Top Apps for Road Warriors 1Getting the Most from Your Apps

Top Apps for Road Warriors 1
Getting the Most from Your Apps

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Match Apps to your Workstyle to Maximise your Road-Warrior Productivity

I have no idea what time it is at home or at my destination.

I am in transit between Singapore and New York, in the Turkish Airlines lounge at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport and I am highly productive.  Why? I have my Top Apps working for me.

I’ve been travelling regularly (and at times constantly!) on business for over a decade, and during that time not only have I elevated my packing skills to a “Minimalist” art form (I leave most of my male colleagues for dead in this regard!) but also honed my “road warrior” productivity to distinction!  [In fact, I typically reach Gold status on Star Alliance within the first few months of my annual anniversary!]

Staying connected and effective on the road has in many ways become much easier during the past 5 years, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, cloud computing, and “Apps”.  However, in some respects the abundance of choice in both hardware and software can be daunting and add complexity rather than simplicity to our nomadic lives.

The key to keeping it simple is to start by examining how you work – and how you would like to work more effectively. Ask yourself what has gone pear-shaped on the road; is it something you can avoid having happen again?  [Left your phone charger at home? Unfortunately I don’t think there’s an app that can pack for you yet – but there are online, customisable packing checklists, just Google “packing checklist”!]

Then think about what support you need on the road and research Apps that might help you.  This is a chance to kick some bad habits.  A process-based approach is more likely to result in choosing and using Apps that become part of your unique workstyle.  Try to use fewer apps more comprehensively, and build new productive habits around them.

Lose (most of!) the Paper – Tip 1

You will benefit most from your investment in travel-smart devices and software if you make a concerted effort to go paperless.  That doesn’t mean you never use paper again (post-it notes still have their place!), but it does mean you need to learn to take notes, review, edit and mark-up documents electronically, scan or photograph documents, reports and articles, and then save them all via your favourite cross-device platform  [I recommend an App for this later on.]

I admit going paperless is not easy and it takes perseverance to build new habits.  [You really have to apply yourself to it.]

I made a promise to myself in 2012 that if I was going to justify purchasing a tablet then I would need to lose my faithful Moleskine™ notebooks, which accompanied me everywhere.  After 6 months I felt liberated, and now 3 years on I love the fact that wherever I am the most important and precious parts of my life are at my fingertips (virtually if not physically!).  When I go back to places I’ve been before, all my clues and “learnings” about operating in that environment are instantly available.

The exception to this paperless rule is your travel documentation – I always ensure I have hard copies of my itineraries (and especially hotel/office addresses in the local language) in case of a tech-fail.  I cannot emphasise this enough – ALWAYS carry a hard copy and USB-drive copy of your travel documents.

Consider Going Premium! – Tip 2

While there are thousands of free Apps available and these will suffice for many basic needs, some of the more critical Apps offer an upgrade to “premium” or “professional” level for an annual subscription.  These versions usually have more features, more storage and sometimes better security.  I recommend subscribing to your favourite Apps if they are central to your productivity.

Check your Platform Coverage – Tip 3

Duplication is the enemy of efficiency.  Consider what platforms your company supports and work with those.  Choose complementary (or even better compatible) Apps, so you don’t end up replicating data or getting caught out.

I confess to being an Android-girl, and if you are as well, be mindful that access to Google platforms are usually blocked or restricted in mainland China (Hong Kong SAR is generally ok).  This is Google-specific, not Android.  Google Maps, Chrome, Gmail, and Google search engine are the ones that affect me most on the road, so I try to save offline maps before I go, and have added an alternative browser and search engine to my phone and tablet.

So how do I find Apps that will work for me?

Now you have a good level of self-awareness of your own work-style preferences, the bad habits you want to lose, and the good habits you want to strengthen, its time to go App shopping!  In the next part of this two-part series I share my Top 8 Apps to help you get started on the road to higher productivity!