Working while on the road has plenty of benefits, such as setting your own schedule or not having to commute to and from work. However, when you are working in your van, it can be a bit challenging to have a productive work routine. It takes an amazing amount of freedom and flexibility to make sure that you stay productive at all times while you are on the road. There are a couple of tips that you can follow so that you will have the right balance of work and play.
1. Always Plan Ahead and Research Any Cell Reception in Your Area
One of the things that you have to think about when working on the road is having good cell reception. The best option for your internet access while on the road is to have a cell phone plan with unlimited high-speed data, coverage in most areas where you will be spending time, and unlimited mobile hotspot capability.
Try not to skimp on the data because when your data runs out, it will mean your connection will get way slower, which will kill your productivity. You can make use of Wi-Fi extenders so that you can get the data you need. Here is an article that I have written about Wi-Fi extenders that you might find helpful.
One thing that you should be aware of when you are working on the road is that there are many national parks, dispersed campsites, and recreation areas that tend to be in areas with little to no reception. Whenever you plan on spending time exploring off-grid areas, you will need to plan your work around the times that you will have reliable services.
Use coverage maps on your cell service provider’s website so that you can predict whether or not you will have service at your destination. When you need a stronger signal for uploading bigger files, it is best to download a free Wi-Fi Finder App on your phone to find places like libraries or coffee shops for you to have access online.
2. No Internet Connection: How to Stay Productive
There may be some tasks that wouldn’t require you to connect to the internet. You can organize and edit photos or read some sort of long report or paper if you have any. These said tasks are easier to get done when you don’t have the distraction of the internet.
Before going off the grid, make sure that you download anything that you need to complete whatever tasks you have that you can do offline. Once you are out of service, do the work to get the tasks done.
3. Don’t Work in Your PJs: Always Start the Day By Getting Ready
You might be thinking that you can always work in your pajamas every day since you are now working remotely. For the first few weeks or months, you might want to kick back on the couch in your comfy clothes, and though it might feel good for the day, it definitely does not help with your work ethic in the long term.
It is better to start your day as you would when you are going on a regular job. Take a shower and get ready for the day. Choose to dress up and not down. Even though no one sees you, you will be surprised at how much getting ready can have a positive impact on your mental health.
Even if no one can see you, you will be surprised at how much getting ready can help with your productivity as well as mentally. Dressing up for work will make you feel more motivated and ready to tackle any work that you have on your list, leading to a very productive day.
4. Make Sure that You Set Aside Clear Working Hours
It is best to set aside dedicated times to work with no distractions whatsoever so that you have clear blocks of time whenever you are working vs. not working. It is crucial that you set clear expectations when you are traveling with someone who may not have the same work duties as you do.
If you don’t do this, you may find that work will spill over into every spare minute that you have. It can also drive your partner crazy, and you won’t be able to enjoy the freedom of van life fully. A good example is if you are an early riser, you can set aside three hours in the morning to get some work done before you head out for your outdoor adventure, such as riding bikes, hiking, walking, etc.
It is also nice to get big chunks of work done during the weekend when the trails are a little bit busier. Doing this will recreate midweek when no one is out there, and you can avoid the weekend crowds at the same time. If you stick to this routine, you can get work done and still have plenty of time for your outdoor adventures!
5. Base Your Itinerary Around Your Working Hours: Planning Is Key
When you are working full-time, your hours may be dedicated by your clients, customers, or even the time zone of your team. However, when your schedule has some flexibility, determine when you are most productive and can work great in terms of planning out the delicate balance between traveling and working, which is mentioned above.
Once you have determined your work hours, you have to plan your traveling or leisure time around that. For example, some people have the highest energy in the morning before lunchtime and late in the evenings after dinner. Depending on what is going on in your day, try to schedule the most important work tasks first thing in the morning, and other less important tasks should be done in the evening.
If this is you, then you can have your leisure time during the middle of the day. You can do exploring and travel in the middle of the day, but you can still do tasks that require less brainpower, such as admin tasks and replying to emails.
