One of the many challenges of my travels in 2017-2018 was balancing work while trying to sightsee. During that year, I was fortunate to avoid the office commute, but there were obvious logistical, productivity and motivational hurdles I faced.
I grappled with landing in an exciting new place (so much to do and see!) and then rushing to my next virtual meeting or getting deadlines completed.
After traveling and working for a year, I learned a lot. Here’s how I made it work.
Scheduled blocks of work time, based on my location
I scheduled blocks of time for work in my calendar and tweaked 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 tried to get the majority of work done before noon. This means it’s still only 9 am in the West Coast, so people are just reaching the office and getting settled.
If there were projects pending approval or responses from others, I gave it a few hours and checked in later in the day, usually around 3-4pm. I responded to emails, Slack messages and wrapped up any work for the day.
I loathe checking emails all day on my phone, but when I traveled, I made sure to check in from time to time so I didn’t miss 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 got up early
I’m an early riser, so even if it’s a struggle, I tried to wake up at 5:30 am, 6 am at the latest, no matter where I was in the world.
The first few days were rough because of jet lag, but I learned that you can sort of hack it with your meals. The trick is to eat your meals at the local time — even if you’re not hungry. This will help reset your body’s circadian rhythm and get you adjusted faster.
I found that no matter what, getting up early was never a bad thing. My most productive hours are between the hours of 6 am-10 am, so I avoid all distractions, except for making breakfast and sipping on coffee.
I scheduled meetings back to back. This helped with the flow of work.
Then, around noon, I’d take off to see the nearest park, museum, etc. If I had a meeting in between, I’d pop over to a coffee shop and take it there. If it was a meeting I wasn’t leading, I’d just take the call on my phone.
Planned ahead and had an itinerary ready
I use Evernote and synced it with my phone/computer. I’m not a crazy planner, but I did always 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.
A big time saver was to have my list of things to do and see done, ahead of time. I love the Google Trips app.
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 used it as a 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.