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Are you in the habit of working on the move? There are ways to do it better.

With freelance and entrepreneurial lifestyles taking off in a big way, work is not limited by hours or locations. It’s great if you have the liberty to work anytime, from anywhere. But this can result in a skewed work-life balance unless you optimize your workflow. If you stay highly productive on the go, when you get back home you can afford to set work aside and focus on other important aspects of your life.

Here are a few pointers to help you make the best of working on a notebook, no matter where you’re working from.

Get Your Setup Right

Fiddling with this setting on your notebook or that can cost you a precious chunk of your work time. Plan ahead, set up your device to your satisfaction, and keep it ready to go. If you’re about to make a new notebook purchase, read Aaron’s post on transitioning from your old device Getting a New Computer, Part 1: How to Transition From Your Old PC to Your New One Getting a New Computer, Part 1: How to Transition From Your Old PC to Your New One Ahhh! The joy of a new computer! An opportunity to start fresh and leave all the worries of your slow, dusty, old computer in the past. However, whether you've just purchased a new computer or... Read More , and steer clear of these laptop-buying mistakes 5 Mistakes You Should Avoid When Buying A New Laptop 5 Mistakes You Should Avoid When Buying A New Laptop The laptop has, for many people, become the only home computer needed. This means picking the right system is both more important, yet also more difficult. Read More .

Pick Your OS & Apps With Care

The OS forms the backbone of your device. Opt for one that feels intuitive and makes your workflow simpler, even if you have to do some research or a major revamp first. The goal is to find an OS that you’re comfortable with.

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Next come the apps that you use for work. When you plan to do most of your work on a low-powered machine like a notebook, you have to choose your apps extra carefully, to ensure that you’re not slowing yourself down. Go for lightweight apps to keep your device speedy.

There’s no sense in wrangling with an unfriendly app no matter how beautiful it looks or how popular it is. Install apps that stay out of your way and allow you to focus on your work. Cloud-based apps can be good alternatives to resource-heavy desktop ones. Whether you need an office suite, an image editing program, or some other program, it is likely to have an online version that works well.

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Don’t leave all your work at the mercy of an Internet connection. Choose offline versions for all of your frequently used apps. This can prevent panic when you find yourself without Internet access or with a shaky connection at best.

If you have multiple devices, you have to spend time readjusting to each of them when you switch from one to the other. Try to maintain similar ecosystems of OSes and apps on all of them. To make your switch from one device to another smooth and seamless, use your browser as a central dashboard Turn Your Browser Into A Supercharged Workspace With These Simple Steps Turn Your Browser Into A Supercharged Workspace With These Simple Steps Wouldn't it be great if you could manage all your digital work from a single dashboard without having to jump from one app to another? Optimize your Web browser to make a centralized workspace. Read More .

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Once you find a device setup that works for you, stick with it. As it is there are many uncertainties and obstacles to deal with when you’re working from different locations. Don’t introduce any more by changing your OS and apps whenever the fancy strikes you. Save that kind of experimentation for your spare time and your home computer.

Keep Your Devices In Sync

If your notebook is the only digital device you own, you can skip this section. But chances are that you own more than one — maybe a smartphone, a desktop, a tablet, to name a few. It helps to keep all these gadgets in sync, so that your data is available on each one of them and you can pick up where you left off every single time.

Be sure to sync your data when you have a steady Internet connection. Visit these portable app websites 5 Websites For Every Portable Application On The Web 5 Websites For Every Portable Application On The Web You already know that some applications offer portable or "soft" installations, but don't you wish there was some place on the Internet where you could find any portable application? Read More to find installation-free software for your notebook, and make data synchronization effortless. Use a service like Dropbox (our guide/ The Unofficial Guide To Dropbox The Unofficial Guide To Dropbox There's more to Dropbox than you might think: you can use it for file sharing, backing up your data, syncing files between computers and even remotely control your computer. Read More ) to keep your important and most accessed data at your fingertips. If you’re plagued by privacy concerns that go hand in hand with hosted cloud-sharing services, try these self-hosted Dropbox alternatives 3 Self-Hosted Dropbox Alternatives, Tested 3 Self-Hosted Dropbox Alternatives, Tested Dropbox is the original cloud syncing and backup tool. But hosting your own Dropbox-like service comes with a few positives. Let's take a look at some awesome self-hosted alternatives to Dropbox. Read More  instead.

