I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on the road this summer with different bands, and as usual I can’t stand going out without messing around with some experiment or another. This summer’s theme has been getting all non-essential work (email, blogging, even some producing) done from the back of a tour bus or van on the road.
To that end I’ve been tweaking my system, and here’s some things that have worked for me:
1. Make a list of everything you need to do for the week, then schedule them out for each day.
I try to give myself a variety of tasks to accomplish each day, from really simple stuff (organize computer desktop) to more involved tasks (create marketing strategy for x product). Giving yourself variety will help ensure you get something done, no matter what time frame you have.
2. Pre prep before you get on the bus.
Download anything you need from your home computers, make sure your battery is charged and you have all the cables you need, etc. If you don’t have internet on the road, make sure you bring offline any resources you need, too.
3. Use Wunderlist.
I am not repped by Wunderlist, but I should be. I’ve always liked the program, and over the summer I’ve fallen in love with all the simple and smart things they’ve built into Wunderlist for productivity, and it’s free. Regardless of what program you use, make sure that you can easily access all of your reminders on any of your devices.
4. Think in time segments, not tasks.
I try to focus on what time frame I have at the moment, and then fit the largest task possible into that time frame. For instance, if I know I’ve got a two hour flight to the venue, I’ll pick a task that takes 1.5 hours, and if we run into delays I’ll fill in the smaller tasks after that.
5. Use earbuds.
There’s no better way to communicate to those around you that you’re in work mode then to wear earbuds, even if you’re not listening to music. This will keep you from getting interrupted too much, and focused on your task.
6. If you can, get wifi tethering for your phone.
Wifi tethering allows your laptop to piggyback off of the cell data on your phone, allowing you to access the internet like you’re at home. I haven’t had it this summer, and I miss it- there’s so much productivity you can build in with an internet connection.
7. Don’t be afraid to improvise.
The goal is to get done some stuff, not all your stuff. If you stop for lunch and you’re not done or someone in the band wants to talk, people come first. Close your laptop, give them your full attention, and interact with your fellow humans. It’s okay- your work will be there when you’re finished.