When you understand your energy flow throughout the day and plan your work schedule properly around that, you will be more productive with your work and will get more tasks done during the day.
6. Make Use of Helpful Tools: It Can Help You Get Organized
When it comes to working on the road, it is crucial that you get organized as much as possible. Doing this will help you get the work done faster, and you can meet important deadlines. You can get different organizational tactics depending on your workflow, but there are a couple of tools that you can use to stay organized.
Google Docs. This tool is perfect since you can save your documents for offline editing. All you have to do is make sure to do this while you are still within service.
Google Drive or Dropbox. It is a great way to keep your photos and documents organized as well as accessible from anywhere you go. Most people prefer this over different hard drives that could easily get lost or damaged in the van. It will also allow you to share assets with your team.
Task Manager. Some of the popular tools under this category are Asana, the Notes App that can be downloaded on your phone, Trello, or a good old-fashioned notebook when you like to write.
Sked Social. This is a social media tool that you can use to schedule social media posts in advance. It also includes direct publishing for Instagram and IG stories. You will love the feature where you can create and schedule multiple posts at one in advance.
Slack. If you need to communicate with your team, this is the best tool to use. It will help you keep conversations organized and streamlined so you won’t lose them in a sea of emails.
Voice Memos. You can send voice memos to your team instead of writing things out. It would save plenty of time!
Using these tools will definitely help you stay organized and will save you plenty of time. It can also help you stay productive and meet any deadlines that you may have.
7. Limit All Distraction and Avoid Binge-Snacking
There are plenty of distractions around your van that are set up for comfort, such as phones, TVs, games, and so much more. Adjusting to working from your van can be a real challenge since there are so many things that you can get distracted by. It is best to limit all possible distractions that you may so that you can keep your focus while working on the road.
One of the things that you should avoid when working on the road is binge-snacking. Whenever you chow down on your favorite snacks during your work hours can be a huge productivity killer. When you are hungry, it is best just to make a clean break and go eat, but don’t do this at the same time.
Always practice separating work with pleasure when you are working on the road. You should also know when to log off and finish work. If you do this, you will greatly increase your productivity and when you are done with your work, make sure that you enjoy your free time.
8. Stay In Motion, Keep Moving, and Stay Hydrated: Great for Mental Focus
Another great work on the road trip for keeping your productivity at its highest is to keep moving. If you are working from your van, it is common for you to sit for long periods of time. However, moving will stimulate you and help you keep your focus. Be sure that you walk around a bit or even stand up for a couple of minutes just to get your body moving.
Staying in motion is not only crucial for your brain but is also great for your emotions and body. If you can get out of your seat routinely, that would be great.
Plenty of hydration is needed when it comes to staying mentally fit, which is something that most people have a hard time keeping track of. If you go hours without getting a sip of water, it is best to break this bad habit by downloading an app that will remind you to drink more water.
When you have plenty of fluids in your body, it will increase your focus and boost your energy, and will keep your body as well as mind healthy.
9. Feeling Anxious or Lose of Focus: Step Back and Meditate
If your workload is too stressful or even outside your control can be overwhelming, then it is important that you take the time and take a moment to meditate. Meditation is a fail-proof way to calm your mind and body when provided the opportunity. You can use the Headspace app to do quick five to ten-minute guided meditation sessions whenever you need to refocus and find inner rest.
Aside from that, you can also take a 20-minute power nap. Napping is proven to be a productivity booster and not an inhibitor. When you are feeling hazy, try and take a 20-minute nap but no more so that you can get your focus back to the workload that you have for that day.
10. Create A Dedicated Workspace in Your Van Life: Great for Boosting Productivity
When you are building your van, you can add a small table or space where you can do your daily work. You can have a popup dining table where it can serve as a workspace for you. Having a dedicated space while you work can help you focus and not get distracted by the other people or things that surround you in your van.
