Working While Traveling: How to Be More Productive

One of the hardest things for me to accomplish when I travel is getting work done. When you travel, you are off your schedule, and you may not have access to your regular work environment. There are distractions all around, and you might not have access to the Internet.

Even though working while traveling can present its own challenges, there are ways to get around it. Here are some of the things I find help me get more done when I’m away from home:

Make a Pen and Paper List

One of the things I do is make a pen and paper list of what needs to be done. This is useful if I can’t access my mobile device. Sometimes, I don’t go completely low tech, though. If I will be able to work on my laptop, I make a list in a Word document. If I know that I will need online research, I try to do it ahead of time, copying what I need into a Word doc and making sure I have the right citations. That way, I can work even without the Internet.

Brainstorming ideas for work, and gathering the research you need ahead of time, can ensure that you have everything you need to keep working during layovers, flights, and long stretches of time in the car.

Avoid In-Flight Wi-Fi

Now that many airplanes are equipped with Wi-Fi, it’s tempting to connect and use the Internet, even while you’re cruising at 30,000 feet. Think twice. Not only can Wi-Fi be expensive, but it can also destroy some of your productivity. I’m shocked at what I can accomplish without the distraction of email, social media, and just the ability to surf the Web. In fact, just gathering research can be a distraction since it’s so easy to go off on a tangent.

Instead, get what you need ahead of time, and then just bang out what you need to do without the Internet. I’m writing this on my way to Houston in an airplane. And it’s going great, because I’m eschewing the $8 Wi-Fi. I can load up all the posts I write when I get to the hotel and have Internet access.

Do As Much As You Can When You Have “Down Time”

When you’re traveling, the time you should be on the beach or sight-seeing is your “up time.” The waiting in airports, driving long distances, or flying in the plane constitute “down time.” Do what you can in your down time. I spend much of my flight working because it’s a chunk of time that I know is available to me. Who knows what will happen when I’m on the ground?

This concept is very similar to working during your peak productivity hours. Pick a time to work while you are in transit, and do as much as you can. For short periods of time (as when I had 40 minutes before boarding a flight), I answer emails and do small tasks. During the flight, I get to work on the longer stuff. If you are prone to distraction, put on some headphones, listen to “work music.” This will help keep you focused.

With a little planning, and with the determination to do what you can when you have the time, it’s possible to get as much done as possible while you travel.

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.