Time Management Tips on Working Remotely and Traveling Overseas

In Travel While Working by Phoebe Nicolas

We are now living in the time where having a job and traveling the world do not have to be exclusive from each other. More and more companies around the world are embracing the concept of working remotely and allowing their employees to work from home or anywhere else.

Working remotely and traveling overseas can be both at arm’s reach. Remote work gives you the chance to travel and explore incredible new places while still being able to do the work you love. The secret is simple: Time Management.

Here are some advantages of working remotely:

  • Have a flexible work schedule you can tailor to fit your needs and preferences.
  • Minimize distractions such as office gossip, distracting co-workers, and unnecessary noise.
  • Reduce time spent commuting and walking to work.
  • Have extra time for yourself to travel and see the world.

While working away from the office seems very appealing, there is one obstacle that you have to conquer: Managing your time while working remotely and traveling overseas.

Here is an outline of this article:

Managing Time While Working Remotely and Traveling Overseas

As said earlier, one of the perks of working remotely is being able to plan and schedule some time to rest and relax such as going on a trip overseas. However, you can easily get away with the excitement of staying in a new city that you forget to clock in for work.

Managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas will be important if you want to meet your deadlines and goals. We would like to share with you some things that would be useful to keep in mind when managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas.

Before Traveling

Even before going out on that trip, you have to learn how to start organizing yourself and your time. It is important to have a mindset that you need to be managing your time while working remotely and traveling overseas.

1. Settle your travel plans

Even if you book that trip spontaneously, you can still manage your time well.  Here are some important things you need to take in mind to avoid wasting time during your trip:

  • Book your tickets online – Booking your tickets online saves you the hassle and time waiting at a long queue.
  • Make a list of things to bring – Listing your travel essentials makes packing faster and saves you a little time where you can squeeze in a few moments for work.

2. Make a game plan

Planning ahead gives you direction and purpose. It often increases productivity knowing what you have in store for the day. Plan ahead so you can schedule things, prioritize them, and break tasks into small achievable, ones.

It is good to have a game plan for your work prepared when you are preparing to travel while you are working remotely. How do you plan to cover the works hours that may be lost when you travel?

Here are our two options for this:

  • Finish your work before the schedule of your trip – If you will only be traveling for a short period of time and only plan to take a couple of days off, you can work overtime during the days prior to travel. That way, you finish your work early and will not worry about tasks during your trip. Additionally, your trip will not be disturbed with pending work and sudden calls or emails from your boss.
  • Incorporate your work into your trip – Traveling for longer periods of time is a totally different case. If you plan to spend a whole month off backpacking in another continent, you might want to incorporate your work into your travel itinerary. You can dedicate a few hours each day to be spent working, or you can take days off from your trip to meet your work goals and deadlines.

While Traveling

1. Find a comfortable place to work

Whether you are working from home or from another city, remote workers should have a comfortable space dedicated for work. This helps you focus better and having a defined workspace helps you in managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas.

Working from your hotel bed might be very comfortable for you, but actually may be very counterproductive as well. Look for an environment in your area that is conducive for work, where you feel you can be productive and stay focused.

When traveling, find work-friendly places to stay, coffee shops, or co-working spaces where you can avail of Wi-fi and charging sockets to finish your work. Here we list down some places where you can connect to the internet – a digital nomad essential.

  • Coffee shops – Coffee shops sprout from any corner in a place, so finding one will not be very difficult. This is obviously the first one you would go to when looking for an internet connection. They offer both the luxury of food and an internet connection, making it a great place to work when traveling.
  • Co-working Spaces – With the rise in remote jobs came a demand for spaces that can work as temporary workspaces where you can do your remote work. Major cities and even other smaller ones have co-working spaces, which are perfect places to work.
  • Libraries – Libraries are free, quiet spaces you can work at when visiting major cities. You can work in peace and quiet and expect little to no distractions, perfect for focused work.
  • Accommodation – Before you travel, look into your choice of accommodations amenities and facilities: check if they have free Wi-fi. Whether you stay in a hotel, lodge, or hostel, choosing to stay in a place with Wi-fi works to your advantage because you can easily connect to the Internet as needed for doing remote work.

