This blog post provides a handful of useful tips, for when you are working whilst away / travelling.
A few weeks back I was away for over a week, but I still needed to work whilst away. However I also had to make sure I didn’t travel with too much, as lugging around too much baggage, isn’t pleasant, especially as I was travelling on foot, boat, train and car!
Note: You use any advice / tips in this article at your own risk.
Tip 1 – Only carry the bare essentials, to enable you to accomplish your work
So the only work related items I took, were my laptop, mobile, chargers and a cable! That’s it! However it had taken time and planning to be able to carry just these essential items. If there was a concern over power, I would of taken spare laptop batteries.
I use KeePass to manage all my complex passwords, which means I can enjoy complex passwords, without having to remember them. On my laptop I’ve installed the ‘Prey’ software and service, just in case it is stolen, and then I can activate the service, to try and aid recovery of the laptop. I also used to encrypt my hard drive, using TrueCrypt, but I don’t do that now. I probably should be using encrypted virtual drives though.
My mobile phone can double up as a modem if I have wireless problems. I was fortunate I had good wireless connections whilst away, but if not, I could of handled email and light browsing via my mobile phone.
I don’t rely on online services to do the core of my work. The last thing I need, is that if wireless and mobile issues occur, I can’t write draft emails, look up contact details, do my accounts and other work. Too many people rely on ‘connected services’, and although I use some online services, I can do the bulk of my work offline.
Tip 2 – Manage your communication using technology
When travelling I don’t tell the world via social networks, as I believe that is a security risk. I do however tell a few core clients, and mention I will check my email from time to time. I never log into Skype and try to manage voice / video communication whilst away.
In the past I used to use a VoIP service, to provide a local telephone number. Then any ‘answer machine’ messages, were sent to me via email as audio files, which was a perfect way to pick up messages when away.
Tip 3 – Make sure you have an adequate working area
I’ve learnt that I need reasonable back support and a good surface for my laptop. For example I own a couple of lapdesks I use when on a couch, outdoors or even on a bed. On this journey at one location, I borrowed a lapdesk and worked from a bed! Another time I removed a mirror from a dressing table, replaced the stool with a chair, and hey presto a desk to work from!
Tip 4 – Set aside working time to achieve a good balance
Often when working away, I don’t work all day, but I always make sure I know what hours I will be working each day whilst away. For example whilst I was away on my last trip, I worked between 1pm – 6pm most days. Those around me, then became familiar with when I was working, and I was rarely disturbed. It meant I got to enjoy sleeping in, lazy breakfasts and evenings.
Tip 5 – Tidy up after yourself!
I always leave locations in a good condition. So for example during this trip it meant beds stripped, bins emptied and everything put back the way it was found, as I was staying with people I know, and not in a hotel or B&B. I always treat someone places I stay with respect, regardless of whether I am paying or not.
There is more I could do to improve my working whilst away experience, and I will continue to evolve how I work, when away. However I have found a certain balance which works for me, enabling me to work, but also to reduce stress and to enjoy the environments I am visiting.