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February 6, 2015

Staying Connected on the Move

Sarah Pavey



A few months ago I was invited to attend a leadership conference in Bristol, U.K. It was an interesting and engaging event where I met some great people - I even wrote a blog post about it, which you can read here, should you wish!

I live several hours away from Bristol. So, when the time came to start planning my trip, I was faced with a decision: should I drive or take the train? Both options had their benefits. Driving would give me more freedom to travel when I wanted, avoid waiting around at stations, and skip the inevitable timetable delays, cancellations and engineering works. However, taking the train would cut out the traffic, avoid difficulties finding a parking space and cash for the meter, and, most importantly, it would give me an extra five hours that I could use to work. With several deadlines coming up, it was a no-brainer: I'd get the train and use the traveling time to get lots done.

So, I set about preparing for my journey. What would I need? What could I work on while I was traveling? How could I maximize my productivity? I was full of good ideas and was feeling organized.

Here was my packing list:

  • Laptop and charger.
  • Smartphone and charger.
  • Notebook.
  • Stationery.
  • Course materials and print outs.
  • Bottle of water and snacks.
  • Train tickets.
  • Seat reservations.
  • Event invite.
  • Business cards.
  • Cash.
  • Earphones.

I printed out the pre-reading for the event, charged my laptop and smartphone, researched directions to the venue and saved them on my phone, and packed my (admittedly, now quite heavy) bag. I was ready to go.

I planned to make a dent in several articles that I'd been working on, design some workbooks, and complete the pre-reading, but things didn't turn out quite as I'd thought. Here's why...

When I got on the train (which was on time) and sat in my reserved seat (with table), I was feeling confident. I unpacked my bag and got ready to start work. Then I looked around for somewhere to plug in my charger... no socket. "No problem," I thought, because the battery would last a good few hours if I turned the screen brightness down.

I powered up and searched for the train's Wi-Fi connection... no luck. "That's O.K.," I thought. Although I'd assumed that all newer trains now had Wi-Fi, I could still connect using my phone. However, there wasn’t reliable 4G coverage and I kept losing connectivity. "No worries," I thought, because I could save my documents offline quickly while I was connected.

By this time, rush hour was in full swing. The seats were rapidly filling up around me and everyone seemed to have the same idea... the table where I’d spread out my work was now cluttered with laptops, smartphones, tablets, and cups of coffee. I no longer had much space, so I put everything away except my laptop. “It's fine,” I told myself, while plugging in my earphones to play some white noise to block out the distractions around me. I tried to carry on working, despite the people who were sneaking a peak at my screen...!

Despite my best intentions, I hadn’t achieved the streamlined and productive travel experience that I had planned. I was still an hour away from Bristol and my phone battery was suffering from the tethering – I planned to take photos and tweet from the event, so I needed to save some juice. I disconnected.

Working while traveling is, in theory, such a great idea... but, you need to plan and research your journey properly in order to remain productive. In hindsight, I should have checked whether my train would have a Wi-Fi connection; I should have booked a table with a charging point; I should have looked into whether there was a "quiet" carriage; and I certainly should have realized that a busy commuter train might be rather busy!

In our new article, How to Stay Productive While Traveling, we discuss a number of useful tips and techniques that you can use to achieve the most while you’re on the move.

Question: What tips do you have for remaining productive while traveling? Share your ideas below!

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3 comments on “Staying Connected on the Move”

  1. Hello Sarah, Oh boy do I relate to your trip, happened to me several times. I would usually take my lunch breaks from events I attend to check on my work! I don't do many events most of them are in US and are always in the same hotel I stay at so I can always go back to my room when needed to! 🙂

    1. Hi Susanne,
      I have also enjoyed being able to return to my hotel room during lunch breaks to check in on work stuff. There are less distractions than say the hotel lobby or restaurant! Yet, the down side is that I am not networking with fellow participants! So, a bit of a trade off.

    2. Hi Susanne,

      Thanks for your comment! That sounds like a really good idea. You've got the option to get some peace and quiet to work... and can get back out to network when you're done. I wish I'd had that opportunity - maybe I should attend more overnight conferences 🙂


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