Personal Challenge: How do I Keep Productivity Up While Away for Work…


So, did you notice me drop off the face of the planet there for about two weeks?  Yeah, I went away for work… And it seems that when I do that, everything else just stops happening… I don’t exercise, I don’t keep up with my writing, and I definitely don’t keep up on many of my goals… I haven’t even been reading many blogs, and definitely haven’t been commenting on them…

Work Travel Sucks the Life Out of Me…  

To be fair, we do work quite long days, but I should be able to at least get myself to do an easy 20-30 minutes of yoga or something…And I don’t eat well either… after a long day I am always really hungry… and then we eat at restaurants and I almost always order junk and over eat.  And after a long day, a nice big glass of wine or a cold refreshing cider always makes me feel good… so, I eat and I drink more than I should… and without the regular exercise that I normally get when I am at home, it doesn’t add up to feeling very good…

I have this grand idea that I will exercise, eat well and all the rest… but this last trip the only thing I was pretty good about is drinking enough water/tea to fill up my 8 daily boxes in my bullet journal.  I just get tired and lose all motivation… So I think I need some help.  And maybe an action plan.

I did have some luck last fall with exercise while I was away when I gave myself a fitness challenge.  Not resounding success, but some success…  So perhaps I need to get myself on a new challenge…

A Typical Day…

But what could possibly fill all my time while I am away that I can’t find the time to read, write or exercise?  Well, probably I have a bit lower energy because I am eating so poorly… but let’s quickly go over a typical day… (Keep in mind that this is specific to this last trip that I went on… The daily routine for each site is a little different depending on the accommodation, commute and site procedures.)

  • 5:30 am: get up, shower & pack up stuff for the day.
  • 6:00 am: meet at the truck to drive to site.
  • 6:30-6:45 am: arrive at site & start working.
  • 6:30-7:00 pm: pack up & leave site.
  • 7:00-7:30 pm: back at the hotel to quickly freshen up.
  • 7:30 pm: head out to find a place for dinner.
  • 9:00 pm: back at the hotel.
  • 9:00-10:30 pm: black hole of time that could be used for something productive…

But what happens during that time period where I could potentially be productive?  I do probably spend a good chunk of time playing games on my iPad… And sometimes we do a BBQ lunch at site, so I have to wash our lunch dishes… And I know I get sucked in to TV watching in my hotel room…

view from site

What are my Challenges?

So, what are the challenges that I have that I want to solve:

  1. I don’t exercise at all.
  2. I don’t eat very well.
  3. I get behind on blog writing. (& reading & commenting)
  4. I don’t move forward in any personal goals.
  5. I don’t keep up with other tasks.

The “Why?”

First step in solving a problem is to work out what about the current situation isn’t working… Or to define the problem in more detail…

  1. Exercise: At home, I exercise in the morning, or at structured activities after work.  When I am away, I have to get up earlier to get to site earlier, so my morning opportunity for exercise is diminished or limited.  And once I am back from site, and dinner, I’m often too full to think of exercising right away… so I sit down to relax and lose all motivation…
  2. Eating: I am notorious for stress eating.  And while it’s not always stressful at site, sometimes it can be… And then we also typically don’t have access to a kitchen, so we eat out.  And when eating out, I have access to all sorts of unhealthy and delicious options.  Plus, restaurants often give bigger portions that I could possibly need.  I do try to keep some for lunch the next day… but I could probably do a better job of picking something healthier to begin with… However, I also don’t want to restrict myself to only salads or something like that because that will end up with me unhappy and unsatisfied.
  3. Blogging: As it is, I am always behind or doing things for the blog last minute, so this is bigger than just when I am away for work… this needs to start when I am at home and can get ahead at writing blog posts.  Once I do that, it won’t be as big of a task to finish up a post and schedule it.  My normal time for doing writing and reading is in the morning, but again, with the earlier mornings during site times, this has to be rescheduled for the evening.  My evening time is limited.
  4. Goals: Except perhaps financial goals, because I make overtime at site… I generally don’t make any progress on my goals… Some I can’t really do because I am away from home, but I should be able to come up with some small and easy tasks that I can do remotely that will help me move forward in my goals… But I haven’t laid this out, so everything seems overwhelming… And again, this all has to be scheduled in to my limited evening time.
  5. Tasks: Even if I write them down, which I often forget to, I will get lazy as soon as I am “home” in my hotel room… I am full (overly fully) and mentally tired from a long day… so I lay down with my iPad or the TV on, and just veg…

