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March 20, 2018 By Jen Mathews

5 Ways to Stay Productive While Traveling

March 20, 2018

By Jen Mathews

Read More from Jen Mathews

March 20, 2018

5 Ways to Stay Productive While Traveling

By Jen Mathews
Senior Public Relations Manager

One of the best things about being a freelancer or solopreneur is that you can work from anywhere in the world (a tropical beach comes to mind…). And digital nomads are proving that there is a sweet spot between business and leisure travel.

But whether you’re a globe-trotting digital nomad or a small business CEO trying to grow your business, travel can be a disruption. Not only do you lose valuable hours while traveling, you need time to adjust to a new environment, and maybe even new time zones.

Try these tips to make the most of your travels and stay productive.

1. Do a little advance recon

WiFi is so ubiquitous, we expect to have internet access anywhere, any time. Surprise! Some hotels and coffee shops are still operating in the 20th century. Plus, a reliable and safe high-speed connection is never guaranteed. If you’ve ever tried using WiFi at airports, you know exactly what I mean.

Here’s what you can do instead of resigning yourself to turning your smartphone into a make-shift tiny-screen computer:

  • Read the fine print about the hotel’s WiFi before you book. “WiFi access” could mean you can only get it in the lobby. Great for people watching but not so great for focusing.
  • Scout out coffee shops and cafes near the places you’ll be visiting for meetings etc. Plan to add time before or after the meetings to catch up on your laptop or tablet.
  • Check to see if you can tether your laptop to your cell phone for a hotspot. If you’re overseas, local options may be cheaper than an international data pass from your carrier, and just as convenient. In France, for example, you can rent a “pocket WiFi” for a very low price.

2. Plan for the unexpected.

Your cellphone is probably your lifeline while you’re traveling (who are you kidding, it’s always your lifeline!). So imagine your panic when your battery dies while you’re out and about, because you forgot to bring the charger, didn’t stop by the hotel as planned to recharge, or perhaps played Temple Run too many times while waiting for your latte at the airport….

Plan for those unexpected moments.

  • Backup documents you’ll need to the cloud, including your slide deck, in case you have to use a borrowed computer.
  • Know how to access your work email via the web.
  • Use a password management tool, such as LastPass, to keep all your passwords and even secure notes or credit card information stored on the cloud and accessible from any computer or mobile device.
  • Bring a hard copy of that report you want to read while traveling.
  • Invest in a battery phone case or a “power bank” and keep it fully charged just in case you run in to the unexpected low battery.

3. Take advantage of the downtime.

Staying productive doesn’t always require you to be “connected.” If you forget download your shared presentation from the cloud or the Google doc you wanted to work on and you find yourself without internet access, switch gears.

This is the perfect time to do one of those things that require a quiet mind but you never have time for — like mulling over a problem, strategizing a growth opportunity or reflecting on a finished project. Carry a small notebook with you so you can jot down ideas and notes so you don’t even need a computer to keep showing work who’s boss.

4. Break your day up in to ‘weird windows of time.’

David Allen, the bestselling author of “Getting Things Done” and other books, called “weird windows of time” those sporadic, usually short and often unplanned, blocks of time that you can use to sneak in some work.

It’s those 10 minutes that fall into your lap when someone is late for a meeting or perhaps the barista is taking a little too long. Instead of being annoyed, use this gift of time to clean out some “read later” emails or Pocket articles that are piling up, make some quick updates to your Trello workflow, or jot down a short to do list for the rest of the day — you get the idea.

5. Keep a balance.

Unexpected downtime aside, you need actual “free” time in your daily itinerary. Since you don’t require a desk to get work done — and your team is only a quick conference call away — it’s easy to get on a roll and forget to stop.

You need some true downtime to recharge and clear your mind. Go hang out with the locals at the neighborhood bar, dine at a popular restaurant, play tourist or simply stream some Netflix in your hotel room. Take a mental break and have some fun!

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