One of the biggest advantages of working remotely - flexibility - is also one of the things that makes working on the road so difficult. Like many people, I love routine and am most productive when I can quickly get into the flow of creating. Airport lounges and unpredictable hours can make slipping into a working frame of mind a slower process, which equals less work done on the road.
Unfortunately, I live on the road right now. All of my work is done from a “remote” location and so I’m constantly adjusting to a new environment. However, some weeks require more flexibility than others, like when I’m on a short business trip or press tour. These trips are loaded with travel, meetings, tours, and very little downtime. The downtime I do have is usually spent at an airport gate or on an airplane, or in a hotel room after 9 o’clock at night. Of course, I have my laptop with me in these places and can almost always access the internet — so what’s the problem?
The reality is that I can almost never write in an airport and I have a very difficult time concentrating late in the evening. Afternoon “free time” between afternoon tours and group dinners is equally useless for me. I do my best work first thing in the morning and up until about 2pm. But, you know, life is about adjusting.
Over the last year I’ve had to accept that I will never get as much work done as I’d hoped during business trips. I may get caught up on my email, but I’m not going to do a lot of problem solving or creative thinking. I can plan to work during off hours, but I’ll only be setting myself up for failure and leave myself racing to meet deadlines when I return.
I’ve stopped trying to work on the road. Instead, I work like a crazy woman before my trips to get ahead on deadlines and schedule myself extra work time after the trip. I know a lot of people who are able to squeeze more productivity from their carry-on bags, but I’m just not one of them. The next best solution for me is to learn to work within my personal limitations.
Do you get a lot of work done on business trips? What adjustments have you made to accommodate your personal limitations?