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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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                                    Last Updated on December 10, 2019

                                    How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

                                    How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

                                    It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

                                    So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

                                    1. Find Your Good Reasons

                                    Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

                                    You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

                                    If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

                                    Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

                                    Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

                                    • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
                                    • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
                                    • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
                                    • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

                                    2. Make It Fun

                                    When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

                                    Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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                                    Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

                                    They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

                                    Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

                                    A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

                                    • How can I enjoy this task?
                                    • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
                                    • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

                                    As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

                                    Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

                                    However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

                                    3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

                                    When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

                                    You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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                                    That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

                                    If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

                                    Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

                                    My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

                                    4. Recognize Your Progress

                                    Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

                                    We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

                                    Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

                                    Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

                                    For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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                                    You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

                                    Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

                                    For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

                                    5. Reward Yourself

                                    This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

                                    Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

                                    Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

                                    For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

                                    For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

                                    For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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                                    Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

                                    The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

                                    Mix and Match

                                    Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

                                    Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

                                    Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

                                    Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

                                    More to Boost Your Motivation

                                    Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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