The Action Plan or Solution

Now that we know a bit more about why I am having these problems, let’s make a reasonable plan for overcoming these difficulties for the next time I go to site…

  1. Exercise:  Based on my moderate success last fall, having a challenge or plan in place for what exercise I am going to do each day is key.  It doesn’t have to be an epic workout, even just a 15-20 minute yoga exercise will be enough to keep me moving.  So, before heading to site next time, I need a fitness challenge or plan.  I’m thinking that I might need to incorporate my daily exercise plan in my bullet journal some how… I need to get better at exercising at home too, so I will experiment with this in the next couple weeks and see what I come up with.
  2. Eating:  I just can’t buy sweets or junk food.  Or, if I do, because we all know going cold turkey on things like that doesn’t exactly work out for the best all the time, I need to make limits on myself.  Maybe pre-portion my snacks… I only get X jelly beans per day.  Not the whole bag of jelly bellies and then buy another one for the next day… Maybe I should apply this limitation thing to dinners too… In a 7 day work week, I can have fries 1 time, I must have a green salad as a main course at least twice, and I can only have 1 plate of food (sometimes we get a bunch of plates to share)… No seconds at dinner.  Eating less at dinner will help me have energy after dinner to try and do something.
  3. Blogging:  I am going to get a blog posting schedule made in my bullet journal.  Listing out the dates, and potential ideas for posts… Then I’ll work on flushing out the ideas with outlines, making the process of writing them less daunting… a blog post has quite a few steps, and writing down one big step in my bullet journal doesn’t make it an easy one to do…
    1. brainstorm subject
    2. write outline
    3. do task/activity on subject (if applicable)
    4. take photos
    5. fill in outline with content
    6. edit photos
    7. edit & publish post
    8. promote post (twitter, pinterest, etc)
  4. Goals:  Just like with blogging, the big thing for getting progress on my goals, when I am low on energy and motivation, is to have smaller steps to take.  I said I was going to fill out my goals with smaller and more actionable items by making special pages in my bullet journal for each of them, but I haven’t done that…  In fact the page for my 2016 goals in my new bullet journal is still blank (I haven’t even transferred the goals from my old bullet journal).  Making spreads in my bullet journal is fun, so I should be able to go through my goals and make smaller actions that I can then assign to a small period of time, even when I am tired… There we go, the first step of my goals is to transfer them to my new bullet journal.  That’s an easy enough first step.  I just need to continue with the baby steps…
  5. Tasks:  I do really well with structured rewards… As a kid, I would deal myself out a game of solitaire and write out a to-do list, then, each item that I checked off on my to-do list would be a certain number of moves in my solitaire game.  Since one of my vices that keeps me from being productive is the games that I enjoy playing on my iPad, I think I will make a deal with myself… I can only play a game if I’ve done a task from my to-do list.  And I can only play one round or a certain time before I need to do another task.  If I’ve made my tasks easy enough that I can get a few done in the evening time that I have while at site, I should be able to get both my relaxing game playing in as well.

Do you have personal challenges that are similar?  And what do you think of my plan?  Do you have any suggestions that might help me get motivated after a long work day away from home?


2 thoughts on “Personal Challenge: How do I Keep Productivity Up While Away for Work…

  1. You took the most important first step which is to identify areas of improvement and create a plan of action. Now you just need to do the work. I write my goals down, then I put them somewhere that forces me to see them often. The front of the refrigerator is a good spot. It keep me from grabbing bad food. Fantastic photos. Canada is beautiful country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The first step is admitting there is a problem… 😉

      I can make plans and lists really well… the actual work on the other hand… well, we will just have to wait and see… Putting a sign on the fridge to discourage me from grabbing bad food is a pretty good idea…

      And thanks. I love the area where I live and work. It really is quite beautiful.


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