This summer I will have been on the road for about 7 weeks total. From our time traveling through Japan to our volunteering experience in Ecuador, Aaron and I have learned to work productively while we’re away from our usual space.
One of the benefits to working remotely is that it allows for flexibility of location. Freedom of location is something many of us desire– and yet, productivity can be elusive.
Some friends have asked me how I keep up with posting, emails, and even social media while I’m traveling. The truth is, it takes quite a bit of effort, but it’s definitely doable.
If you want to work while while away from home, you’ll have to throw out any preconceived notions of bronzy, attractive people lounging with their margaritas and laptops at the beach. Instead, you need to start practicing discipline– and finding a good rhythm so that neither your work nor your travels will suffer too much.
How to Work from Anywhere and Still Be Productive
1) Feed your brain and rest your body.
On the road, our bodies and minds are already under more stress than usual. Changes in time zone, diet, and schedule can take a toll on our productivity.
Keep yourself hydrated, well-fed, and well-rested when you’re trying to get work done. It will do wonders for your focus and creativity.
2) Turn off notifications, ads, and apps.
This is a good rule-of-thumb for productivity in general, but especially when you’re not at home. Those emails, Facebook notifications, and smartphone apps can distract us at any time.
If I have to use my computer, I open up my work in a brand new window and hide everything else. If I need to look out for an email or text, I will set regular intervals of time during which I check those; otherwise, the only windows open are what I need to attend to immediately.
But if ads are attractive to you and you need to do research on the Internet, then I strongly suggest installing it. You can always pause it if you want to see the ads on your favorite blogs.
3) Evaluate company versus solitude.
Some people work better in the presence of friends or strangers; others work better completely alone. Figure out what you need, and stick with it. This may mean drawing boundaries when you are visiting friends.
I’ve rarely had success working in a coffeeshop, but I love working at libraries; my husband is the opposite. Finding your ideal work environment can be key to great productivity on the road. The familiar setting will help your mind get into gear.
4) Create an achievable task list and tackle one item at a time.
Plan, plan, plan. This is the most crucial time to make check lists, schedule times, and waver as little as possible.
When I make lists for my work, I usually start with the biggest and most urgent tasks. These are the ones I tackle first. Smaller tasks can be attended to during unexpected free time, or when you’re a bit tired. The items at the bottom of your list are the best ones to neglect after a busy day of travel.
5) Choose your most productive time of day and be consistent.
Luckily for me, I tend to be productive in the evening, when most travel activity is over. I rarely stay out late when I travel, so I’ll usually work after dinner.
However, knowing your most productive time of day– and sticking to it like routine– can foster a consistent level of efficiency. We are creatures of habit, so we must build habits that are most advantageous for us.
6) Plan ahead for when you need Internet.
The availability of Internet can vary, and we need to be okay with that (or purchase an expensive data plan). If you absolutely need the Internet– or perhaps lighting for photos, or other time-sensitive things– plan ahead.
There’s no need to throw a fit because Internet is not available. Planning is the best you can do.
7) Manage expectations for your work, travel, and relationships.
If you intend to work while you travel, be sure to integrate that into your expectations for the journey. It’s best to tell anyone that you are visiting (or traveling with) that you’re going to need to set time aside. Be intentional about spending time with those people, too.
Manage your own expectations by choosing the most important things that you want to see or do while on the road. There may not be time for everything you want to see, but at least you’re not stuck at home or the office!
When our expectations are appropriate, we can dedicate our time to work without resentment or distraction.
8) Take a break by stepping away fully.
This is the best part about working while on the road: there are so many options when it’s time to take a break!
So instead of surfing the web, scrolling through your phone, or watching TV, take advantage of your current location. Enjoy it– and let it further inspire your work.
The reality of working on the road…
… is that it requires major compromise. It is certainly a privilege not to be chained to a particular desk or space, but it is also restrictive to have to work while traveling.
Before you find a good rhythm on the road, your work can suffer. And when you’re hard at work on the road, your adventure can suffer too.
The idea of working remotely is attractive, but consider the amount of discipline you need in order to do it well– and then decide whether it’s a good choice for you.