Running a business while traveling means everything around you is constantly changing. New apartments, languages, coffee shops, time zones and friend groups to name a few. Despite the constant change, in order to maintain this lifestyle one thing must remain constant: work.
So, how does one stay focused and consistent when everything else is in flux?
I’ve yet to find ‘The Answer’ but I’ve picked up on a few tips to keep myself making progress regardless of my environment.
1. Plan for the AM
Taking my business on the road for the first time, I found that I would often start working later than I had gotten used to. I’d still wake up around the same times, but my ‘commute’ to wherever I was doing work for the day would take significantly longer. So, instead of sitting down to work at 9, it was becoming 9:30.. 10.. or even later. I’m usually most productive first thing in the morning and so this was seriously effecting my output.
Something had to change.
I realized that I was wasting valuable time in the mornings when I woke up figuring out what I would do for breakfast and where I would start work for the day.
Would I go to and eat at a coffee shop? Which one? Is there a Regis Business Lounge near me? Do I have food to eat for breakfast wherever I’m staying?
To remedy this, I started making concrete plans the evening before for what I would eat and where I would go first thing in the morning. This made a huge difference.
Eat an apple, and yogurt in the apartment and pack a banana that I bought from the bodega. Go to Regis Lounge on Lafayette St.
Head to the coffee shop down the street and work and get food there.
Eat the groceries I bought for breakfast and do work on the kitchen table before my first call.
Going to sleep with a clear action plan for the morning decreased down time significantly and has gotten me on track earlier.
2. List what you will accomplish each day
When in new places, it is easy to get caught up with the novelty of everything around you and become side tracked. Depending on where you are, different experiences are constantly calling for your time.
The beach is around the corner.. this is my favorite neighborhood to take pictures.. I wonder where that street leads..
Again, in the interest in maintaing a business it is crucial that you are able to stay focused. To accomplish this, keep a list of the things that you will get done each day.
Send out proposal. Follow up with X on Y and Z. One hour of analysis for each account. Post job description for another writer.
Stick to the list regardless of the time it takes you to complete. Sometimes that might mean that you don’t finish until 9 in the evening. Other times, you will finish your list at 3 and can indulge in whatever the city you happen to be in offers.
The important thing is to have a list that will keep you organized no matter where you are. For my list, I like to use Evernote which make it easy to add and edit from my phone as well as my computer.
3. Create boundaries
After first arriving in a new city or country, you’ll often find yourself with a pretty empty schedule. You’re in a new place, probably don’t know that many people and probably without many obligations. You’d think this would give you plenty of opportunity to crunch work and get things done. However, lack of structure can be paralyzing and counter intuitively make it difficult to get anything accomplished. The problem is that without boundaries it’s hard to feel any sort of urgency with what you are working on.
I have all day to upload the post, I’ll just do it later.. I’ll read another article now and open up Skype once I’m finished.. I DO have all day to get it done, what’s another half-hour..
It is in these situations that it takes you 2 hours to finish writing a report opposed to the 30 minutes that it took you when you had to manage it in between other things on your schedule.
To create that sense of urgency in your days, it is important to set up some sort of structure.
Schedule calls. Set up meetings. Attend local events.
By giving yourself boundaries that you must work within, you force yourself to buckle down during the time that you have and not perpetually put things off until later.
Following these tactics has enabled me to stay productive and on track, despite constant changes in my environment. It’s definitely a work-in-progress, but I’m encouraged by the improvements that I’ve experienced.
Do you use a similar approach to stay focused? Have any other tips that you think would help? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!