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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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                                    Trending in Productivity

                                    1 How To Break the Procrastination Cycle 2 Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing) 3 5 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination and Feeling Overwhelmed 4 Why You Procrastinate: 7 Possible Reasons You Can’t Get Anything Done 5 Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

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                                    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

                                    How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

                                    How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

                                    How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

                                    There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

                                    The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

                                    For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

                                    1. Feeling Eager and Energized

                                    This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

                                    2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

                                    The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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                                    3. Still No Action

                                    More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

                                    4. Flicker of Hope Left

                                    You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

                                    5. Fading Quickly

                                    Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

                                    6. Vow to Yourself

                                    Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

                                    Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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                                    How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

                                    Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

                                    To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

                                    1. Feeling Eager and Energized

                                    This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

                                    2. Plan

                                    Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

                                    3. Resistance

                                    Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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                                    What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

                                    4. Confront Those Feelings

                                    Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

                                    Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

                                    5. Put Results Before Comfort

                                    You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

                                    6. Repeat

                                    Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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                                    Final Thoughts

                                    Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

                                    If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

                                    Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

                                    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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