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Summary:

Last week, I wrote about dealing with the typical home office distractions like loud neighbors, household chores, family members and more by using a few techniques: music, embracing the chaos, and relocation. This week, I’m dealing with a different type of distraction. While I work out […]

Photo by Tomás Fano

Photo by Tomás Fano

Last week, I wrote about dealing with the typical home office distractions like loud neighbors, household chores, family members and more by using a few techniques: music, embracing the chaos, and relocation. This week, I’m dealing with a different type of distraction. While I work out of my home most of the time, as a consultant I occasionally need to travel to client sites. For example I’m spending this week in New Jersey providing training and advice about online communities to a new client. And for me, travel is always accompanied by a different set of distractions.

Already, sitting here in my hotel room, I’m struggling to concentrate on blogging. The room is freezing; I’m using my laptop for heat while the room warms up to a civilized temperature. Earlier, I was distracted by the need to head to the lobby for snack food after my healthy dinner salad just wasn’t quite filling my need to munch. I’m also feeling the time pinch. With a day of travel and several days of client meetings, I will still need to find time to keep up with email, other client work, blog posts and more — and somehow get some sleep.

I have a few coping strategies.

Get ahead on your work before you leave. I spent some time this weekend getting a jump-start on my work, and I also typically try to use the time on the plane to catch up on email or write blog posts. Today I had the best intentions of doing work on the plane, but my need for sleep won out, so here I am writing blog posts in my hotel room.

Leave the TV off in the evenings and use the time to work. I’m not a big fan of television, but sometimes I tend to turn it on in hotel rooms even when I don’t really want to watch it. I also find that once I turn it on, it tends to stay on, so the best way for me to focus is to leave it off entirely or at least wait until my work is done.

Squeeze in a little extra work whenever you can. You can catch up on email before breakfast, at lunch and during other downtime to avoid at least some overload when you get back to the room for the evening.

Have fun and get some exercise! We can’t work really long days without a break if we want to maintain our sanity. Walk to dinner, run the stairs or use the hotel gym facilities to get the blood pumping and reduce that sluggish travel feeling.

How do you cope with travel distractions and stay productive during your business travels?

  1. I found that investing in an air card from my cell phone service provider so that I’m not restricted to working from areas with WiFi has greatly increased my productivity while on the go. WiFi hotspots are usually crowded, loud, and full of distractions. With an air card, I can find a quiet corner to and as long as there’s cell phone service in the spot, I’m good to go.

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  2. I’m right there with you on getting ahead before you leave. The same holds true for heading off on vacations! I try to schedule some blog posts to drip in if I know I’m not going to have much computer access.

    Luckily with our webtop you can access your necessary files and documents from anywhere – even your client’s location! If you have some downtime before meetings or presentations you can easily hop on any desktop and get some work done. It’s a lot easier than hauling your laptop everywhere.

    I also like Andrew’s idea of going somewhere outside the hotel – although my local Starbucks is probably colder than any hotel room!

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  3. I second the recommendation of having a backup cell-based internet connection. It has saved me many times when I need to send files to a client and can’t find anywhere with stable wireless.

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  4. Prepare well is a must, apply gtd to that. If you are in a different city, take the time to have a look around, rather than go to the gym. You may just see some inspiration. It also gives good talking points with clients, same as reading their local news.
    If you constantly travel invest in a data connection, rather than Starbucks.

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