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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 15 Techniques for Actually Getting Work Done While On the Go

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 15 Techniques for Actually Getting Work Done While On the Go


    Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

    Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

    How do you stay focused when working on the go — in airports, co-working spaces, Starbucks?

    1. Time Your Work Sessions

    Andy Drish

      Set a timer for thirty minutes and commit to not doing anything else during that time. No phone, no email, no Facebook. Setting a timer frees your mind to focus on the single task at hand without distractions.

      Andy Drish, Referral Squirrel

       

      2. Try the Pomodoro Technique

      Juha Liikala

        The Pomodoro technique is a very effective work-pause-work method invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late ’80s. Each work sprint of 25 minutes is followed by a 5-minute break. First, choose a relatively simple task to accomplish, focus on the task for 25 minutes and then take 5-minute break to grab another cup of coffee. Then, start again. Works like a charm, especially if you’re on the move!

        Juha Liikala, webVehicle Oy

        3. Take Breaks to Network

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          I live by a structured schedule, but it’s hard to concentrate when there’s a lot of opportunity around when I’m working. Scheduling work blocks and breaks is a great way to “reward” myself with time to network, get distracted and enjoy some freedom while still accomplishing my tasks.

          Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

          4. Reliable WiFi with MiFi

            The danger for me when working on-the-go is the lack of reliable Internet connection. When the connection is spotty, I may get distracted with my phone, a newspaper article and more. Having a MiFi device has been an amazing solution; you’re guaranteed to get a fast and fail-free connection so you can work anywhere, anytime.

            Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

            5. Prep Your Offline Workload

              We tend to have a lot of reliance on Internet access, but sometimes when WiFi is spotty or just unavailable, make sure you have plenty of work you can do offline. You can still upload it online later, if needed. Just thinking about Internet problems can be distracting, so by eliminating the need for Internet access, you can focus more energy on getting your work done.

              Danny Wong, Blank Label Group, Inc.

              6. Set Three Clear Goals

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                When I work away from my desk, I usually list out three things I have to get done. I can network or do anything else I want as soon as I finish that work. I make a point of not doing anything else until I finish that work. I’ve never had a problem telling someone that I simply must get something emailed off before I chat — fellow entrepreneurs in particular often understand!
                Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

                7. Artificial Deadlines Really Work!

                  I use a product called Grid-It! by Cocoon to keep my “mobile office” organized. The Grid-It! is a board with a zipped storage compartment on one side and a mesh of elastic bands on the other. The compartment holds paperwork and discs, while the bands hold everything else (cables, gadgets, hard drives, etc). Simple concept, but it’s made my carry-on bag far more manageable.
                  Colin Wright, Exile Lifestyle

                  8. Remember The Milk

                    When traveling, you generally only have a few minutes here and there to really accomplish anything. The way I get around that is to have my to-do list, which is housed at RememberTheMilk.com, stare at me in the face with Priority 1 projects. I then shut the email off so no new distractions come my way. That combination allows me to get things done and then enjoy the world around me.
                    Greg Rollett, The ProductPros

                    9. Wunderlist Stops the Wandering

                      The best tool I have used to help me stay focused on the go is Wunderlist. I can sync my laptop, iPad and iPhone up at all times. If I’m using my phone, I can see the same list of priorities for each client that needs to get done as when I’m on my computer. I think that when you can’t visualize everything that needs to get done, you become easily distracted.
                      Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr

                      10. People Don’t Bother Busy People!

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                      John Hall

                        Staying focused outside of the office is all about the environment, so I put on headphones and listen to some light music. Not only does it block out ambient noise, but people are less likely to distract you if they think you can’t hear them anyway.
                        John Hall, Digital Talent Agents

                         

                        11. Bring Those Headphones

                        Heather Huhman

                          When working outside of an office or your house, it can be easy to get distracted by the immense amount of noise at coffee shops or in the airport. Investing in a nice pair of headphones is a great way to stay focused on the task at hand and tune out the things going on around you.
                          Heather Huhman, Come Recommended

