I’m on the road for two weeks with family - not a business trip but not totally a vacation - and am having a tough time getting into a groove so I can actually get some work done - including blogging here. The time zones are mixing me up, I’m forgetting what day it is, I’m having a heck of a time finding a consistent Internet connection, and all my organizational tactics seem useless when I’m not sitting at my home office.
Because I’ll be traveling for another week and a half, I’m trying to find solutions to my work-from-the-road challenge. If I were traveling on business, I’d have everything I needed to stay organized including a constant wifi connection because any hotel that hosts conferences is wired and a set schedule of meetings or events that I could use to know what day it is and estimate time to keep track of when I can do my own work.
We’re staying on the cheap at Motel 6 and while they now offer wireless Internet access for $2.99 a day through an individual access card that you need to purchase each day, the service doesn’t reach my motel room. I’ve been sitting in the tiny laundry room the last few days to get online and at the moment am blogging from the motel office lobby sitting on a chair they provided me because there really isn’t a seating area here.
So I’m greeting folks as they come get their morning cup of free coffee or hearing their conversations as they check out of their rooms. Not extremely conducive to getting work done but the best I can do at 7:30am while the rest of the family is still sleeping.
Here are the solutions I’ve come up with so far for handling work while on the road and not on a business trip:
1. Identify wifi hotspots. The first thing I did when I could finally get online was to access JWire’s pretty extensive directory of wifi hotspots.
2. Pay for wifi as needed. Luckily I can write off Internet access as a business expense. Check with your accountant to make sure you can, too, and how to do this. I’ve been paying for wifi access cards at Motel 6 only as needed. I also invested in 8 accesses to AT&T’s wifi service ($50) that is offered at most Starbucks across the country. If there is anything you can find anywhere you go in the U.S., it is likely to be a Starbucks with AT&T wifi including the ones in Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide.
3. Set alarms. I use my mobile phone’s calendar to set reminder alarms but also use 30Boxes as my online calendaring system. 30Boxes has an SMS or text messaging feature and will automatically send a reminder to my phone as well. I use reminders extensively at home but haven’t been as organized setting them up from the road. Spending some time setting reminders after this blog post to keep me on track.
4. Set aside time and space. I find myself waking up before the rest of the family so using this early block of time to work makes sense as long as I have a place to do my work without disturbing them. For now, the solution is the Motel 6 office lobby.
How do you handle keep up with work deadlines and communications while you’re on the road? I’m always open to suggestions and solutions!