Pro Tip: Always make it a practice to ask for the speed test of the Internet service prior to your arrival at your chosen accommodation. This ensures that you’ll have sufficient internet connection for work, that saves you time, money and effort.

2. Make a daily itinerary

You might feel that making and following an itinerary makes your trip boring and less spontaneous, well, it does not have to be. Making an itinerary does not mean following it down to the last minute or scheduling everything very specifically.

Having an itinerary helps you set blocks of time around the day to accomplish these activities. It is important to plan ahead what you intend to work on for the day and you can plot them into time blocks throughout the day. Once you have an itinerary, you will not be tempted to keep on changing schedules. Committing to a daily schedule outlines your work for you, so you can set your mind on it.

  • Start your day early – To have a solid itinerary, try starting your day early and start it with working on a project right away. That way, all your energy, focus and concentration is spent on the most important work tasks.
  • Do not delay – When working in an office, you may be forced to wake up early for commute, but when working remotely, you can easily be attempted to stay in bed. Start a task early in order to be more productive and make progress. If you delay yourself, lazing around will decrease your motivation.
  • Pretend you are still going to the office – When you establish a thinking that you will still be working at the office, you often wake and prepare yourself earlier, anticipating the commute. This is an advantage because you can achieve more this way. This association between going to the office can make you more productive, the only difference is you are working while traveling.

3. Establish a work routine

Waking up at 6 in the morning, taking a bath, preparing and eating breakfast, having a cup of coffee, and doing errands – having a simple routine to go through everyday helps keep you organized and have a sense of schedule. Plus, they give us the security of having order and stability to our day.

Unlike working at an office with a fixed 9 to 5 schedule, working remotely has the advantage of having a fluid schedule. The downside however, is training yourself to create and stick to a routine that lets you get work actually done.

Even with a work routine, there is still some degree of flexibility to your work schedule. Routines can be structured or loose, but having one keeps you in track of things to do.

Here’s an example of a loose work routine that works great when managing your time while working remotely and traveling overseas:

Wake up
Quick jog or short exercise
Prepare yourself, breakfast
Work for a few hours
Go out and explore the city
Return home by dinner
Continue working

  • Give allowance for time on projects – Tasks usually take longer than you initially think they will. You will often underestimate the projects you can finish within a day or a week, but will often fall short of this. Sometimes, it can be helpful to overestimate the hours or length of time it will take you to finish a project, so that even if you finish early, it will not be a problem.
  • Work at your optimum time – Each one has a specific time or hour of the day when all the creative juices and energy come out. This is the best time to work because you are able to do more and become more productive. Motivation will go up and down throughout the day, so when working remotely while travelling, look for the best time to work and plan your work hours around that.

4. Create a to-do list

Aside from creating and sticking to a daily routine, creating a to-do list is also very helpful in managing your time while working remotely and traveling overseas. This keeps important things in mind helps you remember the things that need to be done.

No matter where or when you work, making a to-do list is a great way to start your work day. It is supposed to be one of the first things you do at the start of the day, so you are aware of the things that need to be done by the end of the day, as well as to track your progress.

Your to-do list reduces time spent guessing what you need to do for the day, so you can spend more time working. When working on multiple projects at the same time, you can easily become disorganized, and having a to-do list helps you organize your thoughts and tasks.

Classifying your to-do lists helps you determine which ones demand more attention over others.

  • High priority list – Things in this list must be put and done before anything else. Whatever you list here, must be done either at the end of the day or by the deadline. This helps you finish tasks with deadlines to meet and avoid procrastinating.
  • Low priority list – These are the things that can be done when you have accomplished your high priority tasks. You should not hurry completing this, and do not attempt to do these things if you have pending high priority tasks.
  • “In between” task list – You can list down here tasks that are not very urgent, and can be done while you are taking a break or when you are transitioning between high and low priority tasks, or simply while waiting for time to pass. These can include tasks that take an hour or less to finish, such as scheduling trips, sending out emails, or making a call.

5. Go on regular breaks

Studies have shown that remote workers are more productive than the regular office workers. They often have more conducive environments for concentrated work spend often work extended hours as they are working in their comfort zones. Only, there is one thing that can happen after a lot of productivity: burnout.

