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How To Be Productive While Traveling

If you have a nine to five job, then maybe your challenge is to not work while you travel. The hard part might be escaping the calls and emails. But when you're independent, sometimes it's difficult to harmoniously mix business with your traveling.

I offer advice on this not as a seasoned expert, but as someone who has had very productive times while traveling as well as times where I got next to nothing done. From those experiences I can share some ideas on what has and hasn't worked.

Being productive on a trip actually begins before the trip starts. At home, in a controlled environment, you can manage several things at once: optimally one big project and then a few small things like email, errands, etc. While traveling I find that the minutiae are very difficult to manage. Things like paying bills and replying to email falls by the wayside very quickly.

So for the couple days before you go one a trip, allow yourself to take time from your main focus to get ahead on the small stuff. For me, currently on a 6 week trip through China and Europe, that means queuing up blog posts, catching up on all emails, paying any bills in advance, etc. Unfortunately I did not do that, so I spent a lot of today dealing with these things at the expense of enjoying China.

Making Rules for Yourself

I don't notice that I have a million rules for myself until someone hears about one, asks if I have others, and the conversation lasts for hours. I know that even with all of the discipline I've built over the years, I'm still susceptible to making impulsive decisions in the moment, so I make rules for myself. In my brain those rules have special status as being immutable and important.

To give you some examples of rules I have: I'm not allowed to break my diet while in San Francisco, unless I'm in a social situation (and then I must eat as close as possible); I no longer book trips unless I'm going with friends or visiting friends; I wasn't allowed to watch movies in theaters in 2013; I don't allow myself to spend any time dating until 2015.

Today I thought it might be interesting to walk through an example and discuss how it was created and how you can make your own.

One of the least productive states of mind to be in is the one where you're racking your brain to make a decision that is not important or should have already been made. Besides wasting time, this practice depletes your will power, which is one of your most valuable resources and could be spent pushing towards your goals. The main reason I have a million rules is to trick myself into rarely or never going into that state.

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