Staying Productive on the Road
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Staying Productive on the Road

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I’ve clicked over to Facebook at least 52 times while writing (or starting to write, or thinking about writing) this post.  All I can think about right now is how it’s 70 degrees outside and I really want to go for a walk. Or read a book. Or maybe go swimming…

BUT Heath is recording a podcast and I was supposed to have finished this blog yesterday…So…

Staying focused on work isn’t easy–especially when you’re traveling full-time.

In our private Facebook community, we recently asked the pressing question for all RV Entrepreneurs:

How do you stay productive on the road?

We had a lot of interesting and different responses. In this post, I’m sharing with you insights from a few other business owners and full-time RVers who know a thing or two about staying productive on the road. Here’s nine tips for kicking butt and doing work on the road:

1. Deadlines

In the Padgett RV, we are BIG believers in deadlines.

Earlier this year, we hired an editor to help us finish Hourly America. We made reservations for two months in Alabama where our editor lived and decided that we had to complete the entire film before our reservation ended. This forced us to work on a fixed timeline and gave us little room for distraction.

We ended up finishing the documentary at 2 PM on our final day in town and saving ourselves so much stress. In those moments when we needed to make tough decisions or push through obstacles, the only thing that pushed us through was knowing we had a deadline that we could not miss.

Deadlines are easy when you’re being held accountable to a paid client, but personal projects are often way more difficult. When it came to actually premiering our documentary, we held true to premiering on Labor Day by booking flights back to Austin and telling our family.

Easy Ways to Meet Deadlines

  • Posting a calendar on your wall near where you work
  • Creating a countdown to the due date
  • Announce your deadline publicly
  • Create financial incentives i.e. for every day that you pass your deadline without completing the project, you have to pay your spouse $1 (I would be rich if Heath agreed to this)
  • Create accountability with clients, employees, spouse, etc.

2. Accountability

Accountability on the road isn’t easy, but it is key for accomplishing your goals faster. Like with our editor in Alabama, having someone around to guide your actions and make sure you’re focused is invaluable.

Heath and I try to keep each other accountable as best we can. For us, we share a content calendar for the blog, talk daily about what our goals are for the day, and help fill in each other’s gaps. When Heath’s email is overwhelming, I jump in and answer as many as I can. When I am busy editing a video project, Heath makes sure the blog stays up to date.

Without each other, our business would go no where. Accountability makes all the difference. Whether it’s a spouse, a fellow entrepreneur, a friend–heck, you can ask your mom! Just make sure you both keep each other accountable (not just one-way) and that you never resent your accountability partner for reminding you to stay productive.

Easy Ways to Stay Accountable

  • Set up a weekly call
  • Share your calendar or to do lists (like Asana)
  • Create an email thread where you tell each other your daily goals each morning and then what you actually accomplished each evening

day-designer-to-do-lists

3. To Do Lists

Ah, to do lists. The bread and butter of productivity.

I prefer physical to do lists, so I can have the satisfaction of crossing tasks off when I complete them. Plus, when you keep a physical list, it’s easier to jot down notes and ideas while you’re working.

I personally wouldn’t survive without my Day Designer (affiliate link). A Day Designer, which is a brand of a super awesome planner, helps me to focus on my day’s top three tasks as well as organize all of my meetings, appointments, etc. I love this planner more than others because it helps me focus on specific projects so I don’t get caught up in little details like checking email or filling out invoices. The real work comes first.

If you prefer online to do lists, Todoist or Asana both work well (plus they are both free). I tried Asana for awhile, mostly because Asana is great for assigning tasks to other team members. But Heath kept ignoring my Asana assignments and every time I opened a browser to check Asana, I got distracted online. So for me, physical is the way to go.

Easy Resources for Creating Online To Do Lists

  • Asana.com
  • Todoist.com
  • Reminders app on the iPhone

Easy Resources for Creating Physical To Do Lists (other than Post-its!)

4. Hour Trackers

Heath and I 100% refuse to be paid by the hour for any of our client work. It’s too much of a hassle to keep track of billable hours. However, to get a better idea of how he was spending his time, Heath has been using the Hours app for most of this year. This helped show him how much time he was spending on client projects, writing blogs, editing podcasts, etc. If you manage multiple projects, this is a great way to make sure you’re actually focusing on the work you care most about.

For me, I’m more concerned with how much time I’m wasting. Apps like Rescue Time or TimeDoctor (recommended by the Facebook group) keep track of where you’re spending your time. Do you constantly refresh your email? Guilty. Or check Facebook or Instagram when you want a break? Guilty. These apps will show you how much time you waste and hopefully teach you how to better use your time.

