to build something, make something, or improve on something I already know how to do – YouTube is great for that.
By 1 am I’m asleep.
My Daily Planner
I work on multiple projects simultaneously; something I wasn’t able to do when working full-time. Seriously, I felt like my brain was shrinking when I was just practicing Urgent Care medicine.
In 2016 I gave myself 10 years to figure out exactly what I wanted to dedicate myself to for the rest of my life. As in, figure out my encore career. So, no rush, I have 7 more years to figure it out.
I use a daily planner to keep track of everything. It’s a list of 30 things. It includes learning about Machine Learning, learning Spanish, applying for my medical license in Spain, growing my own telemedicine platform, my health coaching, and my healthcare consulting projects.
Putting a little effort into each of these lets me gauge my interest in it. For example, I don’t really enjoy Instagram but I’ve promised myself to test it out for a certain period of time before giving up on it.
I write everything in my daily planner and review it every few weeks. If I planned something out and didn’t follow through with it, I can see where I got stuck and address that.
Work and Productivity
With telemedicine I was able to earn $200k per year with 3-4 hours of work per day. Many doctors work full-time + their commute in order to earn this kind of money. And they didn’t have the benefit of the digital nomad physician lifestyle.
I don’t need to work 8-10 hours per day to be productive as a physician. In fact, I don’t have to see patients to be a productive in the healthcare space.
I’m also 41 years old. I worked my ass off in the urgent care and saw an average of 5 patients per hour for 10 years. It’s not sustainable to maintain that for the rest of my career.
I find that life is more enjoyable when you can build work around your daily routines. You have your exercise, your meal prepping, socializing, and learning.
My digital nomad physician lifestyle allows me to be productive and gives me flexibility. I can live wherever I want and set my own schedule.
Downsides to the Digital Nomad Physician Lifestyle
There are plenty of downsides. Primarily, you have to answer to yourself. So if you’re a dick, you’ll have one hell of a boss to deal with.
If you’re an entrepreneur, like myself, you have to make your own deals. Few will come to you in the beginning. Later on, others will reach out to you, and that makes it a little easier.
The income isn’t stable. Unless you’re only going to focus on doing telemedicine, it’s important to budget for the long-term.