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It was only after four days that the feelings of responsibility and guilt began setting in. I was halfway around the world, settling into life in Southeast Asia. It was a completely new reality. The culture was intoxicating and I was ready to learn more about this exotic world.
The purpose of the trip was simple: to travel, work, and live the Freedom Lifestyle to the fullest. As you might guess, this isn’t an easy task, but it’s doable.
You’ve been there, we all have. You finally break away from the day-to-day routine and get an opportunity to travel, work remotely, or just work from home for a couple days. Yet, your mind starts playing this constant internal tug-of-war. It becomes a battle of work vs. play.
Staying Productive: How Do you Balance Work and Play?
How do you stay productive when you’re outside of your normal environment and/or comfort zone? When traveling, you’re presented with limitless possibilities of how you can go about your day. You’re continuously dazzled by “the new”.
This Southeast Asia adventure lasted 97 days. During the adventure I had to experiment and try many different strategies to stay productive. It wasn’t easy, and I made plenty of mistakes. After all, I was both traveling and working on multiple business projects. I learned some big lessons and was even able to pull off a product launch at the tail end of the trip — but only after learning those lessons.
Travel shouldn’t prevent the work from getting done. My readers expect content, regardless of the environment I’m in. Your customers, clients, and/or readers expect the same.
After all, living a Freedom Lifestyle is all about being able to do what you want, when you want, how you want (and even with who you want). I sat down recently and brainstormed some strategies for working more productively, maintaining your rituals, and still having fun while traveling.
The Strategy: Simplify
Keep things simple. Every experience and situation is different. There is no one-size fits all solution. The main idea is to avoid doing what doesn’t work. Focus on the 80/20 of your business/work.
Simplify as much as possible. You will not have as much time as you’re used to.
The key is to focus on two areas: the highest revenue generating activities, and high lifetime value work.
6 Tips to Stay Productive While Traveling Without Feeling Guilty
These strategies are useful for solopreneurs when they’re traveling, visiting family/friends, or working in any new environment.
They’re also useful for everyday humans who might be working from home, working remotely, or traveling for business.
1. Don’t Set a Schedule
If you set a schedule, you’ll set yourself up for disappointment. Even if you’re traveling alone, it’s likely someone or something is going to pull you away from your work. Plus, you want to have that flexibility. That’s the whole point.
If you get pulled away, you’ll feel awful and guilty. The goal is to avoid this feeling as much as possible.
Instead, set constraints, which is what Dr. Seuss did. Or at least set minimum thresholds. You can decide on the number of hours you must “work” every single day. Hit that number, and you’re good.
Decide whether it’s best to work in the morning, afternoon, or evening. But whatever you do, hit that goal. For example, during my trip to Brazil for the World Cup I made a goal to spend at least 3 hours per day working.
2. Have an Accountability Partner
Have someone either work with you at the exact same times, or check in with you daily to make sure you’ve hit your target. This can be someone from your company, or a business partner. But you can also hire a friend for the job.
Discuss the plan in advance and tell them how important it is for the both of you to hit your daily goal for hours worked. If there’s no incentive for this person to hold you accountable (they won’t also be working), make it fun for them.
For each day you don’t hit your goals:
A) You give them a dollar. Each time you don’t hit your goal, the money owed doubles.
B) You have to donate money to a cause you are against. Note from Arman: I like this one 🙂
C) You have to donate money to a charity of their choice.
D) You have to do them a favor. Or they get to make you do something.
3. Work Anytime and Anywhere You Have Time
This is a key lesson I learned and shared in this video. You never know when there will be some downtime.
Be prepared, carry your gear everywhere, and always be willing to put in some work — even if it’s only ten minutes.
4. Work Offline
You can brainstorm, mind-map, write, plan, design, and do so many more activities offline.
Don’t prevent yourself from working just because you don’t have Wi-FI. You’ll find that working offline is quite fulfilling. You’ll have less distractions, and will do better work.
Carry a pen and moleskin notebook at all times. Use your devices in offline mode. You don’t have to be online to get real work done.
5. Have the Right Tools
Invest in the right tools to make working from anywhere as easy as possible. Whether it be a USB microphone, a good set of noise-cancelling headphones, or a travel adapter. Invest in the tools you need now. If you don’t, you may regret it.
Natalie Sisson, of Suitcase Entrepreneur, has a ton of content on this topic. Here’s a list of some travel tools to help you work from anywhere.
6. Work When Others Are Around
This isn’t conventional advice, I know.
If you wait until you have free time, or try to break free from your friends or travel group, you’ll never get anything done. That free time will never come. It’s hard to break away from the group.
So what’s a traveling solopreneur to do?
Work in front of them. Pop on your headphones, get in the zone, and get to work. If you do this a few times, you’ll get awesome results.
This works because the people around you will see that you are serious about your work. They’ll respect the time you’re putting in, and will make it easier for you to make time.
What tips or advice do you have for staying productive while working remotely? Are there any methods or tools you rely on?
Photo credit: Sunny Saturday on Ipanema Beach — CC License