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5 Productivity Tips and 5 Productivity Failures While Traveling

The last few weeks has seen me doing more traveling than I normally do for my day job and holidays. The trips were somewhat unexpected and with the increased online workload of bringing a small group of beta testers through a done for you expired domain service I have been extra busy.

This post is going to talk about a few things I have done to try and be as productive as possible while traveling and several of the problems I am having. There are far more experienced travelers than me and hopefully if you are one of them you can drop some of your best tips in the comments below.

My Travel Bag Set Up - No Wheels

My Travel Bag Set Up – No Wheels

5 Tips to Stay Productive While Traveling

1. Plan Your Work Ahead
While traveling there is a lot of hurry up and wait. In order to be productive I have a list of tasks to complete and the length of time each should take. This way when I have a 15 minute cab ride I can knock something out. The key to the list for me is writing down the task, what device it can occur on (IPad, Phone, Computer) and the next action. This list strategy is adapted from David Allen’s Getting Things Done System.

2. Leverage VA’s
Using my VA’s during this time period is critical. They tend to get a little extra responsibility when I am away from my normal hub. For example they will publish posts without waiting for me to do a final review and I let go of a few other hold/approve points in my normal procedures.

3. Traveling Technology Trifecta
I am not a technology nut but my set up for Travelling is pretty solid. IPad 1, IPhone 4 and a very un-sexy Acer Laptop all synced together with Google Docs, Evernote and Dropbox means I can work on any device.
At home I rarely write on my IPad but the instant on/off and easy to grab nature makes it perfect to craft the outline of a post/strategy in a 10 minute window.
Using Evernote and DropBox means I can access work I did on any device including my home desktop set up.

4. Move quickly through an airport (don’t check bags and take a cab)
There isn’t much I can do about how long it takes to fly or drive somewhere but the real time saving opportunity is moving quickly through any travel hub.
an oldy but a goody…checking bags is a huge time sink and potential lost bag hassle. By avoiding checking bags I figure I save 10-20 minutes each flight but more than that I eliminate the risk of a lost bag and the productivity hit that would cause. Plus whenever possible I avoid renting a car and take a cab, it saves time taking a shuttle to a rental place, waiting in line, getting out of the garage and also gives some more time to work in the cab.

5. Entertaining/Educational/Inspirational Material
Having podcasts, audiobooks and videos ready to go on my IPad and IPhone means even if I am not going to knock out some work I have the opportunity to put something useful into my brain. Otherwise I would end up reading whatever was in the back of the seat (sky mall magazine) or play Risk/Settlers of Catan on my IPad.

computer set up while traveling

Work Computer – My Computer – IPad – IPhone – TOO MUCH!

5 Travel Failures – Do You Have Any Suggestions?

To those experienced travelers among us…do you have any tips on how I can solve these 5 problems I still have?

1. Take care of myself (eat/sleep/exercise)
Maybe I have trained myself that when I am away I don’t need to worry about the amount food, booze, sleep or exercise I get/don’t get. I think this mindset is a result of my travel over the last 10 years being vacations . It’s not quite as bad as it sounds I still eat ok and am active but I definitely have more beer than normal, sleep less and eat more(especially on trips to Texas!). It’s likely for these reasons that I often find myself a little run down and sometimes sick when I get home and as a result the productivity hit of the trip keeps impacting me even after the trip is over. Even worse on my last trip I had a little cold and ended up getting my little guy sick….first time experiencing that and I felt like crap! He wasn’t too sick and is 100% great now.

2. Schedule posts
Even though I know the trip is coming I have failed to plan ahead enough to have a post ready to go. Last week I got it out on Wed instead of Monday after a week of Travelling and Canadian Thanksgiving. This week I am writing this post in the boarding area (and now in the Cab) on Sunday night.

3. Internet Connection
This one is embarrassing! I have a growing online business and I am not connected! I live in Canada with some of the worst phone contracts in the world. As a result a week in the US to keep my phone connected would cost $100-$200 (crazy). I know there has to be a better option but for now I struggle through it by connecting to wifi at hot spots and in my hotel. This is a substantial pain for my phone mostly since I am not able to respond to important email in a timely manner. The majority if my business can run with daily check ins.

4. Focus
Some people seem to thrive off white noise and a busy environment (see all the people in StartBucks). I am not one of them, it is tough to pull my eyes away from the football game playing in the background. Music and noise canceling headphones helps keep me in the zone but I still struggle to stay as focus as I would be in my home office.

5. Duel Screen Withdrawl
There are a number of tasks I do in my business that are much mores efficient with 2 screens (finding domains, reviewing my teams progress etc). Not having that second screen can be tough. I brought an HDMI cable on this trip to try and set up duel screens with the hotel TV.

Your Turn…

So there you have it, 5 things I have been doing right to be more productive on the road and 5 things I still need some work on/help with.

For those experienced travelers in the group let us know your favorite travel tips. Or, if anyone has any ideas on how I could improve on my 5 travel productivity pain points let me know.

