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5 Things I Learned About Productivity While Traveling by Train

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Personal

I love to travel. In fact, I love to travel by train. That increased my productivity.

And I learned a lot doing this over the last 2 and a half years several times a month.

I’m working as a Content Strategist for Bannersnack. Our headquarters is in another town, 165 kilometers away from where I live.

I have to go once in two weeks at the HQ to meet the other part of the marketing team, talk with the developers of the product and connect with the entire team. Yes, I can say that I’m working remotely, but the 165 km to get from one town to another takes only 2 hours and 40 minutes.

In this article I want to show you what I learned from travelling by train and how I optimize my productivity in content creation and learning new stuff.

I believe that there are upsides and downsides of this travel routine, but it depends on the context and the type of person you are.

Because I thought that I’m not a morning person.

In fact, I still have my personal struggles on waking up in the morning. But after hustling several times with myself I found out that I’m a really productive person in the morning. So I took the opportunity to travel by train and still get more productive.

Guess what: I’m writing this article while I’m traveling back home from a long day filled with meetings, brainstorming and getting things done with the team.

01 Why I love trains instead of cars

Why I love trains instead of cars

I travelled by my personal car and by train and I found that the train is a better way to travel for me. I can do whatever I want while I’m travelling.

I can write an article (as I did with this one), I can read a book, I can listen some podcasts or watch some movies. Also, if I’m traveling with my colleague we can talk about things and interests and I don’t have to have my eyes fixed on the road.

But while I’m traveling by car, I can only listen to some music or podcasts or talk with somebody on the phone (with headphones, of course) and that’s all. I can’t do anything visual (writing an article, watching a movie/ documentary or anything on my computer). But I can stop whenever I want and wherever I want.

There are advantages and disadvantages with both types of travelling, but I found out that the best that fits me is the train.

  • Traveling by train took me 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  • Traveling by  car took me 2 hours and 30 minutes.

So, for a 15 minutes win, I don’t believe that is such a big difference. But then again, there are people who love travelling by car more than with other means of transportation available.

Traveling by train helped me build a productivity routine and also a personal one.

02 I have built my morning routine

I have build my morning routine

Maybe the most impossible thing is waking up in the morning at 4 o’clock.

For some of you it’s really hard to do this. I thought that too. But then I learned that if I want to wake up in the morning and be a productive person I should go to sleep earlier.

So I built this kind of routine for myself.

I prepare early the night before the next day. That means that I check if my phone and my laptop have their batteries charged. I iron my clothes (yeah, men can iron too) and I prepare my coffee mug, milk mug and other small breakfast in the kitchen. Then I try to go to bed earlier than 10 pm. Why? Because I found out that if I can sleep 6 hours per night I won’t be tired the next day.

Then, when I wake up at 4 am, I have 1 hour and 15 minutes to get ready.

Why this amount of time? Because I have to leave the house at 05:15 to walk to the train station for 20 minutes. Yes, it’s a 20 minute walk. And while I’m going to the train station I’m playing some of my favorite podcast series. There are moments when I want to hear what Pulizzi and Rose have to say about the content marketing industry or there are moments when I want to enjoy Marketing School short education series.

In this way, I feel I’m ready for the travel.

Having a 20 minutes walk in the morning is something we all have to do while we go to work (ok, if you have the possibility to do that and the office is not far away from your home).

I’m breathing the fresh morning air and have some mini sports (if we can call it right that).

This is the morning routine that I developed for 2 years now. Yeah, I have the time to drink my coffee, eat breakfast (yes, breakfast it’s an important meal, especially when you wake up so early) and I also have my personal meditation moment.

These routine helped me stay close to my schedule, so I never lost a train because I was too tired, didn’t hear the alarm or wasn’t  ready.

03 I’m more productive in the morning…

There are persons who can work very well in the morning and there are persons who can do magic in the night. I’m in the first team, the morning persons.

But I also have friends who are the most productive at the night.

As I already told you, I love listening podcasts early in the morning. There are moments when I play some songs, but then I get to the podcasts too. Why? Because I found out some new ideas, some new thoughts about the things that I’m most interested in and this can be a good help for me.

Yeah, I found a few ideas for the content we create for Bannersnack or Flipsnack from these podcasts.

