Working while on the road can be both engaging and exhausting. It’s easy to lose track of time and not be able to meet deadlines or get the work done on time. It can be a challenge when you’re not in your routine or have a steady grip on your schedule.
Let’s also not forget the fact that, while traveling, you should also take advantage of and explore your new surroundings. It would be a total waste if you didn’t take this opportunity to meet new people, experience diverse cultures, or marvel at a different landscape. You’d only be left with a less than optimal way of working.
No matter the industry, you should always find ways to juggle both work and leisure in these sorts of situations. The concept of work-life balance, or better yet, work-life integration come to mind. Unlike work-life balance, where the emphasis is placed on the separation between work and leisure, work-life integration is about the flexibility and the intertwining of the two.
So, how can you apply it when working while traveling? Below are some tips that will help you mix the two without becoming overwhelmed.
Work in Advance
The best possible way of working while you travel is by doing as much as you can in advance. For many of us, however, this can prove easier said than done. Even in the most productive of days, you won’t be able to accomplish too much above what you already have scheduled. It’s for this reason why you should plan and try to knock off one or two projects before you go.
These will provide you with a cushion that can accommodate for any unforeseen circumstances. An extra hour in traffic or a plane delay can kickstart a chain reaction that will throw your entire plan into disarray. On the other hand, if everything goes without a hitch, you’ll have some additional time on your hands to use as you please. You can take some much-needed sleep, workout, or go out exploring. Whatever the case, doing a bit of work in advance will have its benefits.
When Handling Emails
Replying to emails will be a sizable chunk of working on the road. And if you’re not able to stay on top of them as you would in the office, the chances are that they will pile up. When tackling the inbox, you should take some deliberate 15 or 20-minute breaks to catch up.
You should also answer different types of emails at various times throughout the day. For instance, you can work on more straightforward emails in the evenings, and leave the harder ones for the morning, when you’re fresh.
To further optimize this process, it’s best that you start with the newest emails and work your way backward. There’s a reasonable probability that some of the latest emails will only be follow-ups to older ones. Answering the one on top will deal with multiple others at the bottom. When you open an email, make a habit of responding on the spot. If it needs more time, mark it as unread and add it to your to-do list.
It’s also a good idea to download your emails on your computer before boarding an airplane, so you can handle them in-flight. If there’s no WiFi, you can still handle them offline and have them sent when you connect.
The Out-Of-Office Message
When traveling and working on the road, we usually tend to use the out-of-office message to make our job slightly more relaxed. But as it so happens, the automated OOO reply rarely works as it should. Most people still expect a response from you, or you reply to them, regardless of whether you have this message in place or not.
So, it’s probably better that, when you’re traveling to a well-connected place to stop using the OOO reply, altogether. Without it, you’ll be more incentivized to respond more quickly and clear your inbox, also helping with your overall workflow and mental load.
The Hotel Room
It’s in times like these that you may feel tempted to settle down in your hotel room to do your work. But in doing so, you will miss out on an excellent opportunity for some great networking.
Don’t forget why you’re there, in the first place, and make a habit of connecting with acquaintances, industry leaders, or make the most of your time there. Attend networking events and happy hour. Who knows, forming new connections in a different city may prove to provide other possibilities and opportunities down the line.
That said, you shouldn’t ignore the luxury of privacy either. While on the road, privacy is something that’s in rather short supply. Take the time to do your work, preferably at the start of the day, while for extra motivation, you can treat yourself to some room service.
The Right Tools
There’s probably nothing more frustrating than having internet connectivity issues. A lot of time can go by trying to fix it – time that you’re not getting back. You should always plan for such events or similar circumstances, and have the right tools and gadgets with you whenever you travel.
A mobile hotspot is usually a great option when you’re working while traveling, as you never know what kind of internet connection you’ll have at your destination. Also, a necessary item to have while traveling is batteries. Other mobile phone and laptop batteries will help out when you’re on the go, or when there’s a sudden power outage at your hotel. Just make sure they are powered up. If you’re traveling abroad, adapters will come in handy as most other countries have different sockets than those in the United States.
A set of headphones are also useful, particularly in times when you want to plow through emails on a tight schedule. Also, cable shorteners will prevent you from always having to untangle cables in your pack.
Pack Your Food
Another simple and useful advice is to pack food. If you’re running from meeting to meeting, the chances are that there’ll be very little time to grab a bite to eat. Packing a couple of sandwiches can be a life-saver in these situations.
Hopefully, these examples here will be of use to you on your next business trip. And whatever you do, don’t forget to take the opportunity to enjoy yourself, meet new people, and take in the local culture.