Whether it’s working from home, working while traveling on business or working while traveling the world, staying on task is always a challenge. Superior time-management skills, adaptability, and flexibility are essential. However, it’s more than doable if you know how to prepare. Consider these seven tips to transform your approach to working outside the office.
1) Always Have A Back-Up Connection.
I can’t get anything done if I don’t have an Internet connection. That means having a reliable source for Internet that I can use when the airport’s Wi-Fi is too slow or the hotel’s Wi-Fi crashes yet again. Tethering your laptop to your phone is an option (depending on your plan and service), but if not, consider investing in a hotspot. It works the same way and decent models can be found on Amazon.com for under $150. Tip: when tethering, plug your phone directly into your laptop; the connection will be much faster than when connecting over Wi-Fi.
2) Have A Workspace.
No, your couch doesn’t count. Carve out an actual office in your home or sign up for a co-working space in your city. I’m currently living in a new city every month, and my first order of business when I arrive is researching coffee shops to work in or paying for a membership at a co-working space if I’m there long enough. One of my favorite resources for finding places to work from is nomadlist.com, where you can also connect with other digital nomads and read recent first-hand reviews (note: some site features require a membership). Sharedesk.com is another great resource for business travelers who need a desk (or office) for a few days.
3) Plan As Much As You Can.
This means planning for the months ahead, as well as the days ahead. For example, August and September are quite light work-wise for me, so I spent those months in Southeast Asia, where the time difference was significant but wouldn’t be as much of a hindrance. But for January and February, which are much busier, I chose a location in Europe with only a six-hour time difference so I could more easily adapt to my colleagues’ schedules. And since I tend to work better in the evening anyway, working six hours ahead works out beautifully for me.
4) Make More Of An Effort.
I’ve worked remotely for more than five years now. Most of that has been from a home office within the U.S., but my job has always required me to travel, and I am now permanently nomadic. I have found that in all of these situations, making a point to respond promptly to e-mails and send status updates (even when they seem slightly unnecessary) to bosses and colleagues can go a long way. I also made it a point to keep the same U.S. phone number to make it as easy as possible to contact me, even though that meant the extra expense of unlocking my phone and forwarding the number to Google Voice, verses just using WhatsApp or another third-party app.
5) Don’t Let Work Pile Up.
When you’re not working from an office, the freedom can feel exhilarating. What should I do today? Visit a museum? Take a three-hour martini lunch? Do all of these things, (maybe stick to one martini, though) but bookend them with more intense working sessions. Doing work when and where you choose is acceptable, but it’s a slippery slope to doing no work at all if you don’t plan to actually do the work.
6) Design Your Ideal Schedule.
This is perhaps the biggest perk of working remotely — hacking your daily schedule so it works best for your productivity. Here’s an example using my preferred schedule: I try to wake up around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. and check e-mails/put out any urgent fires while I have my coffee. I am NOT a morning person. This is not my ideal time to write, so I use the next few hours to do any necessary mindless tasks. Lunchtime and early afternoon is when I try to squeeze in some exercise and get outside, then, I’m at my best for real work in the afternoon and evening. I’ve done the things I needed to do; my mind is clear and energized, and usually, incoming e-mails are dwindling so I’m less distracted.
7) Manage Your Own Expectations.
This applies to those who are traveling abroad full-time and working remotely in vastly different time zones. Be prepared to pull an all-nighter or wake up at 3 a.m. for a call. Remember, working remotely while traveling is a privilege and that means scrapping plans because something work-related popped up. Expect it. Do it, and don’t complain.
Looking for more help in maximizing your time? Check out “These New Tools Will Increase Your Productivity And Lower Your Stress.”