                           

                          12. Divide Tasks by Location

                            When I’m traveling, I divide tasks by location: sitting in the airport, riding in the car, waiting in line, during ascent and descent, and cruising altitude. This requires a bit more planning, but I find that it makes keeping up with email, phone calls and projects relatively easy. The ease and efficiency of never having to wonder what to do now helps me to invest the time wisely.
                            Elizabeth SaundersReal Life E®

                            13. Which Tasks Are Location Independent?

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                            Lucas Sommer

                              If I have to do work in an airport, lobby or Starbucks, I do my best to schedule what I will be working on in advance. Processing data and doing routine tasks is far easier than being creative in these environments. Set yourself up with tasks that you can accomplish given the time, resources and environment.
                              Lucas Sommer, Audimated

                               

                              14. Do a Little Dance!

                              Derek Shanahan

                                Okay, not really dancing; listening to music is kind of a must for me when I’m working in public, while traveling, or otherwise surrounded by people. Let We Are Hunted or The Hype Machine’s Popular list drown out the world, especially in the presence of abundant distractions.
                                Derek Shanahan, Foodtree

                                 

                                15. Keep Co-Working to Truly Work

                                Caitlin McCabe

                                  Working on the go regularly will help train you to focus while outside your own office. A few years ago, I never would have been able to get four emails done as I walk from gate to gate at the airport, but it’s something you can really get good at.
                                  Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding

                                  (Photo credit: Man Travelling with Read Bag at Airport via Shutterstock)

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                                    1 How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months 2 How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You 3 How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 4 How to Make Changes in Life by Changing Your Habits 5 How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

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                                    Last Updated on February 19, 2019

                                    How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

                                    How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

                                    The cycle of bad habits is what keeps us living small and stops us from reaching our true potential. Breaking a bad habit isn’t as hard as it seems; despite being a CEO of a company and raising two children, I still managed to break 3 bad habits I had within 2 months. Yes, that’s quitting one habit in less than 21 days.

                                    I took steps to eliminate them one at a time. Habits such as drinking Coke every day, slouching when sitting and not having a consistent exercise routine.

                                    So how did I break these habits? I used the Control Alternate Delete Method (Ctrl Alt Del).

                                    What is this method and why is it so effective? Read on to find out how to break bad habits with this unique method.

                                    How to break bad habits with the Control Alternate Delete Method

                                      We all notice on some level what our bad habits are. A lot of the time we choose to ignore the negative ways these impact us.

                                      For me, I was sitting most of the day in front of my computer at work in a slouching position. I drank Coke every single day in an attempt to stay awake. I put off any kind of exercise regime because I felt that it was better to just relax and have fun after a whole day of work. As a result, I was leading a really unhealthy lifestyle suffering from weight gain and back pain.

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                                      I needed to make a change.

                                      I started to read books about building habits such as The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, and The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. After reading all these books, I’ve come up with my own method to quit bad habits — The Ctrl Alt Del Method.

                                      I started by focusing on just one bad habit, the first one being the sheer amount of Coke I was consuming each day.

                                      Every day I applied the Ctrl Alt Del Method and after two weeks, not only did I stop drinking Coke every day (I only drank one can in 2 weeks), but I started the better habit of drinking 8 glasses of water every day instead.

                                      After eliminating one bad habit, I moved on to the other two with this same method and a month later I was:

                                      • Hitting the gym twice a week.
                                      • Improving my sitting posture, not only at the office but also at home and everywhere else, improving my back pain.
                                      • Gaining core muscle which improved my back pain as well.
                                      • Losing fat around my waist which went from 36″ (considered obese level) to 32″ (normal level).

                                      If I can improve my life using this method, then so can you. Using this structure to eliminate your bad habits will increase your success and replace your bad habits with more positive ones.

