We’re busy people. From personal obligations, to career-related commitments, to travel plans, there’s always something we’re working on. And more often than not, we’re doing those things while on the move. Whether you’ve been bit by the wanderlust bug and can’t stop packing your bags for the next adventure, or just someone who craves the openness of a work-from-home type of schedule, knowing how to work effectively when you’re on the road or remote is so essential.
From first glance, it may look like remote work is easy, but don’t be fooled. When you’re working for yourself or from home, you need to have strict discipline to stay on task and complete projects and assignments on time. You also have to stay productive, even when you’re enjoying your current destination or makeshift office.
Since I started my professional writing career, I’ve been working remotely. I’ve worked from my room, my makeshift living room office, my previous apartment’s pool deck, and from a myriad of coffee shops, airplane window seats, and tables around the world. I started off working for a large online publication, and now work fully for myself and as a freelancer, so I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
Whether you prefer a coffee shop or cabana, the comfort of your bed or a hotel room desk, it’s easy to work remotely and get work done on the road—you just have to know how to do it. Here are the best tips for holding yourself accountable and getting your stuff done—wherever you are.
1. Identify your working style.
First and foremost, to get work done on the road you need to know what type of worker you are. Are you someone who enjoys community? Do you work well with and around others? Even (and especially) if you’re working remotely, you might crave a social atmosphere to combat the independence (or even loneliness) you may face. Or, if you crave solitude or find that you are more effective when you’re in a quiet space, then tap into that. Intentionally aside time in your schedule to accommodate for your working style before you even think about where you’ll be.
2. Find your ‘place.’
As silly as it sounds, there are places I get work done, and places I just can’t. (And honestly, sometimes this depends on the day, too) You’ll figure out what fits you as you when you need to meet a deadline or goal. Do you prefer something quiet with minimal sound? Perhaps find a coffee shop that’s on the smaller side. Are you someone who enjoys the busyness and buzz of a crowded space? Consider a bar or brewery, for example.
Finding your ‘place’ means finding not only the way you work best (see #1), but who or what you work best around. Once you figure that out, you’ll be able to focus on your content rather than get distracted.
3. Be practical.
For working remotely you need: WiFi/internet connection, outlet/portable charging port and perhaps some type of seating or desk area. These are non-negotiables, so as attractive as it sounds to work on the beach, consider what you need to do to prepare beforehand, i.e. fully-charged laptop, portable charger, towel to sit on, etc.
Also consider your internet situation. Again, the beach sounds great, but is there WiFi? Or, can you connect to your phone’s mobile hotspot? Sometimes there are amazing locations, but they might not be conducive to work. Make sure you plan and prepare before you head out and end up getting nothing done.
*Bonus Tip: If you know you’re going to be in an area without internet, set aside some tasks that don’t require it, like editing/drafting writing, for example. You can always sync and add changes later when you have connection.
4. Figure out your internet situation.
Okay, so I touched on this a bit in the last tip, but it’s too important to not address again. If you’re working remotely, you need to have a reliable internet connection. Here is what I suggest and use quite often when I don’t have WiFi:
Mobile hotspot connection from your phone: This is basically something you can tap into from your phone plan. You use the internet from your cell service to link your computer to the cell’s network.
Upside: Great connection anywhere your phone gets connection, especially if you’re already paying for it/it’s included! Downside: Can be pricey to add to a phone plan, can be limited, and only works where your phone works.
5. Have your data backed up and with you.
I can’t tell you how valuable this is. Not only is it important to have all your data with you when you’re working remotely, but having it in a way that won’t slow your computer down is so valuable.
I purchased this backup drive about two years ago. It’s great because I can host all my photos/videos on here, and then have access to them anytime (without slowing down processing or running out of storage space). I would highly recommend!
I’d also suggest carrying a notebook, just so that you aren’t stuck using electronics when ideas come.
6. Be flexible (and mindful) of time zones.
When you’re working on the go, knowing the time zones (and differences as you travel between them) is a must. This is important not only for deadlines, but for communication and scheduling appointments. You’ll also want to be flexible. Just because you’re in one time zone doesn’t mean that others are, or need to cater to the times that work for you.
7. Have fun and work hard.
Take advantage of your remote schedule and have fun! But also be prepared to work hard. Because you’re basically your own boss, you’ll need to keep track of your deadlines, schedules, appointments, and time on task.
However, having a flexible schedule means you have the freedom and space to enjoy your time. Want to get up early and work before everyone else’s day starts? Have at it. Want to attend an event at night? Then work during the day. Want to take a day off and work all night? Do it. You have the ability to mold your work to your needs, just don’t forget that the only one who will make you better is you.