I’m more productive in the morning because I have my mind clear and fresh. And yes, I have my morning coffee that helps me do the work.

Sometimes I even take a coffee with me and enjoy it while I’m working in the morning.

It’s funny how my team is looking at me when I’m telling them that I’m working in the morning. They thought that I’m crazy, but after I told them that I’m a morning person, I think that they were more relaxed about this. (I hope it’s so)

But I’m productive not only when I’m travelling in the morning but also when I go to office.

I love to be the first who gets there. So I can put some coffee, open the window  to get some fresh air and start working. There were moments when, in only 2 hours, I wrote 3 articles of more than 2000 words. Or that in the morning I had those ideas for a campaign or some strategy work.

You don’t have to be a morning person to be a productive one.

There are persons who can work while they are listening music, or while they are “watching”  TV or while they are eating. I like to have a quiet place, my own space and just focus on my work.

I don’t even answer at the phone or I disconnect Skype or other chat notifications because I don’t want to get distracted.

04 …because I get to prepare for the work I want to do

I’m more productive in the mornin

Yes, I already know what I will work because I’m preparing for this trip.

Let’s say that I want to write an article about instagram strategy for fashion bloggers. Because sometimes I know that I will travel  3 or 5 days in advance, I start looking at these articles about content strategy for fashion bloggers.

I open Buzzsumo and type in “instagram strategy fashion bloggers” then I look at these articles.

If there is something interested that I should read and takeas an example, I save it on Pocket app. This is a great app that will save you the link, download it and let you read it even if you don’t have access to the internet.

Then I go to Google and type the same keywords I used for Buzzsumo. And I’m also getting my ideas from the results I got. Great. Read it. Write down the ideas or save it for later on Pocket.

And now, while I’m traveling, I open my Evernote app and look at the ideas I wrote after I read about “instagram strategy” and “fashion bloggers”. While I’m starting writing the article I’m opening the Pocket app and see if there are examples that I can use for it.

In this way, I can write about almost everything and every time I want, because I don’t have to think “Now what should I write now”.

Preparing for work is something that many content marketers are not thinking about. Because content is something you don’t only have to experience so you can talk about, but you also need to get the examples your readers want to know about and guess what. There are only a few persons in this world that can remember these little details.

This strategy helped me a lot with my content creation. Most of the articles I’ve done lately are written while I was travelling.

05 I also need a break

Yes, I’m a marketer and I love what I’m doing. Some of my closest friends call me a workaholic. I love to call it life style.

But sometimes, when I work with so much passion, I feel like I burn out. So while I’m traveling, I also take a break. Yeah, I’m not a machine who is working every time, I also take a break.

But I didn’t learn this on the simple way. There were moments when I only had my laptop and my smartphone with me and I didn’t want to do anything on the internet.

I got tired using all the social media channels, reading about my interests or watching those videos. I wanted to do something else. And I had 1 hour or even more till I got to the destination. Oh, I also couldn’t sleep at all, so I just stood and waited. Yeah, I got bored but also nervous because I wanted to get to the destination faster.

And that lesson teaches me that I had to carry a book or a notebook with a pen with me.

This is why I’m having a book with me while I’m traveling. It helps me disconnect from my devices and connect with another type of content. Sometimes these are marketing and communication books or other types of books.

If I’m looking right now in my backpack, I’m carrying with me Ryan Holiday’s book  “Trust me I’m lying” that I recommend to everyone of you.

While I’m traveling by train it helps me take a break and just think about stuff, come with new ideas or just do nothing.

Because we, the marketers, sometimes just have to take a break.

Conclusion

We are living in a world where we can work whenever we want and wherever we want.

And sometimes this is a blessing or a curse, but it depends on us on how we approach it.

Traveling by train is something that helped me create content for my personal blog or for other blogs I’m doing guest posts. Because there is no internet on the train and I don’t want to create a Personal Hotspot from my phone, I’m using the same old Document and I just write the article (just like the one you are reading right now).

Now back to you: let me know, in comments, what is your favorite place to work and why? I want to read about your best productivity moment and see if we can learn from each other.

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Robert Katai

Visual Marketer and Content Strategist

"Content isn’t king. Usefulness is. Robert does this in the online marketing and social media space with ease."

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