Habits that keep me productive anywhere I go
Do you think it’s challenging to stay focused and disciplined? I would say it depends on the environment and your mindset, more precisely your relation with the stuff you are supposed to work on. When I was working in boring offices, sometimes even without a window, it was really hard to enjoy work and I often found myself procrastinating my tasks.
Today I work in beautiful islands, often airports and coffee-shops when I’m traveling between resort clients in different destinations. Let me share some tricks and practices regarding how I maintain a smooth and productive workflow.
Planning more, working less
Yes, that’s right. I spend more time planning than executing or managing projects. If a client of mine has a problem to solve, I don’t start working on it right away. That would be foolish. Instead, I take 4-5 days to analyze and understand the situation from multiple aspects, then figure out at least two possible ways to solve it. Then I will present these solutions to the client who will decide which seems better for them.
After getting familiar with an issue, I can think about it even when I’m offline, on flight or somewhere else, then it only takes one hour to put a brief document or presentation together.
This is key. Staying organized saves me a lot of time. My time spent on finding my documents, previous reports, invoices, emails, data, contacts and so on is minimal. I also like to use project management and notepad apps such as Microsoft OneNote, or Samsung Notes on my tablet. This helps me to keep focused on top priority projects and tasks, also to keep save ideas on the go. Whenever I open my laptop, or phone, or tablet, I know exactly what I will work on.
NAP means “no asshole policy”. Pretty self explanatory, I don’t work with assholes, even if they want to pay a premium fee. I only cooperate with companies where the management is intelligent enough to work professionally and won’t try to abuse my service.
What do assholes typically do? They waste my time. They try to get me involved in projects that don’t lead anywhere. They try to make me do things that are not related to our contracted project. They demand attention and time even when it’s not necessary for their business. They make me frustrated, and as the result of all these, I won’t have time and attention on my valuable clients - who pay for my time and support. For these reasons, I don’t work with assholes.
Always be comfortable
I still did not answer how I manage to work on airports, coffee shops and other noisy places, so here it is. I pay extra for my comfort and peace of mind. Otherwise it would be impossible. I like to go to the airport lounge, where there is strong WiFi and the atmosphere is pleasant. I choose flights with 3-4 hour overlay which leaves me enough time to enjoy some shopping and then 1-2 hours to catch up with emails and projects.
When I work in coffee shops, which I love by the way, I like call in to reserve my favorite hidden corner tables where nobody will disturb me. I like to take a water, a large black coffee without sugar and milk, then once I finish with what I planned, I will have another coffee and a cherry cheese cake. Yumm!
Using premium laptops is a must to minimize annoyances and be able to focus on work. Earlier I was using a MacBook Air, then a MacBook Pro, but since a year I switched to a Microsoft Surface Book which is an amazing computer. I choose equally good tablets, like iPad or Galaxy S series, however I normally use a mid-range phone because those offer better battery life compared to tech-filled flagships.