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

Phil says October 21, 2013

Hey Jon,

Thanks for summing up all these, I think the most important thing is to plan ahead. The biggest failure in my eyes is the missing internet, but sometimes you can’t do anything about it.

    Jon says October 21, 2013

    Hey Phil – Luckily I was able to get wifi during the day so now with hotel wifi and daytime wifi I am pretty connected. The downside is the hotel wifi is $10/device/day! So only my laptop and work laptop are connected.

Don Shelton says October 21, 2013

I can help on a few:
1) Unless you travel a lot, I wouldn’t worry too much about the diet and exercise unless you’re really going off the deep end. On getting sick, that’s always a problem when travelling for me, and the best answer so far is Zicam. Start using the oral mist once or twice a day several days before you travel (even if you aren’t sick yet) and keep it up during the trip and for several days afterwards. For me it stops about 70% of travel colds at the first sniffles, and the other 30% are much less severe.
2) Good time for a guest post, or a V.A. post.
3) Freedompop, or a pre-paid data bucket. The buckets (usually Sprint resellers) are typically 2-5 gigs at around $15/gig. If it’s mostly email, that should work. Not so good for Netflix, though. Tether/jailbreak/root if necessary.
4) Sounds like you’re doing all that you can do. There’s seldom a way to be as productive and focused when travelling. Having the VA’s step up, and focusing on only the most essential things are about it. On the other hand travelling can enhance creativity – new sites, foods, people seem to let my brain go into a new mode. Instead of trying to make everything exactly the way it would be at home, allow the different scenery to give you time to contemplate and problem solve.
5) Can’t help much there. The Galaxy S4 can actually do split screen windows; I don’t know if any Android tablets have that native yet, but there are apps:

Like you I used to travel with phone, tablet and netbook. When I traveled last month I got brave and left the netbook at home. It seemed like the tablet (Android) was ready to handle everything, and it did. Of the few things I can’t do on a tablet, I’m able to use PhonemyPC or similar and just do it remotely (but very clunky). I survived just fine on tablet alone – of course being an Android tablet I can pop SD cards and USB devices into it so have a few advantages over iPads. Travel mouse and keyboard, cover with a stand and I’m good to go. Using Docs for most things seems to be OK as long as I’ve got internet. When Google gets Docs to work seamlessly on or off line, then I’m set to be tablet only for good I think.

    Jon says October 21, 2013

    Don, GREAT TIPS!

    The Guest Posts is something I have been approached about but haven’t wanted to do just yet – definitely a great option to relieve the busyness!

    #4 – new places/food/experiences bring different ways of looking at problems – well said! definitely has had me reconsider my work schedule this week and instead of just trying to knock out work why not put in some time on the bigger problems and see if like you said new scenery etc brings a new approach.

    Interesting approach to the split screen problem – will take a look!

    Tablet only – I am not there yet…very brave of you!

    Thanks for so much useful information – I knew there were travel pro’s in the mix that would have some awesome insights!

Josh Escusa says October 21, 2013

If you’re squeezing 15 minutes to do work during your cab ride, then that’s pretty diligent, haha! Planning ahead is the key point that you mentioned. Having those podcasts ready, setting up scheduled posts, giving more responsibility to your VA… those are all great things!

Honestly, the one thing I could see that you might need is a good break. Maybe you purposefully left that out because you felt it was unimportant to the article, but I think a relaxing break actually improves productivity. Sometimes, the mind is like a computer… if you don’t turn it off once and a while, it starts to slow down 😀

    Jon says October 21, 2013

    Break? what are those – no I am kidding a balanced life in all aspects is important. At the tail end of my trip I am meeting my wife/baby in Chicago for a few days of vacation….so no break until then.
    Thanks for the comment Josh!

Joe says October 21, 2013

Great list. Could the tablet be used like a computer with a keyboard attachment?

These resistance bands are good for getting a in a workout while away from home:

Other than that a body weight workout in your room could work, I think Nerd Fitness has an app?

Good luck!

    Jon says October 21, 2013

    Maybe the tablet could be…but even going from my more powerful, duel screen desktop to my laptop feels like a productivity hit so I am not ready for the step to only tablet. Good tip and value added link placement 😉 for the resistance bands!

Al Johnson says October 21, 2013

What the heck? Are you trying to be successful or something? On the beer thing, you could drink a bit more at home so it wouldn’t seem like more when you travel. grin

    Jon says October 21, 2013

    hahaha – best tip yet – more beer/food while at home so it won’t be a big difference while travelling! Genius

Ryan Cote says October 21, 2013

I think VAs are key Jon. If you’ve got a good team with clear instructions, they can help offset some of your lost productivity while traveling.

    Jon says October 21, 2013

    Yah big time Ryan – without VA’s things would definitely come to a grinding halt!

Bryan Zimmerman says October 22, 2013

Hi Jon,
Good stuff here. I am with you on the dual screen withdrawal. There are different apps out there that will help you with that I think. I am going to be trying some myself, even in the home office. Here is a good start to a few:

    Jon says October 31, 2013

    Thanks for sharing those tips!

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