                                      Control: Master your desire

                                        Identify your triggers

                                        Bad habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking and snacking too much trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain.[1] Although you might not like the end result, they give you a positive outcome in the moment. This is pure psychology.

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                                        It’s important to identify what is triggering you to continually act out your bad habit. This isn’t always an easy step because our habits have been built up over a long period of time.

                                        If you need help in identifying your triggers, here’s a list of common bad habits and their triggers: 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

                                        Self-reflect

                                        To help you work out your triggers, do a bit of self-reflection. Ask yourself questions such as:

                                        • What comfort are you getting from this habit?
                                        • Why do you need comfort?

                                        For example, I chose to drink coke because it tasted good and it made me feel good when I was stressed. I slouched only when I sat for too long working on my desk and started to feel tired. I skipped exercises because every day after work I felt I already did enough works and didn’t want to work out.

                                        If you choose to eat fast food every night, you’re probably telling yourself you’re too busy to cook. But ask yourself why? What are your priorities?

                                        Maybe you have a lack of self-worth that means you don’t have the self-love to want to look after your health. Perhaps it’s a sign you’re not making enough time for important routines like shopping and creating a healthy meal yourself. Maybe you’ve always had a belief that you’re a bad cook.

                                        Write a diary

                                        Write down your thoughts and feelings around this bad habit. Writing things down forces the brain to think harder.[2] This helps you to find the source to your stress or limiting negative beliefs.

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                                        Alternate: Find a replacement

                                          Find a positive alternative habit

                                          Once you think you’ve discovered your trigger, try to find a similar but healthy option. This is where I replaced Coke with lemon water; slouching with simply taking a walk and stretching my back every hour; and chilling at home after work with workout exercises that I actually found fun.

                                          You could decide to walk to the office instead of driving or getting off the bus earlier to walk. You could switch to a healthier breakfast cereal instead of grabbing a sugary snack when you head out of the door.

                                          By doing this, you aren’t getting rid of the act altogether like you would if you completely gave something up with nothing to fill that void. This helps your brain accept the improved habit more.

                                          Create a defence plan

                                          Everyone has moments of weakness and that want to revert back to the bad habit will rear its ugly head. This is where a plan can help counteract these moments.

                                          Think of things you can do when the temptations come. For example, if you want to check your phone less, ask your friend or partner to keep it for you or switch it off and read a book. If you’re a starter for an exercise routine, like me, get someone to do it with you to keep you accountable.

                                          Decide on something you will do once you feel triggered to go back to your old habit. Repeating these positive alternative habits consistently will help wire your brain to see them as your normal new habit over time.

                                          Delete: Remove temptations

                                            Remove stuff that reminds you of the bad habit

                                            Getting rid of anything that reminds you of your bad habit is essential. For example, I got rid of coke in my office and at home and replaced my usual office chair with an exercise ball. It makes it much easier to stop slipping back in a weak moment.

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                                            Avoid all kinds of temptations

                                            In the same vein, avoid places or people that you know will tempt you back into that bad habit. Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach to avoid the temptation to buy trashy snacks, don’t drive past that fast food joint but find an alternative route instead, say no more often to the friend you know will get you drunk again this weekend.

                                            It’s all about not putting yourself in the situation where you’re in danger of relapsing.

                                            Conclusion

                                            The Control Alternate Delete Method uses the right steps you need to overcome your need to indulge in your bad habits. Working with your core psychology, emotions and feelings behind your actions is what makes this method effective and easy to apply to all bad habits you have.

                                            Bad habits are easy to form and making changes can seem difficult but remember that it’s all about consistency and repetition.

                                            Start using the Control Alternate Delete Method today and you can stop a bad habit permanently.

                                            What bad habit do you want to put a stop to once and for all? You must set aside time and pick one bad habit to focus on. Start using the steps to increase and maintain more positivity in your life moving forward.

                                            More Resources About Changing Habits

                                            Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

                                            Reference

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