How to Work When You're on the Road

Nothing’s that fun when the word “work” is thrown into it. But the least you can do is learn how to be the ultimate road warrior.

For the past three or so years, there hasn’t been one trip where I’ve completely abstained from work. It’s probably not the healthiest lifestyle, but in the meantime, I’ve learned to make do and figure out how to get things done. There’s nothing harder than trying to remain productive and concentrated when you’re constantly on the move.

It’s definitely difficult to master the art, but over time I’ve definitely gleaned a few tidbits to make sure I am productive as possible. Often times, it requires an inordinate amount of self-discipline and this is especially if you won’t be as accountable to the home office while you’re out and about. In order to be efficient, you’ll need to make some basic assumptions and anticipate for all kinds of circumstances.

You WILL be less efficient on the road. You just need to accept this. If possible, do as much as work as you can before you leave town to reduce the amount and stress you’ll encounter during the trip. I always think I am going to be more productive than what actually happens.

Leave the tablet at home. I said it. Look, I know there are many add-on keyboard solutions that are able to turn tablets into mini-working computers, but in general, if you want to get shit done, bring the laptop. Tablets are light productivity tools at best and won’t do you any good if you need to work with very specific software.

I have no issues writing on a tablet for the most part, but what often trips me up–no pun intended–is that I need to handle multimedia tasks with ease. This isn’t the easiest on one. On a recent trip to Montreal, I even remember struggling with editing basic Google Spreadsheet documents on an iPad Mini. In the end, my laptop won out. (As a side note, you’ll want to bring the lightest laptop you can find. Battery life is important.)

In a really interesting Digital Trends piece, tech writer Matt Smith gave up his laptop in favor of a tablet for three months to see if it could truly replace his machine. The results?

There’s no chance that it will replace my home office, but the tablet has proven itself capable of light productivity and is clearly superior for entertainment… There are still tasks that tablets struggle with: editing photos on the iPad is possible, for example, but generally easier and more enjoyable on a PC. The point isn’t that a tablet completely replaces a laptop, however; the point is that it obscures the need to buy a new one.

Great for passing the time? Absolutely. Great for being a work monster? Maybe not so much.

Assume the Wi-Fi won’t be working. I don’t care where you are or what kind of connection United or Megabus or Amtrak claims to have, but Wi-Fi en route to your destination is pretty universally inconsistent and slow. Depending on it to be reliable is like saying Miley Cyrus won’t try to “twerk” at her next…

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