When I’m in my office, being organized is easy. When I’m on the road, not so much.
Since I became self-employed, traveling has always been frustrating for me for one reason or another. I didn’t have everything I needed, my computer wasn’t working properly, I couldn’t connect to wireless networks in hotels, I couldn’t find things, I was missing phone calls, etc…
I hate being disorganized, and my past travel experiences have caused so much aggravation that I’ve been scared to leave again.
But staying tied to my desk is not realistic—and one of the reasons I started this business was so I could have more freedom and visit home often.
This past week I was in New York for a few days, and I realized there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to be as organized when I’m working from my parents’ house, my friend’s office, or Starbucks, as I am when I’m right here in my office.
I just had to figure out how.
To be organized when traveling, and to avoid driving myself crazy, I need to have the right tools. Here are the ones that helped me on my most recent trip:
A Portable Computer. I have two laptops. One is 8 years old, sounds like a jet engine, and reaches temperatures that would scare a frying pan. The other is newer, but it’s more suited at staying put because the battery is shot, it’s super heavy, and it is very selective about which wireless networks it will connect to. My computer situation was not helping me, and I finally decided to get a netbook. (It’s a small, lightweight, laptop especially made for travel.) I'm in love with my new Asus Eee 1000HE. I never knew portable computing could be so easy. It weighs 3lbs, fits in my purse, connects readily, and is perfect for my needs. And its 9.5 hour battery life is one of the longest in the market. Affordable, and easily the best $375 I’ve ever spent.
- Google Tasks & Google Calendar. When I’m in my office, I use my American Express desktop planner to keep myself organized. I love writing my tasks down and then crossing them out. It gives me such satisfaction. Unfortunately, my desktop planner is not a good traveler. In the past, I’ve used a mini planner. This was fine, but I often found I’d have information in all different places. The planner, scraps of paper, backs of receipts, etc. I was a mess. I use Gmail, and I was telling a friend that I wish they had a place where I could write all my “to do” items that could be incorporated directly into my email, and guess what? They do! It’s called Google Tasks. (If you use Gmail, click on “settings” and then “labs.” Inside the “labs” tab is where you can enable Google Tasks. It even lets you cross things out. Together with the Google Calendar, being organized on the road is much easier.
- Skype. I use Skype in my office, but I have an actual Skype phone. Pretty much it rings, and I pick it up, or I dial it and talk to people on the other end. When I’m on the road, I use Skype on my computer. The problem is, I never actually took time to figure out how it works. When someone called me, I had trouble telling because I wouldn’t clear my “missed events.” Taking a few minutes to clear out the missed events, and familiarize myself with the new version of Skype, was a big help. And, my new netbook has a built in webcam and microphone that makes it perfect for Skype video calls.
- A Flash Drive. I got a tiny flash drive that’s big enough to hold all my documents. I used to put a few things that I might need on my laptop, and I always kicked myself for not having everything. Then I tried bringing a giant portable drive, which fit everything but was so big! Now, with my handy little flash drive, I have it all.
I’m proud to say that this trip went much better than my previous ones. But there’s always room for improvement. Do you have any tips about how to be a more organized traveler? Are there things that are holding you back from being organized?
Week 11 Recap: In Ilise's audio tip on Monday, she talked about picking up the phone instead of emailing– so I did that. And you know something? Sometimes things are easier when you pick up the phone. It's easier to make sure everyone is on the same page. I also spent a lot of time in airports this week, so I talked to everyone…6 of them asked what I do for work, and I told them. I read some articles on Biznik and found 3 more prospects.