“So, what do you do for work?”
A classic ice breaker heard at social gatherings across the globe. I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked this question and I find it simpler now to answer with something like “I work with computers”. This usually does the trick, working with computers could mean almost anything and most people seem satisfied with a shallow answer to a shallow question.
When people probe deeper into my employment, they are surprised to learn I am constantly on the move. It might sound glamorous but believe me, it isn’t. Most of my time is spent on buses, planes or in crowded cafes and it can be very hard to be productive in such environments. If you are like me and take your work with you, you might be missing an office space, but there are ways to keep productive on the move.
A good base
The lifeblood of my work is my computer. In an office environment, you will most likely be using a desktop PC with an ergonomic chair and workstation. The nature of my work means I don’t have that luxury and as such, laptops have become my best friend. The number of laptops on the market is staggering, so it is important to find one that suits your needs.
If working with Microsoft office is your bread and butter, a comfortable keyboard and a clear screen will take top priority. If you regularly deal with massive spreadsheet files, then I would recommend ATLEAST 8 gigabytes of RAM. If you edit video or process image files, then a meaty CPU and GPU are a must.
Small laptops are great for traveling but often sacrifice power for portability. Cheap laptops have their place but will only serve to frustrate those who need to get serious work done. For a beautiful balance of power, portability, and versatility I am in love with HP laptops like the Spectre. My x360 is thin, light, powerful and equipped with a state-of-the-art touchscreen.
Keep it connected.
The power, screen size and physical dimensions of a laptop are important, but you should also consider connectivity. Countless times I have praised the PC gods for my laptops array of ports and connections. If you are constantly on the road, carrying around adapters can be a real hassle, so keep in mind connections you will regularly use and make sure your computer has these ports.
Network connectivity is also very important. All laptops can now access Wi-Fi networks, which is great if your hotel or chosen café has Wi-Fi. For times when you cannot access a Wi-Fi network, cellular connectivity can be a real boon. If your work takes you to remote locations or you simply don’t want to rely on Wi-Fi networks, finding a laptop that accepts sim cards might a good idea.
Many ISP’s offer “data only” sim cards for the express purpose of adding cellular connectivity to your PC or tablet. Depending on where you are, a cellular network might even offer superior speeds to Wi-Fi. Another option for keeping your laptop connected is to hotspot your smartphones data connection. Take caution when hot-spotting from your phone as its easy to ramp up data charges without realizing!
Mind Body and Soul
As we have already established, choosing the best tool for the job is vital. Without my laptop, I would not be able to keep working and I wouldn’t be able to sustain myself. Without me, however, my laptop is an expensive paperweight. What am I trying to say?
YOU are the most important part of your work. Long hours on cramped seats hunched over a screen can add up to serious health problems later. Life on the road can be taxing but you shouldn’t neglect self-care. It might be tempting to grab take away and convenience store food, but this stuff is unhealthy and expensive.
A regular exercise routine and a well-balanced diet can boost your productivity more than any fancy laptop or piece of software. Countless studies show the benefits of exercise and just 30 minutes a day is deemed acceptable for a healthy adult. No matter where your work takes you, always make time for a walk or jog to get the blood flowing.
Keep your house in order.
If you are anything like me, once my work assignment is finished I can’t wait to get back home. Often when I get home all I want to do is curl up into bed and sleep. Whilst it might be easy to let your home accumulate mess, it’s beneficial to keep it clean and tidy. Clutter and mess can cause subconscious stress, which is exactly the opposite of what you want if you frequently travel for work.
After spending nights in strange hotel rooms and busses, it’s refreshing to have a clean and orderly space that is your own. Stress can take its toll emotionally and physically and reducing stress is the best way of keeping productive and healthy. Keeping things clean and clutter-free in your home can take the stress out of returning home.
Constant travel can be a double-edged sword. If you are like me and have regular bouts of wanderlust, there is something so liberating about seeing new parts of the world, especially when you are being paid to do so. Sometimes though, it can be an incredibly lonely lifestyle. To be productive can be a challenge so its important to nourish your body and mind and keep things fresh.
A reliable computer is a must if you want to keep productive on the move, so make a list of needs before purchasing, keeping in mind battery life, processing power, and connectivity. Staying healthy and stress-free is even more important. This doesn’t have to be impossible, slight adjustments in diet and a daily walk or exercise routine will keep you motivated, healthy and above all productive on the go.