Not long ago the idea of working from anywhere was just that – an idea. With the advent of mobile devices, apps and Wi-Fi it’s now a reality. But staying productive while you’re on the go, that’s still a bit of a challenge.
Maximizing productivity is ONE Thing everyone strives for, but few have mastered. In the first installment of this three-part series on productive work environments, we gave you tips for getting the most out of your home office. In the second installment, we will help you overcome productivity setbacks with easy solutions for the problems faced when you’re working on the go.
Limited Access to Files and Documents
It’s happened to just about everyone. You hit the road or board the plane only to realize that you’ve forgotten an essential document or forgot to download files onto your laptop. If you’ve already adopted cloud technology, you know that this problem is a thing of the past.
Storing your business assets on the cloud may seem a little scary, but it’s actually very secure. And if you are still having misgivings about going CPU-less, there’s always Google Docs and Dropbox. Instead of having files and documents stored on a specific machine, cloud storage makes everything available on any device no matter where you are. All you need is a secure Internet connection.
Less Than Secure Wi-Fi Connections
That brings us to another big issue. Today you’ll find an abundance of Wi-Fi networks to connect to while you’re out of the office. The problem is many connections are far from secure.
Hackers prey on Wi-Fi connections in particular because they know people let their guard down. The best bet is to use the Wi-Fi connection from your mobile phone provider if possible. These networks have limited access and tend to be more secure.
If there are any doubts about the security of a Wi-Fi connection refrain from using it. Even if you are careful about using websites that require a login, hackers can still obtain very sensitive information that you’ve entered in the past – including credit card numbers, passwords, names, and telephone numbers.
No Internet Access
Even though most airports, hotels and even buses have Wi-Fi these days, there’s still a chance you’ll find yourself stuck in transit without the ability to work. The fix is to cue up work in advance.
Before leaving home or the office get at least an hour or two of work prepped on your laptop or tablet. Even if you do end up having Wi-Fi access this will help you save a little time and keep you focused.
Toting Your Mobile Office Around
One of the common complaints that arises among business travelers is the difficulty they have with keeping everything organized when on the go. The solution is fairly low-tech – a practical case with lots of compartments.
Bags with one or two large compartments are going to get messy very quickly. You end up rummaging around trying to find a pen while cords become entangled and your laptop gets a new scratch across the top. Cases that have enough space to snuggly fit your laptop and/or tablet and a variety of compartments along the inside and outside are going to save you a lot of time and aggravation. They’ll also make you look super put together during meetings.
Holding a Meeting While You’re on the Road
Just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean you have miss out on important meetings. As long as you have a smart phone you can easily have face-to-face discussions with people back at the office.
Skype is one of the most popular apps for video chatting, but today it’s far from your only option. The key to successful, productive virtual meetings is to plan ahead. Before you get on the road, figure out the software or app you are going to use to conference in and make sure that you – and the people on the other end – know how to use it. You’ll also need to find a quiet space that’s free of distractions that can pull your attention away from the meeting. Another issue to look out for is areas with spotty reception that will cause the video and audio to drop out.
Not Everyone Has the Same Apps
The scenario above is a perfect example of another problem. Let’s say you planned on having a meeting via Skype. You’re a pro at using it so you didn’t do a test run before the big call. Unfortunately, you found out the hard way that the party on the other end doesn’t have the program. Before the meeting even starts you’re falling behind because people can’t connect.
The same holds true for project management, collaborative and organization apps. Before you head out of the office, ensure everyone has and can access the programs they need so that you can be an effective road warrior.
Getting Distracted During Downtime
Working on the go inherently comes with a lot of distractions that derail productivity. It’s easy to let downtime during the workday go to waste when Sky Mall is right there in front of you before takeoff. Plan ahead by packing reading material that’s industry related. It may not be actual work, but at least it will be productive.
Another issue is noise. When there’s a lot going on around you it can be extremely difficult to focus. Noise-cancelling headphones aren’t always the most fashionable accessory, but they are great way to phase out all the distracting noise of a public area.
Juggling All of Your Travel Arrangements
On top of everything else in a normal workday, when you’re on the road you also have to juggle all of your travel arrangements. It’s a source of stress that can get you off your game before you even leave town.
Keeping track of all of your ticket information, hotel details and car rental reservations is easy with the right app. TripIt is one of the most highly rated apps that’s specifically designed to keep all of your travel information organized and easily accessible. Your calendar can also be a backup solution. Along with the dates and times, include essential details like flight numbers and addresses as well.
Falling Behind on Your Busy Work
No one likes the feeling of falling behind, and when you are on the road, it’s easy to feel like the smaller tasks rounding out your responsibilities have to take a backseat. Delegating those assignments while you’re on the road is one solution. Another is to use keyboard shortcuts and pre-written scripts to cut down on the time it takes to write emails, notes and documents.
Apple products make it super simple with their Shortcuts app. TypeIt4Me is a third party text expander for Mac products that also makes typing much quicker and easier. PC users can create custom shortcuts for apps and programs in Windows 10 as well.
This is a trick used by frequent traveler and Entrepreneur contributor Jason Womack. He’s established over 15,000 abbreviations that can be used for phrases, sentences or even entire emails. For example, one of his keyboard shortcuts is “sig”, which enters your entire signature to the end of an email.
How do you stay productive while working on the road? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook! Tune in later this week for the final post in this series, where we’ll give you useful tools to be your most productive self in the office.