Resources for Tracking Your Time

5. Get Out of the RV!

The most difficult part of working with film is that I must do all of my editing from home because I use an iMac. I did once see someone set up a desktop computer at a Starbucks, but that seems a little excessive. However, when I’m writing blogs or updating the website or responding to emails, I am almost always 10x as productive if I work from outside of the RV.

There’s something about working near other people around that keeps you accountable to getting work done instead of scooting over to Netflix for a quick pick-me-up. Plus, if you don’t have an unlimited Internet plan, working out of the RV is a great way to guarantee reliable, free wi-fi.

Great Places to Get Work Done

  • Coffeeshops
  • Washabeerias (These are laundry mats that are also bars with free wifi. It’s like a college kids dream come true.)
  • Libraries
  • Gyms — YES. Heath and I worked out of gym in Cupertino every day last winter. Solid wifi, tons of tables, and then you’re slightly more likely to get in shape.
  • McDonald’s or other restaurants with free wi-fi

kayak

6. Take Breaks

I spend a good portion of my days sitting in Adobe Premier editing footage. Sometimes hours will pass and I will still be sitting in the exact same position. I like to set 50 minute timers on my phone to keep me from getting too lost in projects.

I actually got this idea from The Office during an episode where they talk about how your eyes and legs need a break from sitting and staring at a computer every hour. Taking short breaks every hour may sound counterintuitive to productivity, but as long as you don’t get distracted by snacks or dirty dishes or email, then these little breaks are great for resetting your brain so you can jump back into your work with fresh eyes.

Easy Ways to Take Breaks During the Day

  • Set timers on your phone
  • Make plans to take a short walk with a spouse or pet (Heath and I try to do this as often as possible during the work day so we can hit our daily step count)
  • Exercise, kayak, or take a hike
  • Go out for coffee

7. Visuals & Vision Boards

When it comes to tracking big goals, visuals help my mind better grasp what I’m working toward. I use my Day Designer as a calendar visual to keep me focused, but photos, maps, screen savers, dry erase boards, and vision boards are good too.

Personally, I don’t think visuals and vision boards are as easy to do in an RV as in an office, but they are great concepts (Pinterest boards a better option for minimalists). When I start getting despondent about work, Heath reminds me that if my goal is to eventually own a beachfront house in California with an avocado tree and a hot tub, then I need to get back to work. Works like a charm! (I ❤️ guacamole).

Resources for Creating Visuals

8. Journaling

This is Heath’s #1 daily task that keeps him on track. He spends 10-30 minutes each morning journaling while he drinks his coffee. I try to journal, but all of my journal entries turn into to do lists which turns into me just jumping straight into work. However, if you can do it without getting distracted, journaling is a great way to open your mind and clear your head before jumping into the work day.

If you want to start journaling every day but don’t know how to start, here’s a helpful guide by Zen Habits.

Free Apps for Online Journaling

9. A Nagging Wife

Ah, the true key to Heath’s success 😉

Spouses are the best source of encouragement, motivation, and help out there. Heath and I are husband and wife first, business partners second. But sometimes it’s a little difficult to strike a clear balance. There is a fine line between being an accountable business partner and a good wife (I’ll let you know if I ever find it).

However, letting Heath know I’m on his team and want him to succeed is the easiest motivation there is.

How do you stay productive while on the road? Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear your best tips!

Follow Alyssa Padgett:

Travel blogger

Film producer + Writer + Full-time Traveler. My husband thinks I'm funny.

  • Alowetta Terrien

    Very well written blog post! Very impressed with your work and your suggested resources – because we use some of them too 😉 !

  • Candance Wallace

    So I started reading this on my lunch break yesterday but had to get back to work. Needless to say, I had to come back and finish it! This is such a well-written and resourceful post. Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks 🙂

    • Haha, that’s too funny. I suppose the irony is that reading this post isn’t productive? 🙂

      • Candance Wallace

        Haha I guess so!

  • Teresa Rosche Ott

    Thank you for this, Alyssa. Several favorites here that actually work (if I use them!) as well as some good ideas I haven’t tried. The Time Out app for Mac is great for setting up now just to take breaks, by the way.

    Also, what is this about washabeerias!?!? How could I have not heard about such an awesome concept?!!!? I can’t wait to get on the road and discover such wondrous things!

    • Ha, yes, using them is key!! I haven’t heard of Time Out. I’ll have to look into it! Thanks for the suggestion.

      Apparently washabeerias are a southern thing but I’ve seen one in Portland too! They are pretty crazy. 🙂