Life on the road and working remotely isn't for everyone.
Even if you’re not factoring in a family, constant travel can be hard on your mindset and productivity.
While there’s this belief that entrepreneurs can “work from anywhere” and field salespeople get to “enjoy traveling on the company dime,” the reality is different.
Two of the big things I came up against when I began to travel consistently were, 1) my old schedule no longer served my productivity goals, and 2) I often felt like I was missing out when I was in some of the more glamorous locations that we end up in.
Instead of letting myself get defeated, I've found ways to stay productive long-term, and enjoy my time on the road. Considering that if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you spend a bit of time on the road for your work, I’m going to share some of the things that have worked for me to stay productive and positive on the road.
Communicate and Set Expectations With Your Team — but Only to a Point
Letting your team know where you’ll be and when exactly you’ll be working is important for special or one-off trips — but I found that it doesn’t make sense when I'm constantly on the road. It’s too much to ask people to keep track of (they have enough to worry about with their own schedules!), and frankly it's of little value to them anyway.
What I do let my team know is what time zone I’ll be in. That way they’ll have a general idea of when I’ll likely be awake or sleeping. I stay flexible about my working hours, so my team knows that as long as it’s not 1 a.m. my time, they are never “bothering” me during weekdays.
Also, the Showcase team follows the 12 Week Year planning process, which comes into play here. We all set our goals, and then for the next 12 weeks everyone knows what each other is working toward in addition to our business-as-usual activities. As a leader, this gives me a lot of confidence in my team’s productivity while I’m remote.
Go Against the Modern-Day Ideal: Fit Your Life Around Your Work
They say that for a healthy work/life balance, you should make your work fit around your life, and not the other way around. But I think that might be BS.
When you’re traveling more often than not, you have to make a concerted effort to get your work done. And that means prioritizing work while you travel.
During the weekdays, I find that keeping a very flexible schedule is the thing that makes life on the road actually feasible. That means sometimes I get up very early or stay up late to meet my customer/team obligations and achieve my goals across time zones. My husband keeps a flexible schedule as well, and we have an understanding that if we don’t get much time together during the week, we will spend lots of time together on the weekend.
To balance out the somewhat unpredictable weekday work schedule, my husband and I dedicate Saturday to doing our own thing. We don’t work on Saturday. Mostly ;)
Change Your FOMO Mindset
This was a really, really big issue for me at first. I’d travel to exotic locations - and some not very exotic ones! - for sales meetings and industry events, and feel a bit resentful that I wasn't out being a tourist.
But any time I did go out to do non-work activities during the week I couldn't enjoy them because I knew I should be working.
To solve this problem, I had to actively shift my mindset.
These days I don't let myself indulge in thinking that I’m “missing out” on anything during the weekdays. I remember that my work is the reason I can have a flexible arrangement at all. And I remember that the weekend is always coming! If I prioritize work during the week, I can spend the weekends exploring and having fun without any sense of guilt.
Enjoying Life on the Road
Personally, I’ve designed my life around having a flexible living environment. I prefer to travel than be stationary for too long. For some people, however, constant travel is simply their job. And I think in those cases it’s even more important to find productivity and mindset-improving routines that work well for you.
For more on this topic along with some really good advice for anyone with a work/vacation combo coming up this summer, check out this podcast episode and blog post from Amber at Productivity Straight Talk.