Keep Productive Away From Home

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?

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