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Traveling is a big part of life for most entrepreneurs. As an artist and owner of a business that specializes in niche marketing and PR, I need to be presentable no matter where I am. Traveling is a huge part of what I do, both for business and pleasure. I do work from anywhere and everywhere: Whether it’s in a camper or a fancy hotel lobby, on a ski lift, at a bar or even when I’m at my grandma’s house for a family dinner.
I’d like to share a few tips that have helped me eliminate challenges and enabled me to focus no matter where I am. As we like to say in German, udbung macht den Meister, which means “exercise makes a master” — learning by doing is surely the way to go. Here are some insider tips to make your life easier:
1. Stay organized
Keep your things clean and organized. This will allow you to find exactly what you’re looking for faster, so you can keep focused on the task at hand instead of getting distracted by searching for something you’ve lost. Reorganize your travel bag, backpack or computer bag every day. It will take only a few minutes if you do it regularly.
2. Create a short but solid to-do list
Airports, business meetings, packing, unpacking, scheduling calls, trying to get some sleep and still look decent can get chaotic. Make a to-do list of things that must be done in just the next 12 hours, not more. Don’t overdo it. Create that list every night, and put it out next to your phone or laptop so that it is the first thing in the morning that you see. Keep it around you all day until you are done with it. For example, your daily list might look something like this:
Unwanted mail, advertisements and things of that nature can be an annoying challenge and create clutter. You can make a daily contribution to sustainability by using the opened envelopes from the mail you receive to create your to-do lists each day. I like to use orange or purple ink to write my lists — there’s more on the reason behind that in the next section.
3. Understand the environmental impacts on your brain while working
An understanding of colors and how the overall environment subconsciously affects your mood and wellness is crucial if you want to be able to work more efficiently anywhere, at any time. Regarding colors and their typical effects, some of the most uplifting and motivating, yet not overstimulating colors include green, purple and orange — hence, my choice of ink colors referenced above. Blue is known to calm the senses but can perhaps make you too calm and possibly trigger depression. Red is often associated with anger or aggression. The precise effects of color on each individual depend on their personal circumstances, so it’s best to conduct some research based on your own needs.
4. Choose a view
Studies have shown that exposure to nature benefits mental health and reduces stress. Depending on where you find yourself, put yourself in a position where you have a view of something that is either relaxing or neutral, not overstimulating. For example, a mellow restaurant or coffee shop with an outdoor patio area (preferably) that has a view of the majestic Pacific Ocean would be relaxing (as long as the surf does not look too scary that day!) When I was recently on the exotic island of Kauai in Hawaii, I chose a view of the volcano canyon which encompassed the beautiful rain forest with an entire color palette of greens.
When in New York City, there are many designer boutique hotels with great décor and colorful art in the lobbies. You don’t need to stay there to work there. The surroundings have a mood-elevating effect. Or you could bring the work to a museum; for example, a place such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art inspires me to be more creative.
5. Find the right environment for you
Art has a huge impact on mental health and stress reduction. Different images, paintings, photographs or sculptures can affect you in multiple ways. Once again, the colors play a very important role as well. If you are in a tight spot, facing a time constraint or an imminent deadline, try to stay away from the color red as it tends to bring up negative feelings. On the other hand, if you feel down or are experiencing low energy, the color red can help in a smaller dose. For example, you could wear a red t-shirt or set up a red screen protector. Choose blue or purple for more creativity and mellowness. Purple also helps enhance problem-solving skills, orange supports optimism, and green fosters a sense of harmony. Avoid images that could trigger stress or those that might bring up bad memories. If the art or the color in your immediate environment is creating issues for you, set yourself up elsewhere in the room.
6. Use reminders to improve your focus
Use a tool as a gentle reminder to keep you in a focused working mode. It could be anything, such as a sticker on your laptop that shares a positive message or even some uplifting words on the mug that’s by your side. A nice little notebook that could also be used for the above-mentioned to-do list can be easy to consult. Additionally, you can write down some thoughts and reminders to “tune out” from all that surrounds you. Sometimes it can be good to put yourself into working mode by creating a pleasant bubble and keeping the outside world out of it.
The influence of various intensities of Hz sound waves on the ability to concentrate or focus has been demonstrated in various recent studies. When music was tuned to 432 Hz as opposed to 440 Hz, the subjects of the study showed a marked decrease in heart rate and slight decreases in both the respiratory rate and blood pressure. Experimenting with different wavelengths of music and sound or listening to recordings of the ocean or other natural sounds can relax you and help you to focus on the tasks at hand.
7. Remember to breathe
Studies have shown that taking control of your breath and using meditation can have major positive impacts on your brain and on your entire body. These methods are being employed in schools around the world to elevate the concentration of students before class. What I like to do, throughout the day, is to take three deep breaths to supply the brain with fresh oxygen; if you desire, you can conduct a short meditation session while you are doing the breathing exercises.
Wrap up your day
Remember to cross items off the to-do list as they are completed. This elevates your sense of accomplishment and is also very satisfying. Be sure to write down the next steps for follow-up actions you need to take so that when you next pick up your work, you can start exactly where you left off. These little things can all make a big difference to your productivity at the office, whether at home or away!