How I Maximize Productivity While I Travel

Dan and I on the first tee at Bethpage Black outside of NYC – one of the most famous golf courses in the US.

After a few months in Portland working on conferences, buying a house, and getting engaged – I’ve definitely been overdue for some time on the road!

This week I’m in NYC to do a little work, play some golf, and have a good time. (And praying I don’t have a repeat of what happened last time I was in New York).

Between everything I have going on here, and all of the WDS planning that’s been happening back home, the balance between enjoying my time on the east coast, while still being productive is a fine line.

To be honest, over the last couple weeks, I’ve been operating at a higher stress level than usual due to a cool new aspect of the World Domination Summit that I’ve been spearheading.

Because of this, I knew that I was going to have to be even more on top of stuff than I usually am while on the road.

But how do you do this?

If you’re used to working at an office week in and week out, as soon as you get on a plane and head out of your element, everything can fall apart.

So if you’re serious about this whole location rebel thing, you’ve gotta learn to get stuff accomplished from wherever you are.

And how do you do that? Glad you asked. In this post we’re going to talk about the specific things I personally do in order to keep my business thriving even when I’m moving around.

Set Time for Yourself

This is probably the most important one for me. When you’re traveling, you’re probably with other people or visiting other people you know – so your natural inclination is to spend as much time with them as you can – right?

Wrong.

I just got to New York last night, and it’s 11am. I’m sitting in a coffee shop by myself.

When you have friends around you, naturally you’ll end up talking and being less productive than you would be if you were on your own. Because there’s a good chance you only have a limited window with which to work, you need to make sure you use this time wisely, and doing it on your own without social distractions is the best way to do that.

Can’t get away? Put in headphones. It will minimize the “dude check out this You Tube video!” moments and let them know you’re serious about getting stuff done.

Know Exactly When Your Work Hours Are

Today I’m working from 10-2. I’m still on West Coast time and my flight got in late, so I couldn’t get myself to wake up any earlier…

I’m a big fan of the hard deadline – so at 2 I’m going out to meet a friend I haven’t seen in awhile. This forces me to get my work done in the time allotted.  If you don’t know exactly when you’re working it’s easy to schedule other things, waste time at your computer, and end up spending more time “working” than you really need to.

Every day of your trip you should know before you go to bed exactly what your hours are for the next day. You’ll get to work faster, and get more done in the time you have.

Prioritize Correctly

When I’m at home I’ll have days with nothing on the calendar, and I’ll often stretch 3 hours worth of work into 10 hours or more.

On the road, I don’t have that luxury – at least not if I want to actually enjoy my travels!

So understanding which things have to get done, rather than which things you’d like to get done is important.

This is how I normally structure my work days to make sure the hard or annoying stuff doesn’t get put off.

On the road, this usually means writing needs to come first, otherwise it’ll inevitably get pushed off and never get done.

Schedule Everything

Often my traditional logic when traveling is “schedule nothing!” Have an adventure and see where it all takes you. However this only works when I don’t have pressing things I need to get done.

So on this trip for instance, scheduling my work time, my leisure time, my happy hours, my meetings for every hour of the day etc. helps me make sure nothing gets missed, and I get to enjoy my time here.

Cal Newport wrote last year about the importance of scheduling every minute of your day. While I’m not as good at this during my day to day life, on weeks like this, I’ve found it to be essential.

Ditch Your Work

This is really hard to do, but when you’re on the road and mixing business with pleasure – do your best to ditch your work once you head out to explore or be social. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself. I’m here in NYC for a reason, I’ve set aside hours to get the essentials done, and if I let unfinished tasks or things that are out of my control hang over my head, it’ll put a damper on the trip.

You can always schedule a time later in the day to check back in, but do your best to compartmentalize your day to day work and everything else.

Generic Advice?

Reading back through this post, it kind of seems like a super generic post on productivity and time management (Schedule your day! Prioritize!).

But honestly, this is the process I go through every time I travel.

  1. When Can I Schedule Time to Work By Myself?
  2. What Has to Get Done?
  3. What Does the Rest of My Day Look Like, and How Does Work Fit In?

So while it may seem generic, it’s also what has allowed me to live this type of lifestyle successfully.

A Quick Thanks

A quick thank you to everyone who showed up to our NYC meetup last night at Swift! It was fantastic to meet so many readers and Location Rebel members, and it’s pretty cool to see all the different ways people are getting benefits out of the community.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to upstate New York to knock of a couple more Top 100 Public Golf Courses, pretty excited to see a new part of the country.

Scott Asai June 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Makes complete sense. Scheduling office hours is smart. I’m going to do that the next time I visit my in-laws.

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Carl Bolland June 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Great post Sean!

As someone who is looking to travel and work soon, this has been really helpful! Advice is generic for a reason – It works. I’m still yet to prioritise work hours but that’s because I love to work. I’m currently using the Pomorodo technique which has proved extremely helpful.

Enjoy NYC and the Golf!

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Sheralyn June 15, 2014 at 7:46 pm

I am such a fan of schedules and routine – I hope that applying that to the things I want to accomplish once we leave in July will help me to maximize my productivity on the road – great post!

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Adrian Landsberg June 16, 2014 at 3:01 am

So right Sean, I just got back from 6 months of travel overseas and it is so easy to let things slide when you don’t have a routine.

Plan, schedule and do it! That was my motto for getting my work done while trying to enjoy travel as well.

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Dave June 19, 2014 at 6:47 am

This is also good advice for how to get stuff done on your side project when you also have a full time job.

So, what did you shoot on Bethpage Black?

Cheers,
Dave

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Sean June 22, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Shot a 91 with a 9 on the 4th hole ha

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Tom June 20, 2014 at 1:37 am

I wish I had this information before my last trip!

Travelling and working was so difficult for me – far more than I ever imagined – especially when you do creative work.

‘Schedule everything’ was definitely the secret sauce that I did at home but not when travelling. Another thing that anyone doing this needs to be careful of, especially when staying in hostels, is exercising a bit of discipline so that you DON’T get distracted by people telling you to blow off your work to go and hang out

I still had an amazing two-week trip, but work and travel can be tricky.

Thanks for posting!

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Erika Volk June 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Great insights! It is hard to stop working when you are a solo entrepreneur. I am still working on taking care of what is important and then ditching work. Short days make me feel guilty, but then again I choose this lifestyle so that I would have more life and less busywork.

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Sergio Sala June 23, 2014 at 6:14 am

You are always writing what I need to hear, bro!

As I’m traveling also in NYC and then Portland, with friends, tourist stuff and world cup matches it gets difficult to be productive! But I like the idea of setting a daily hour of working, so whatever I do, I need to work on that hours, true that!

Thanks and it was awesome to meet you on NY! I’ll write a email now. (I’m the mexican guy, remember?)

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