No agonizing commute? No stringent dress code? That’s remote work life and if you’ve ever had to get down to business while you were at home or if you’re traveling, then you know it has its share of ups and downs. On the plus side, you can plan your own schedule, avoid office politics, and save on travel time. On the downside, it’s more easy to become distracted, you may feel isolated, there may be time zone differences, and maybe you really do miss peer-to-peer interaction.
With that in mind, working away from the office is not as easy as you might think. Implementing a healthy work-life balance can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Whether your quarantining or in the future on a business trip, take into account these 14 brilliant travel hacks when you have to work remotely.
1. Set a Schedule
Before anything else, set yourself up with a schedule for success andstick to it. We’re not just talking about prioritizing your work duties either. Schedule everything from work time (when you’re making calls, meetings, research, project management, billing, etc.) to playtime, so that includes breaks, mealtimes, and time for moments of personal health such as taking a walk or hitting the gym. You’re less apt to become distracted when you have a schedule because it’s easier to stay on task. You’ll be more organized to boot! Just make sure that others respect your schedule, too and vice versa.
2. Create a Work-Friendly Environment
Whether you’re in an tiny hotel room, corporate apartment, or an Airbnb, it’s important that you set up a legit work station so that you stay focused and organized. This means a solid desk or table and a comfortable chair in an area where there’s adequate lighting. Ideally, you want to be near a window where you can take in a little sunshine.
Studies suggest that the sun can boost one’s mood, which is just what you’re going to need when working in an isolated environment. Another option once it is safe, is to find a co-working space in the city or town you’re traveling to. These places already have proper set-ups and as an added bonus, you may even get complimentary snacks and coffee.
3. Dress the Part
While we’re not suggesting you wear a full-on power suit or high heels, working in pajamas, sweats, or fitness attire are liable to deter you from getting into the working mentality. It might feel more like a Saturday afternoon catching up on emails than maintaining your job. In other words, put on something that helps you take your job more seriously. Even a nice pair of jeans and a crisp shirt or blouse will do.
4. Download an Anti-Procrastination App
This is a tough one for those who are working in an office let alone working remotely. While you can tell yourself that you’re not going to surf the web or social media, not doing it is another thing. To make this easier, download an anti-procrastination app to help you focus.
Basically, you set the rules for when you want to use different apps (social media, games, shopping, news sites, etc.) and for how long. The anti-procrastination app will let you know if you’re violating these rules. Other features include time trackers and reminders. There are several to choose from, but some of the most popular include: AppDetox, BaTo.Life, Finish, Focus, Lanes, Mindly, and SelfControl, among others.
5. Save Your Work in the Cloud
It’s a slippery slope if you simply rely on your computer’s hard drive (or another local storage device) to save all of your work. To make this process easier, work in online tools such as Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365 when creating content so that your work is automatically synced to cloud storage.
6. Take Advantage of Workflow Management Apps
It’s possible that your company may already be using a workflow management app to maintain organization and communication between you and your co-workers. If not, you can still download one (or more) of these apps to help keep you on task, host meetings, handle invoicing (if applicable), and more. There are copious apps to choose from, but Trello, Asana, Slack, GoToMeeting, and Monday.com are frequently used.
7. Take Breaks
Remember that schedule you set? Don’t forget to schedule breaks, lest you may still find yourself at your desk when the sun is setting. Breaks are important for mental and physical health and you’re more apt to come back to whatever it was you were working on with a clearer head. A break could be anything from a 30-minute workout to reading a chapter or two from a book you’re reading—anything goes as long as it’s not work-related.
8. Switch-Up Your Environment
It’s good to move to a different working space once in a while as it can be rejuvenating, which in turn can increase your level of concentration. Maybe you head down to the hotel lobby or sit out on your patio. Just be sure not to choose an environment where you’ll become overly distracted.
9. Invest in a Pair of Noise Canceling Headphones
Noise canceling technology is wonderful because it allows you to work in all types of environments without having to listen to distracting sounds like the construction taking place outside, an overly-chatty cafe, or noisy nextdoor neighbors. There are a number of models out there and while they’re a bit pricey, it’s a great investment from a productivity standpoint.
10. Protect Your Work With a Privacy Filter
Whether you handle sensitive data or personal information or you simply don’t like the idea of someone peering at your computer while you’re typing away, a privacy filter can be a saving grace. Find one that fits your laptop screen (there are typically measuring instructions), then attach with the reusable attachment strips. So, if someone is sitting close to you, all they will be able to see from the side is black. It also helps reduce reflections so that you have less eye strain.
11. Keep Track of Your Expenses
If you’re traveling for business and are calculating expenses, save yourself the stress of searching for a bunch of balled up receipts when it’s time to submit your report. If your company doesn’t already have its own app, use one like CamScanner on your phone to track expenses in real time. You can create instant pdfs, files, and pictures of your receipts that are simple to read. Next, simply email them to yourself so you can fill out your expense report in a matter of minutes.
12. Get Yourself a Global Data Hotspot
If you travel internationally, a global data hotspot is a must as not everywhere in the world has reliable internet. Along with the initial investment for the device, there’s typically a per day or monthly fee attached, which varies with each manufacturer. Some of the most top rated on the market include Skyroam, TEP Wireless, Keepgo, Travel WiFi, and Roaming Man.
13. Maintain Good Posture
Here’s the thing: When you’re working remotely, you don’t always have the luxury of the perfect desk or chair, so if you want to avoid bad posture, get yourself a portable laptop stand. This way you never have to worry about your laptop being at the wrong height.
14. Pack a Travel Power Strip
It’s likely that you have more than one electronic device to plug in and it can be difficult to find enough outlets to serve your needs. A travel power strip that handles normal plugs and usb cables is a must for any remote worker on the go. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need a global travel power adapter or converter—just make sure that all of your electronics are dual-voltage so you don’t fry your electronics.
15. Be Prepared to Work Anywhere
Traveling can be unpredictable so you may wind up being stuck at the airport for longer than you like. Download LoungeBuddy to help you find the best lounges in airports all around the globe.
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