It’s been 9 days since my last post. That’s the longest I’ve gone without updating this blog in quite some time. Let me explain why that’s happened.
When I started writing this blog a year ago, I was living and working in a large city in Canada. I’d just returned from a year of living in South Korea and several months of traveling in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Working 8-4, Monday to Friday, I had a routine in place and plenty of memories to draw on from my travels. Writing about those memories was a way to unwind after work and on weekends, a means of freeing my mind and bringing back the good times while keeping up with my writing and developing a creative space.
Right now, I’m living nowhere. Everything I own is crammed into my parent’s basement (honestly, much of it has being laying there forgotten for three years, ever since I moved to Korea). I have no set routine and I really have never been great at setting up my own work schedule. That’s not to say that I haven’t been working during the last month in Ecuador, but I’ve needed to really rearrange my priorities and how I’m handling projects. Let’s talk about it.
The Traveler’s Routine
Finding a routine on the road can be tough, especially when you are moving from place to place every three or four days. Some find it easy—they settle in a little beach town and spend a month or two waking up early, doing yoga, surfing, learning a new language, and working on creative projects in between.
Here’s what I think it comes down to: giving yourself enough time to settle into the flow of a place and then incorporating your daily tasks and priorities into it—not the other way around. Of course, that’s simple enough if you’re staying in one place for a while. Constant travelers don’t have that luxury. They are constantly immersing themselves in new environments, just long enough to get the hang of it before doing something completely different.
Constantly stimulating the senses with new experiences and surroundings is exciting, so it makes sense that it can be tough to haul yourself away and get down to work, even if you’re very passionate about whatever creative project you’ve got in mind. Luckily, constantly moving and traveling itself is a sort of routine. You’ve just got to adjust your mindset.
5 Tips For Staying Productive On The Road
1. Keep to-do lists
It’s a simple concept, but one that often is adopted for just a few days before being forgotten. Don’t forget about it. Right now, I’m experimenting with the app CARROT. It’s a way of gamifying your to-do list, berating you if you ignore it for too long and awarding points when you knock something off the list.
Though CARROT is not free, there are plenty of free apps that allow you to take your to-do list with you on the go. Of course, there’s also the option of keeping a notebook specifically for your to-do lists, which is something I’ve used successfully for the last year. A trick is to divide the page in half, on one side write your to-do list, on the other side write down what you actually did at the end of the day. It’s a good way to visualize what you’ve actually accomplished.
Another obvious point, but so much more important when you are constantly busy with travel. If you thought you were spreading yourself thin with all your projects and ideas at home, then you will really hit a wall when removed from your routine. It might be tough, but you’ve got to pick one. That is, the one top priority that matters above all else. Allow yourself to be devoted to just one idea or project for at least a couple of weeks at a time before moving on to something else.
Deciding what to work on in a particular moment can be such a time-waster. You’ve got to know what comes first. So, write a list of your 3 or 5 things in the order of importance. This way, you’re well aware of what deserves the most of your time.
3. Take a day off (from being a traveler)
Once in a while, it’s OK to stay in your room on your computer all day. It’s OK to take time off from exploring and use that time to catch up on the things that have fallen off your radar. Just taking one day can be enough to reinvigorate your motivation and inspire you to rededicate yourself to something full on.
Sometimes, there’s this intense feeling of guilt that comes along with taking a rest day. You don’t want to miss out on where you are, but going full-out all the time can make you feel lost, especially when your personal goals and plans are always being pushed aside. However, taking that one day to work on your own stuff can mean that you are fully in the moment during those other days, without the nagging feeling of falling behind on something else.
4. Divide your days
We’ve all got the same number of hours in a day, and we all have different ideas about how to use those hours. Luckily, you’ll usually find that you have more time than you think you do, it just depends on how you organize it.
For me, the day happens in thirds. Maybe that’s because I’m so focussed on food and eating proper meals that I just tend to organize things around meal times. Maybe it’s completely different for you. Anyway, I tend to think of the day with windows in the morning, afternoon, and evening. That means I can do one or two main activities in the day and then have one slot for working/relaxing/keeping to a routine. It’s not the same every day, but it seems to work.
Thinking of your day in this way makes it easy to plan what you’re doing. It might now be ideal or workable every day, but it’s a lot less confusing than trying to plan hour by hour.
5. Go out
Distractions happen in hostels and hotel rooms too. Even moreso, really, when you consider that researching where to go next always feels productive, though it’s not really what you were planning to do in the moment. Also, writing while lying in bed (like I’m doing now) always makes you feel a bit slack.
It’s another obvious point, but getting out of your room is a good thing. Being around other people tends to make you want to look like you are very productive, like you’re working on something important. You might not be working for the “right” reasons, but you can’t deny that it’s effective. Heading to an internet café and using a different computer also means that you don’t have your most-visited websites popping up all over the place as well. You’re much more selective about what you’re doing with your time. Also, I don’t tend to see people in cafés watching Netflix on their laptops. That’s gotta mean something.
How do you stay productive and do work while traveling? Do you have a particular routine? Share your tips!