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Set Up A Remote Desktop Connection

While a compact notebook is functional, at times you need the capabilities or the data that only your high-powered desktop at home can provide. In such cases, having a ready-to-use remote desktop connection can come to your rescue. Configure your portable device to have access to your home computer, to control your desktop remotely 4 Remote Desktop Apps To Fetch Files In Windows & Beyond 4 Remote Desktop Apps To Fetch Files In Windows & Beyond Microsoft recently removed SkyDrive's "Fetch" feature. Here we show you how you can access files remotely on and from various device, including Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. Read More .

Plan Your Internet Access

Public wireless networks everywhere have made it easy for people to work online from any location, but you cannot guarantee the reliability as well as the security of such networks. Plan your Internet usage and access to ensure that your work won’t be stalled by the lack of Internet connectivity. Explore options like tethering, USB dongles, and WiFi finders Always Be Connected: What You Need to Get Internet Anywhere Always Be Connected: What You Need to Get Internet Anywhere We live in a world where we are accustomed to being connected at all times. It's almost impossible to go out without wanting to have Internet. Between email, social networks, settling arguments, and chatting with... Read More , and arm yourself with these excellent tips to get free WiFi anywhere How to Get Free Wi-Fi Almost Anywhere How to Get Free Wi-Fi Almost Anywhere Public wireless networks are becoming more and more popular as a means of attracting people to a particular business or service, and this is just one of the many ways in which free (or almost... Read More .

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Tighten Device Security

Your computer is the gateway to all of your data. You cannot afford to be lax about its security, regardless of where you’re working from. It pays to be doubly careful when you’re working away from your home network. You never know who is waiting for a chance to take advantage of momentary lapses in security, putting both your data and your privacy at risk. Be aware of the dangers of public WiFi 3 Dangers Of Logging On To Public Wi-Fi 3 Dangers Of Logging On To Public Wi-Fi You've heard that you shouldn't open PayPal, your bank account and possibly even your email while using public WiFi. But what are the actual risks? Read More . Boost your privacy by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Choose from these five great VPN services 5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest? 5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest? Virtual private networks (VPNs) aren’t much of a mainstream service. The only ones who know about VPNs are those who are sufficiently tech-literate, and even among these folks, only few actually use VPNs. The name... Read More .

Keep Your Notebook Charged

It’s frustrating to have your notebook run out of juice when you’re in the midst of something important. Charge your device when you’re at home, and do what you can to improve battery life 7 Ways To Improve Battery Life on Windows 8 Tablets & Laptops 7 Ways To Improve Battery Life on Windows 8 Tablets & Laptops In Windows 8.1 battery-saving features moved! Otherwise they are similar to options seen in previous Windows versions. Learn more to make your tablet or laptop battery last as long as possible. Read More . Invest in a good battery backup if you’re unsure of finding charging outlets when you need them.

Here’s a tip that I found floating on the Web, which promises to speed up your work and limit the duration of your workday. Start with a fully charged notebook and work only as long as the battery has charge left in it.

battery-charging

Minimize The Cables

Gadget cables are known to create a tangled mess in an instant. You can go crazy having to detangle them every now and then. You’re also in danger of tripping over them or disconnecting them accidentally.

The advantage of working with a notebook in tow is that the entire setup is lightweight and created for portability. Weighing yourself down with too many cables and accessories defeats the whole purpose of that. Keep your makeshift work space clean and comfortable by minimizing those cables. Opt for wireless or Bluetooth accessories wherever you can. If you’re using something wired, keep the mess in check using options like Applecores.

messy-cables

Streamline Your Workflow

Every time you open your notebook, you might be tempted to see what’s up on your social networks or to check your email. You know how time flies once you begin to do that. To prevent this haphazardness in your workday, have a specific workflow in place. Earmark time to indulge in digital activity that’s not related to work, be it reading, surfing, or playing games. When you fire up your notebook at other times, let it be only to power through your work.

Have A To-do List Ready

You can never predict when and where you’ll get the opportunity to get some work done. Create a to-do list beforehand. When you find yourself with some extra time on your hands and decide that you want to work on something, pick a task from the list at random and start working. If you prioritize your tasks, that’s even better.

Also make a note of the tasks you need to complete once you’re back home. For example, items like syncing your data, taking a printout, planning your work for tomorrow, etc. can go on this list.

to-do-list

Fight Distractions

If you work from just about anywhere, you have reduced control over your surroundings. You run the risk of multiple distractions, including the inconvenience of a cramped space, noisy chatter in the background, and digital notifications. