10 Tips for Working On-the-Go
These days, most of us find that whether we work out of an office or stay home with the kids, we’re all doing some form of “work” beyond parenting. Between blogging, shop-from-home retail shops, and various other endeavors, the modern mom is keeping busy to make extra money to support her family. Unfortunately, that often means that we must find creative ways to get the job done without a permanent work space. A mobile office is no longer just an option, it’s the norm.
With that in mind, today we’re unpacking 10 tips for making the most out of our time and space while working on-the-go.
1. Plan Ahead
Ideally, you know that you’re going to be mobile with enough advanced warning that you can clearly think through what you want to accomplish, what you need to accomplish those tasks, and how much time you’ll have to work. Much like you would do when packing for any occasion, be it your diaper bag or luggage to go on vacation, pack your “work” essentials before you need to hit the road. And, if you’re one of those people who needs their laptop to work, make sure you have a bag that can accommodate it.
Working on-the-go does not mean trying to do anything and everything your mind can imagine. It does mean focusing on a specific set of tasks during a set amount of time. Therefore, be sure that any key files you need to work are accessible from your hard drive or mobile device. If you’re in the habit of uploading your files to a “cloud,” download the latest version. If you typically work from a web application, make sure that you have a way of working offline. And of course, make sure your laptop, tablet, and/or smartphone is fully charged.
Bring what you need to accomplish the task at hand and leave everything else at the office or home. When time is limited, you have to make the most of it.
When you have limited time, it’s incredibly important to make a to-do list. Whether that list is on a yellow notepad or created using Wunderlist, keep a running list of everything that needs to be done. EVERYTHING. Your to-do list will determine what work gets done when you’re away from the office or home.
Give each item a deadline. Now prioritize the list based on urgency and importance. Items with the nearest deadline and most importance should get done first.
3. Organize Your Bag
There’s a fine line between being prepared and toting around unnecessary stuff. We find this happens all the time with our diaper bag. One day you think you need a pack of diapers, wipes, rash cream, a change of clothes, etc. only to realize six months later that you’ve never once used any of the items in your bag that were so important, and the gummies at the bottom of the bag are now stale.
So, if your work bag is starting to weigh you down, dump it out and start clean. You have far too little time to get the job done to rummage through your bag when you need something. As you repack, reconsider what is absolutely necessary to perform your job in a mobile environment. For many of us, it’s a laptop, power cord, headphones, pen, paper, and smartphone.
Your bag should also include a portable charger. In fact, we have a dedicated pocket in our work bag for our phone and chargers. You never want to worry about your technology devices shutting off while in the middle of working, and we take this seriously.
We charge the myCharge HubMax and HubPlus portable chargers at night along with our mobile devices, then toss them in our bag just in case we need them. Even though we also have a charging cable in the car, we love having the convenience of myCharge. It includes an integrated Apple® Lightning™ cable, an integrated micro-USB cable, and a built-in USB port so that we can stay charged anywhere. And, not only are the cables built in for effortless charging but it also includes self-contained wall prongs that make for clutter-free recharging (you’ll love that it comes pre-charged, so you can use it straight out of the box).
While we intended to use myCharge as a battery backup for professional use, it’s also great for kids who are joining mom while she works. We can’t have those kid tablets losing power!
4. Find Productive Places to Work
Coffee shops and libraries are main stays for those of us working on-the-go, but not all mobile hot spots are ideal for productivity. Consider your working style, then take some time to research potential work spaces before you leave the house.
For example, if your work is creative, you may appreciate working in a busy, noisy coffee shop. In fact, in a study conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research, a moderate level of ambient noise, such as the clattering of plates, soft chatter of people talking, and the stir of a coffee machine was shown to improve performance on creative tasks. You can even reproduce the sounds of a coffee shop here. Other studies show that having an audience can increase performance. Either way, mental effort is contagious. When you’re around people who are working hard, you’re more likely to increase your productivity.
What about where to sit? If your goal is to work and another person is sitting at a table with room, there’s nothing wrong with sharing a table (assuming that other person is also hard at work). However, coffee shops were first designed as businesses, so be sure that you order a cup of coffee first.
At the other end of the work spectrum is the library. Libraries are great if you prefer a quiet working environment, but be aware that even libraries have high traffic periods of time that can ruin productivity.
A library’s busiest times are right around midday or lunchtime, but be sure to check the event calendar. Many local libraries offer story-time to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in the morning. While some of these story-time sessions are conducted in a private room, most are done out in the open. If you can’t avoid going then, plan to bring noise-canceling headphones. You may also want to avoid the main floor of the library as that seems to be where everyone congregates.
5. Stay Connected
Referring back to tip #1, if you know that you need certain tools or systems in order to perform your job, be sure that you plan for it and have them available. That includes Wi-Fi.
You have a few options when it comes to staying connected.
- Accept that you’re going to use up some of your cellular data on your mobile device. You can even choose to use your mobile device as a personal hotspot while working in certain locations.
- Work in locations that offer strong and free wi-fi to avoid roaming or data charges.
- Buy wi-fi. Some hotels and mobile work spaces don’t offer free wi-fi, but do give an option for purchase. If staying connected is pertinent to getting the job done, spend the $10-20 and keep it moving.
6. Protect Your Stuff
If you do choose to use public wi-fi, pay attention to your privacy settings. These days, it’s entirely too easy for hackers to steal your identity and your data without so much as touching your device. Here’s how you can protect yourself:
- Turn off sharing.
- Enable your firewall.
- Use HTTPS and SSL whenever possible.
- Consider using a Virtual Private Network.
- Turn off Wi-Fi when you are not using it.
- Require a password for your personal hotspot.
On a similar note, laptop theft is a real problem. Therefore, when you’re working on-the-go, make sure you never leave your laptop alone. If you must leave your mobile work station, it’s important that you have a good security system in place, as well as anti-theft software to help you track a stolen laptop.
7. Keep pen and paper handy
Even when you have technology at your fingertips, keep a pen and paper handy. What gets written, gets done.
And while it may seem less wasteful to use your phone, tablet, or laptop to make a note, oftentimes the physical nature of a hand written note causes our brains to be more active and place more value on the task. According to the Association for Psychological Science, research shows that “taking notes by hand is better than taking notes on a laptop for remembering conceptual information over the long term.”
Paper also comes in handy if you need to sketch out an idea or write down a phone number while you’re on the phone.
8. Stick to a Routine
When you’re working on-the-go, it’s important to recreate “normal” as much as possible, in the form of a schedule, habits, and work space. Again, plan for this so that you can be productive during the time you have to work. If you operate best with a cup of coffee while listening to talk radio, then go for it.
This point is particularly relevant if you are traveling away from home, be it for work or pleasure. Many of us find that we toss our typical routine out the door when we aren’t sleeping in our own bed – all the way down to what we eat and what time we go to bed. However, if you can stick to a routine, you may find that you’re that much more productive.
9. Remove Distractions
The reason many moms get away from the house (if they are typically at home with the kids) to work is because home offers so many distractions, and when you have stuff that must get done, you just don’t have time to be distracted. Therefore, there’s a few rules that must be enforced:
- Leave your phone somewhere you can’t easily see it. If your kids are with a sitter, be sure to give the sitter an alternate number where you can be reached in case of an emergency.
- Don’t respond to texts or phone calls unless it’s important. Or, just refer back to the previous rule. Simply having your phone in view will take your attention away from what you should be doing if you glance over at it every time your phone lights up with a new notification.
- If you must use your phone, use it as a timer and work towards a specific goal before time runs out. Who doesn’t love a little competition?
- Earbuds? If they’ll drown out all the other distractions, use them. However, if playing music becomes a distraction, you may want to use some foam earbuds that will simply reduce noise, much like you’d do to drown out the sound of your child or husband snoring beside you.
We know of some momtrepreneurs that take removing distractions to a-whole-nother level by checking themselves into a hotel when they have big deadlines or a lot of work that needs to be done. Ordering in-room service and taking a break in the spa actually sounds like a fantastic idea. When it comes to working on-the-go, sometimes you have to get creative.
10. Maximize Downtime
If you find that you have 5-10 minutes of spare time in between activities, utilize it! For example, if you’re waiting in the school carpool lane, you can use that time to check email, update your social media outlets, or return a phone call. In fact, you can plan for this time and work towards it instead of squeezing it in at the last minute.
We get it. You’re a mom. You wear many hats and it’s not always easy to take care of all the jobs you’ve signed up for, but you’ve got this.
Tags: carpool tasks, charger, charging bank, entrepreneur, mobile, mobile office, mobile workspace, momtrepreneur, myCharge, portable charger, smartphone, wahm, work harder, work tips, working mom, working on-the-go, working smarter, wunderlist
Trackback from your site.
Ashley lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children and Kitty Paw. She’s a work-from-home mom with a natural light photography business and a passion for sharing everything she knows. Since leaving the corporate world, she now spends her time chasing her preschooler, nursing her new baby, writing and finding ways to enjoy life. You can find her on Facebook, Google + or on her website.