Make sure that you plan your van layout during the building process and think carefully about where you want to place your working space. Some people tend to overlook this process, and when it is time to work, they will have no dedicated space for work.
11. Research Coworking Spaces: When You Are Tired of Your Van
If you are tired of working in your van and want to see different faces while working, it is best to look for coworking spaces such as coffee shops, cafes, or libraries. You can reserve the day with the least number of meetings to go and visit a coffee shop if you like the buzzy energy and new environment that comes with it.
You can always check on TripAdvisor, Google, or Yelp ahead of time for places where there is Wi-Fi or reviews from others about working in that particular place. If you can’t find any information, you can call, email, or send them a message through WhatsApp so that you know if they have public Wi-Fi or not.
Working in a different environment than your workplace in the van can be exciting and fun. There are times when you can get lonely in your van, might miss the buzz of an office, and might need to clear separation of work and van life that’s often needed for you to feel sane.
Also, being in a room with fellow people who work remotely can make you more productive rather than staying cooped up inside your van. It is the same as hitting productivity ‘peer pressure’ from an office environment, but with the added benefit of being in an amazing and cool destination.
12. Schedule and Do Your Emails In Batches: Can Be Less Overwhelming
Reading emails can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you have a lot of them. It is best not to read your emails first thing when you are logging on to work. Try to place this task as a second priority as it can easily tire you out. At most times, people are more likely to read emails during the workday, as opposed to on nights or the weekends.
If you have emails to write, you can draft them in batches whenever you have available service, and then you can schedule them to send at your preferred time. If you are using Gmail, there is a scheduled send tool that is built right into Gmail, so it doesn’t require any special extension or add-on in your browser.
Another tool that you can use is Boomerang which allows you to schedule emails to be sent at a future time. When you batch and schedule your emails ahead of time, you don’t need to plan your day around your emails or worry about having service when you want them to go out.
13. Plan Your Meetings and Use Noise Cancelling Earphones: Great Tip for Meetings
It is best to plan your meetings back to back in the early morning or in the late afternoon. Doing this will eliminate having your commitment scattered throughout your workday, and you can still get to enjoy the great outdoors as well as get a whiff of fresh air.
If you are living with another person inside your van, it is best to invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. In a small space, it is easy to get distracted by whatever the other person is doing inside the van. These types of headphones will help tune out conversations, music, and other background noises that you have in your van that might slow you down.
14. Do You Have A Business? It Is Best to Hire A Virtual Assistant
If you own your own business, hiring a virtual assistant may be a smart move to do. Now, it may be scary at first since you would need to part with the money, especially when you are not making that much on your business. However, if you think that you are drowning in your work and you have tasks that you can outsource, it is best to consider hiring a virtual assistant so that you can take some tasks out of your plate.
In the long run, you will end up increasing your revenue, and you will have more bandwidth to focus on tasks that matter and are most important. You will also have a healthier work-life balance which is essential for boosting your creativity. You can find different virtual assistants on freelance sites such as Upwork.
15. Don’t Mind Social Media and Other News Sites: Considered As A Distraction
For you to get work done so that you can play, it is best to stay away from Social Media and new sites as much as possible. Close Instagram, take the time away from your phone, and get more focused on your work. The more you procrastinate through social media and focus on unnecessary information, the longer you are going to have to sit at your computer.
Also, you will have less time you will have for fun. As I have mentioned above, it is important that you get organized by using the social media scheduler. It will also help minimize the time that you spend scrolling on your Social Media profile.
16. Make Sure That You Enjoy The Adventure!
There are times when the best thing that you can do for your productivity is just to unplug and take advantage of the great outdoors. Taking a hike is not only good for your physical health but also good for your brain. When you feel like you are not getting anywhere with your work and you’re stuck, take a break. Make sure that you get your blood pumping out in the fresh air, then when you are ready, come back with a renewed focus!
If you are looking to find a way to earn money while living permanently in your van, here is an article that I have written for you.