It’s no secret: I wander a lot. Hence the name Wander Design Co. With years of living my nomadic ways, I’ve fine-tuned how I stay productive in my business while on the road.
Rarely have I traveled for business, yet everywhere I go I bring some work with me. Most of my traveling is personal, and I can make a darn good argument that it’s essential for my creativity. I like the change of scenery, and I can’t complain about having things to do when it allows me to be nomadic.
1. Prepare ahead of time
Before hitting any town, I like to do some online research. I comb through Google, Yelp, and Pinterest to get an idea of what my next destination looks like. It’s great to look at a map and orient myself beforehand to be more familiar with the city when I arrive.
I also communicate with my team and clients prior to traveling, which I highly suggest being open about. This way, we are able to plan around different time zones or the hours I won’t be available.
Underneath my office desk, I keep a beautiful black handbag designated solely for business. I keep spare supplies I would need outside the office like a pen, business cards, extra phone charger, headphones, etc. in said bag so I don’t forget anything when I’m rushing out the door. I simply place my laptop and notebook in this bag and off I go.
My checklist items for any travel are my laptop (my all-star ball and chain), external hard drive, notebook, pen, headphones, cell phone, wallet, reusable water bottle (empty or not), and chargers.
I always throw in snacks in case there’s no food where I’m working or it simply doesn’t look appetizing. And finally, a sweater, because you never know how cold they like it in there.
2. Analyze the work environment
Right away, I rule out places that are crowded or have distracting music. I once tried to work while there was live music and to anyone’s guess, I didn’t get much done.
An obvious indicator that you’ve found a great café to work in is seeing handfuls of people working away on their laptops. If I don’t see this, I just scan the place for a comfy place to sit, an electrical outlet nearby, and I check my phone for WiFi.
When I place an order, I first ask for confirmation about the WiFi and if there’s a password. You’d think every place you get a coffee has this, but you’d be surprised.
3. Plan what you want to accomplish
Sometimes, I only have an hour to work so I put small tasks on my to-do list. Most of the time, however, I have a few hours to be productive. Here’s when I choose one main goal to accomplish, and small tasks in case I finish early.
I like to keep these tasks organized in my automated Trello schedule.
I prefer to plan my to-do list to fit the time frames I have to avoid feeling disturbed when it’s time to leave. This may take some trial and error to realize what is accomplishable within certain time frames.
And this goes without saying but a huge don’t in working on the road is: don’t discuss sensitive business information! Whether it’s something specific to your business or giving out credit card details on the phone, someone can and will be paying attention.
4. Be considerate
Now, with great flexibility comes great responsibilities. Always be courteous of other customers and the business itself.
I don’t take up tables larger than what I need. I even sit at the bar (whether it’s a brewery, a brunch place, or a sushi place) and try to tuck myself on the end. Better yet, I sit in an armchair if the place has one and I’ll only be there for a short time.
I always order something, even if it’s just a plain coffee and I’m not going to drink it. It’s a token of my appreciation for the amenities I’m enjoying for my business. Not to mention the order counts as a business expense because I’m doing a money-earning task.
If I’m planning on working more than four hours, I hit up the library instead. Libraries are one of my favorite places to work. I’ve visited so many, it’s turned into a fun game to see how different they all are. My favorite so far has been the Prescott library – they have a café!
Speaking of favorites, my favorite places to work depend on the time of day or how much work I want to accomplish. For the truly ambitious, I hit the library. For any time in the morning or afternoon, I go to a café. If I’m doing a working dinner, a quaint restaurant is ideal. Upon arrival, I ask the waiter if they could seat me next to an electrical outlet. When I tell them I’m working, they are very accommodating and I leave a nice tip. And if I’m working late, the brewery is my go-to.
So working on the road can be just as productive as working in your office. It just takes a bit of planning and prepping, mentally checking off my work environment requirements, and being considerate of others. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Next time you’re on the go, try a new place to work for a couple hours. Perhaps it will become your next favorite place to get things done!