I’ve been out of the office for the last week, working remotely while on a visit to Colorado (I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’m not here for that). I had prepared to work for a large portion of my time while here, but I discovered that staying productive on the road is more difficult than I’d expected. So, I’ve enlisted the help of the Post Modern Marketing crew to get some tips and tools to work better and more efficiently while away from the office.
Before you embark on your trip, looking for the ideal environment to sleep and work in is very important. I’ve been utilizing Airbnb instead of hotels. I highly recommend this method of travel, as it is more affordable and helps you become more connected with the city you’re staying in. However, on the last leg I learned the hard way that you should thoroughly check ahead of time to make sure your host provides the necessities – particularly a desk or table space, and a decent internet connection. Take the time to call ahead before booking your stay and talk to the owner/hotel associate/property manager of wherever you’re staying to make sure you can get what you need.
Additionally, if you’re staying any length of time in a city, check out what coworking space options exist near you. If you’ve got family members or other distractions in your room, this might be a great option. For a small fee – anywhere from $10-$30 a day – you can set up all day in an office environment with all the amenities you’d expect in an office environment, with the added benefits of new opportunities for networking!
Often, the biggest challenge to staying productive while traveling is motivation. We usually travel for events, tourism, and experience. All these things are more “fun” than sitting down and doing actual work.
I asked our team for some motivational tips on how to stay on task while you’re traveling. Here’s what they had to offer.
Let’s admit it. You’re not usually traveling with the express purpose to work remotely. So, be honest with yourself and enjoy your trip. Set aside a schedule for your travels, and in that, make time for productive work. But how do you ensure you’re actually productive during that time?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method used to keep yourself productive during a set aside block of work time. Essentially, you set a timer (usually for 25 minutes) where you work on a task without interruption. During that time, if a distraction comes up, you write it down and then continue your task. After the set time, you have a break (10-15 minutes) and then reset the timer and resume your task. Emily suggests using Tomato Timer to manage this.
The Carrot Method is exactly what you’d assume – dangle a carrot in front of yourself to motivate you to complete a task. “I’m not going to get to view this attraction, this show, or do this thing until I’ve taken care of this project.” Set goals and reward yourself on your travels – extrinsic motivation is a very effective way to get desired outcomes.
John added, “But any of these approaches, or really any sort of structure you impose, requires discipline.”
There are so many great tools out there to help you stay productive and work while you’re on the road, and there’s no way we can cover them all. However, here are some that we personally use to stay on task and communicate more effectively.
Asana is a project management tool that allows a team to communicate on a per-task basis. You can break down projects to various tasks, make notes, attach files, and communicate with every team member assigned to the project in one central location. If you’re the organized type, we highly recommend it.
Slack is one of my new favorite tools. It’s an online chat program that you can install on your computer or phone. Similar to Asana, you can set up channels on a per-project or per-subject level, and manage discussions with your team regardless of where you are. It makes conversations more organized and more accessible for team members in multiple locations.
Using a cloud-based file manager is essential to our entire work process, whether or not we’re traveling. Having access to your (and your team’s) files, regardless of location, is very valuable. Every time you edit a document, your changes will automatically save to a secure cloud-based location. This helps with version control, and more importantly, provides safe backups in case your laptop gets damaged or stolen on your travels. Using Dropbox has saved my life (and hours of work) on more than one occasion.
I don’t know why this didn’t dawn on me earlier, but I was recently reminded of it. Using your email in offline mode is a pretty useful when traveling. If you’re on a flight, or anywhere without access to the internet, you can still spend time writing and replying to emails, and then send them you regain your internet connection. This makes that travel time much more productive. Outlook or Gmail Offline are great ways to manage this.