Over the last few days, I have been away in the UK and Ireland. Part work, part holiday and this has thrown me out of my regular routine. By following a few best practices I have developed over the years, I have managed to stay on top of the important work and I wanted to share some of these practices with you.
The first thing to get control of is your calendar. This is where scheduling your regular important tasks on your calendar can help. There are a number of things I have to do each week. Write this blog post, record the podcast and record and edit my YouTube videos. During my weekly review, I review my calendar and put in the times I will create the content. Today, Monday, I have scheduled the writing of this blog post. Tomorrow, I will prepare the script for next week’s podcast and Wednesday and Thursday I will prepare my YouTube videos. All of these will be done in the morning so I can spend the afternoon doing the kind of things you would normally do when you are on holiday.
These are my core pieces of content I produce each week and they are important to me. Because they are important they get scheduled. No excuses.
This is the same if you are on a business trip. You are out of your normal working environment and when that happens it is hard to get your regular work done. Often when you are away on a business trip you are in back to back meetings, your normal eating habits get thrown out and your exercise routines are thrown out of sync. This is why it is important to make sure you follow some kind of routine that will enable you to complete your core habits, so the important things are getting done when they need to be done.
So far in the last week, I have written a blog post on a plane, written up some client session feedback on a bus and planned out my weekly YouTube videos while sat in the waiting area of an airport. We are lucky to have tools that enable us to do our work anywhere, yet it can be very difficult to focus on getting that work done when you are travelling between airports and cities. There are a lot of new distractions as well as emails coming in and all the other usual interruptions. It’s tough, but if it’s important to you, you need to find a time to sit down and get it done.
The way to do this is to schedule one or two pieces of work each day. In effect, you use the power of the 2+8 Prioritisation method to stay focused on what needs doing. Today, I have scheduled focused work from 9 AM to 12 PM. I have just got back to Ireland from doing a workshop in the UK and there is a lot of admin work that needs catching up on. Important emails to reply to, the usual business admin and of course this blog post needs writing. Three hours this morning will get everything back up to date and the rest of the day can be spent on holiday type things.
But none of that will happen by accident. I have to schedule deliberate time to get it done. If you are away on a business trip, you can schedule an hour in the morning for your important work — wake up an hour earlier than usual and get it done. Alternatively, if you are more of a night owl, then make it a priority to spend an hour before going to bed to do your important work.
This is far better than worrying about all the work that is piling up while you are away. An hour or two, scheduled, each day for focused work will give you the time you need to stay up to date. You can make decisions about putting off some of your work until you return. Get those into your to-do list manager so that you are fully aware of them and trust you will see it when you get back to your base.
One final trick I use is to schedule a free day when I return home. For me, I will have a day of travelling to get back home. By scheduling a free day on my return means I can recover from the travelling, and have plenty of time to catch up, take stock and do a complete weekly review. The weekly review will put me firmly back in control and I will be able to begin my regular work fully refreshed, up to date and know exactly what needs doing and when.
So if you find business trips and holidays disrupt your natural working state, use your calendar to stay focused on what’s important to you. Spending an hour or two each day doing the necessary work and deciding not to make a decision on some of the things you have to do until you return to your normal environment will free up your mind to either focus on your business trip or enjoy your holiday. That’s a far better state than spending all day worrying about what you are not doing.
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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.
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