Working on-the-go can be more of a hassle than a help if you don’t get savvy about mobile productivity.
Mobile Productivity Don'ts Don’t try to make mobile work like office work. You simply can’t work mobile the same way you do at home or in the office. You don’t have the desk space, the elbow room, and sometimes you don’t even have the wifi or the power outlet. Instead of trying to make mobile productivity conform to your office expectations, embrace the challenge of working lean. Save the bulky, complex work for office time. Focus on what you can do quickly. Let go of the need to get everything set up the way you like it. If you spend much time “setting up” a home away from home, you’ll barely get any work done before you get interrupted or realize it’s time to board your flight. Don’t work nonstop. Even though mobile productivity comes with its own set of interruptions and distractions, your body and brain still need a real break. Interruptions are not a break. When you have spent 30 to 45 minutes working, find a stopping point and take a real break for 5 to 15 minutes. Stretch. Walk around if you can. Go to the bathroom, drink some water, look out of the window, listen to music, or chat with the people around. Tune out of work completely for a few minutes and let your brain rest. Then get back to it for another focused, lean work session.
Don’t assume you will have wifi or a power outlet. Even if you know you’ll be near wifi, there’s no guarantee it will be working. Public access wifi is often spotty or slow; if you are counting on it to do research or access files online, you might end up frustrated and unable to do what you need to do. Unless you carry your own wifi source with you, assume that your access will be spotty, at best. Before you leave, download the documents, media, and files you need. Cache your email. Charge your devices and turn off any battery-sucking apps. That way, no matter where you are, you can get something done.
Mobile Productivity Dos Do stay secure. When you use public wifi, look for an https when you log on to various sites. Check for that little s on every site you open, because some public wifi networks provide encryption for the sign-on screens but not for the entire network. If you find yourself needing to use public wifi on a regular basis, look into getting a virtual private network (VPN) from a VPN service provider.
Do stay synced. Use apps that stay synced between your devices so that you can access all your information, with current edits and changes, no matter which device you’re using. Since you’re not always sure about wifi, sync your devices before you head out for the day. If and when you find a secure wifi network, you can sync for changes and updates again.
Do prep your devices. Borrow a concept from the world of professional cooking and create a mise en place on the device you will be using the most. A mise en place is an array of prepared ingredients, arranged neatly wh ere the chef can quickly access them as needed. Dedicate one (or more) of your home screens to the documents, media, and apps important for your current project. These are the ingredients for your work. Don’t depend on standard shortcuts; create direct links to the specific point-of-use. If you know you’ll be collecting contact information, create a shortcut for adding a contact. If you know you will be referencing a certain document, create a shortcut to the document, or take a snapshot of it and place it as your background.
Do have clear priorities. Check your calendar and task list so you know what needs to be done and what can wait. Think in time blocks, even if those blocks are only for 10 or 15 minutes at a time: “Now I’m going to focus on this project… Now on this person… etc.” This way of approaching mobile productivity will result in less back-and-forth wavering and in more focused work.