Having some downtime and regular breaks can combat burnout. These quick breaks give you time to relax and refresh your ideas. They are just little chunks of time you can spend thinking of something else other than work so that you can go back to working reinvigorated. You can spend a few minutes to half an hour napping, exercising, and having coffee or a snack. No matter how you want to spend your break, always consider having one in the middle of work.

Even regular office employees have regular lunch, snack, and coffee breaks so there is no reason a traveling remote worker should not have the same luxury.  Do not be guilty if you take breaks when you are on a trip – you deserve them and need them to keep you sane during work.

6. Set boundaries

A problem with working remotely from home or during a trip is that your work and personal life often mix with each other. It is important to set boundaries to draw between your personal and work time. Managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas gives you time for both leisure and work. You can accomplish this by:

  • Set clear availability hours – Just like the importance of having an itinerary and daily work routine, setting up clear availability hours will let your boss and other co-workers know when you will be available to talk or respond to work-related tasks.
  • Mute notifications – If you do not have an urgent project ongoing, you can let your boss and co-workers know that outside your set available hours, your notifications may be muted for the time being. This is something your team should respect.
  • Step away – Once you are done for the day, or with your project, step away from your workspace to prevent you from overworking. Close your laptop, clear out your desk and transition to some personal time.

Set clear physical and time boundaries with your co-workers and family to avoid misunderstandings. These boundaries help you separate work life from home and personal life, that way you do not mix up your hours and properly allocate your time.

7. Prepare yourself for distractions

Working while travelling is not free from distractions itself. Working remotely might keep you away from office gossip and annoying co-workers, but distractions are around you in different forms. These distractions vary from person to person but all the same, so it is important to identify these.

  • Family members – Your family members might be constantly bugging you and asking you to run errands. While traveling, they may be asking you to go out and purchase certain items for them. You have to remind them that you are working even when you are traveling, to avoid losing hours of work. See to it that they respect your work hours. Just because you are traveling it does not mean they can interfere with your time.
  • Internet – The Internet is a double edged sword. You need it for work, but it also keeps you away from work. Going online can be tempting and staying online on different social media platforms can cost you minutes that turn into hours. Learn how to manage your time, and read about it in another section.
  • Changes in schedule – Because you are traveling, you may decide to suddenly change your work routine or put off some work to take a tour or a night out. While this is tempting, you should always plan for changes in schedule ahead of time and not suddenly.
  • Television – Even when you are traveling, you may have the urge to watch television and feel less inclined to work. But, that should not be the case. Avoid this distraction. You can watch television for a few minutes during your break time, but do not split your attention between the screen of your laptop and your television.

It is important to determine what your own distractions are, and make changes soon so that you can avoid these distractions from interfering with your productivity.

8. Limit your Internet browsing time

It is good to surf the web, watch some videos, or scroll through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram once in a while. Social media was carefully designed to be easy and convenient to browse, easily enticing you to stay on them longer. However, managing your time while working remotely and traveling includes limiting your browsing time. As a remote worker, you can easily be clouded by the fact that you have all the time in the world to work, however, time can easily be consumed if you spend it just browsing through social media all day. This leads to decreased work output and decreased productivity.

If the Internet becomes your enemy during work, try the app Freedom to help you solve your dilemma. Learn how to minimize these distractions so that there will be no problem managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas. Here are some tips:

  • Remove social media from your shortcuts – Remove them from your browser shortcuts and logout all your accounts. This keeps you from being tempted to quickly switch and scan Facebook while you are researching on something. This also prevents you from venting out on social media whenever you feel tired during work hours.
  • Set alarms – If you intend to use break times to browse social media or watch online videos, set alarms so that you do not overspend time doing these things and go back to work immediately after. Having an alarm prevents you from getting carried away with browsing and using your phone.
  • Mute social media notifications – You might be the person who wants to see new posts, new videos, or new photos of a friend immediately on social media. However these are often not important and you can easily be distracted by popping and pinging notifications while you are working. To avoid this, put your phone on silent mode or turn off social media notifications altogether.

