Be Productive During Air Travel

An interesting article from a recent blog on Almost This has been a struggle for me all summer.  You show up in Paris, and you can either sit down with your laptop or explore the Latin Quarter.  Guess who wins?  If you’re trying to balance travel and work (for me, writing) you might find it harder than you thought.  Pre-trip, I imagined cranking out thousands of words per day while sipping espresso in a cafe.  In reality, I found myself sitting on the floor in the hotel lobby, trying to squeeze out 500 words before catching my next flight.  It took me a while to come up with a system, but here are some of the tips for working on the fly.

1.  Know yourself.
You don’t have time to be unproductive, so don’t try to force your work habits into someone else’s ideal.  For me, that means working late at night.  My husband, is a morning a person and in bed by midnight.  It’s not unusual for me to work until 3 in the morning, because this is my most productive time.  If you find yourself slogging through work and easily distracted, try cutting those hours out and focusing on the times when working comes easily.

2.  Use travel time for easy tasks. Part of my work as a writer is to read.  I read blogs, travel magazines, books on writing, travel memoirs, anything I can devour that will either a)  tune me into current travel trends or b) help my writing by exposing me to the good stuff.  I use those countless hours flying, driving, ferrying or just waiting when you travel to catch up on as much reading as possible.  I will even download articles to my laptop for reading when I’m offline.  If you’re just sitting there, chances are you can work on something (even if it’s writing to-do lists).

3.  Use your days between trips to catch up (or get ahead).
I tried to schedule a few days or a week between trips, just so I could spend full days working.  After failing at this a few times, the incentive to not spending the next trip worrying about how far behind you are, is an amazing motivator to get serious on your days off.

4.  Give yourself a break. I didn’t write about it here, because I was too beat.  But in Croatia I was just worn out.  I couldn’t write my name of if you beat it out of me.  So I took 1 day off.  I sat in a cafe all day and did nothing people watch and read my book.  I went to bed early.  I so needed this break, but up until I crashed, I was pushing so hard that I was barely productive.  When you’re body needs rest, don’t fight it.  You’ll be twice as productive after a good day off, you won’t actually lose any traction.

5.  Cut out the things you can. I would love to spend more time promoting my work or commenting on the smart, funny or amazing things my colleagues write.  I will get back to it, but when you’re on the road, there simply isn’t time for everything.

6.  Create systems.
Figure out ways to minimize your time doing any specific task.  Check email once a day, or keep a notebook with your for ideas, or track your tasks in a spreadsheet or only write while off-line (eliminates distractions).  Everyone has their own ways of working, but find those that work best for you and stick to them.

7.  Be organized. Nothing will waste time faster than trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do.  I keep my inbox clean of clutter, have specific folders for projects and even a naming convention for my photos.  It’s a pain to always put things where they belong, but a blessing when you don’t have spend 10 minutes searching your hard drive for that photo you took last week.


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