One of the many challenges of traveling include working. I’m fortunate that I never need to be in an office, but there are obvious logistical, productivity and motivational hurdles to get over when you’ve just landed in an exciting new place but also have deadlines and meetings looming.
After traveling and working, I’ve learned a thing or two. Here’s how I travel and work.
Schedule blocks of work time, based on my location
I schedule blocks of time for work in my Google calendar, and tweak it according to the time zone of the place I’m visiting.
For example, if I’m visiting the East Coast, which is three hours ahead of my clients’ time, I try to get the majority of work done before noon. This means it’s still only 9am in the West Coast, so people are just reaching the office and getting settled.
If there are projects pending approval or responses from others, I give it a few hours and check in later in the day, usually around 3-4pm. I respond to emails, Slack messages and wrap up any work for the day.
I’m not a big fan of checking emails all day on my phone, but when I travel, I make sure to check in from time to time so I’m not missing anything.
Here’s an article I wrote about how to get more done at work. I generally apply most of these principles to get as much done, during the day.
I get up early
I’m an early riser, so even if it’s a struggle, I try to wake up at 5:30am, 6am at the latest, no matter where I am in the world. The first few days will be rough because of jet lag, but a hack to help quickly solve this problem is to eat your meals in the local time — even if you’re not all that hungry. This will help reset your body’s circadian rhythm and get you adjusted faster.
The farthest I’ve traveled this year was Ireland, and I adjusted to the time in about three days. I still have Australia and New Zealand in Dec. and Jan., so we’ll see how long it takes for me to adjust.
I find that no matter what, getting up early is never a bad thing. My most productive hours are between the hours of 6am-10am, so knowing this, I avoid all distractions, except for making breakfast and sipping on coffee.
I try to schedule meetings back to back, if possible. This helps me with the flow of work.
Then, around noon, I’ll take off to see the nearest park, museum, etc. If I have a meeting in between, I’ll pop over to a coffee shop and take it there, or if it’s a meeting I’m not leading and don’t have to take notes, I’ll just take the call while I’m walking somewhere.
Plan ahead and have an itinerary ready
I use Evernote and sync it with my phone/computer. I’m not a crazy planner, but I do need to have a list of things ready (with addresses and a general plan for transportation of how to get there) in order to not waste time, since my time outside will be limited.
A big time saver is to have my list of things to do and see done, ahead of time. A big hack for this is to ask your network of friends and family if they have any recommendations for a city you’re visiting. I used to rely heavily on Yelp or Trip Advisor, but much of it is hit or miss. Those resources are great for finding out where the hot spots/high-traffic touristy areas are.
A client of mine had lived in Australia for years, and was happy to share a giant list of what to do, see and eat, so I saved that list and used it as guide to plan my trip. Another friend of mine lived in New Orleans for college, so she also sent me an extensive list of what to do and see.
Before leaving, I map out exactly where I’m going so I don’t waste any time. I look at options for public transportation and then Google how to get tickets (i.e. does the bus accept cash, or tickets only).