9. Know how you spend your time

Managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas will be important if you want to continue to hit your deadlines while working away from a trip. Apart from a daily itinerary and routine, knowing how you intend to spend your work hours is also helpful. The following tips will help you to do so:

  • Use a time tracking tool – Invest in a good time tracking tool so that you know how you spend your work hours. Tracking your time not only allows you to see your progress with work – but also helps you see your work patterns and efficacy. Using a time tracking tool helps you see what time of the day you are most efficient, and what time of the day you slack off. This way, you can work around those times to optimize work and productivity. Utilizing a time tracker tool or app will be your work best friend – allows you to see and manage your work, distractions, and other activities. Some tracking tools you might want to try include: Timely, TimeDoctor and Hubstaff.
  • Use an online calendar – While planners and a desktop calendar are physical reminders of your tasks, schedules, and meetings, online calendars are handy and can easily be accessed anywhere and anytime. Online calendars help you in managing your time while working remotely and traveling overseas by plotting your important meetings and schedules. You cannot bring your desktop calendar overseas, but you can simply keep an online calendar on your phone. If you have an online calendar, you can create reminders for deadlines and important calls. Google Calendar is a simple and easy tool that works great for this. Plus, you can incorporate your calendar with your team, co-workers, and boss.
  • Use instant messaging services – Make use of applications and tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Whatsapp, and Slack to easily communicate with members of your team and your boss. This is very helpful for urgent requests and updates. This helps manage your time by knowing what are urgently needed to be done.

You might like to read our article about our Most Recommended Online Tools for Remote Workers.

10. Finish at a definitive time daily

Following your itinerary, try to end your day at the same time each day. This helps separate your personal life from your work life.

Working remotely can feel like going on an indefinite leave – you get so deep into your work, relax at a comfortable place, and easily lose track of time. Unlike the office, no one will be around to remind you that it is the end of the day. Managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas included setting a definite time to end your work day or work period.

It does not have to be at an exact time every day, but it helps to stop working around the same hour each day, so you can still have time for yourself.

11. Reward yourself

It can get exhausting quickly if you feel like you are wasting your trip away on work. You are on a vacation to enjoy the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and peace and quiet, not to sit in front of a monitor all day and respond to emails and calls.

  • Motivate yourself with rewards – Motivate yourself by setting measurable and achievable goals for each project or task you are working on, and reward yourself when you accomplish this. For small tasks, reward yourself with a quick nap, a cup of coffee, or a few minutes of social media browsing. For large tasks, reward yourself with a good nap, a walk, a snack or something else. Positive reinforcement is a good way to motivate, focus and be optimistic towards working while traveling.
  • Take a day off – Even when you are traveling overseas, it is important to keep at least one day a week for yourself. Working daily with no time for leisure leads to stress and a high burnout rate. When you are done with a major project or accomplished a big task, allow yourself to take a day off and enjoy yourself, not worrying about answering calls, emails, writing, or doing anything work-related.

To wrap things up, here’s our final piece:

Remote work is an increasingly popular concept nowadays. Working away from the office, at your own time, with great flexibility – what a concept. While it offers a lot of benefits, there are also challenges and one of the biggest hurdle is time. You have command of your time, but it can be a little difficult when you are managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas.

Now that we have said our piece regarding managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas, one important thing to remember in all of this is to maintain good communication with your boss and co-workers. While disregarding emails and calls can be easy when you are working and traveling, communication should be maintained open and reachable, wherever you are in the world.

There are a lot of things you can do to make managing time while working remotely and traveling overseas easy for you. The most important trick is to have an itinerary and routine that you can follow on a daily basis, just you would in the office. Second, starting your day early and properly allocating time for leisure, work, and rest will show you how you spend time. It is also important to utilize tools such as to-do lists, calendars, and planners, that can help keep you even more organized, so you are aware of the tasks and will not waste time guessing what to do next.

Feeling inspired? Please feel free to share this with your family and friends!

Phoebe Nicolas

Project Manager at Coles Management Ltd
I quit my office based job after 10 years and started to work remotely as a project manager. Working remotely gives me the flexibility and freedom to travel and work at the same time which I really love. I want to share information and tips on how to work while traveling, work from home lifestyle and my travel adventures.
Phoebe Nicolas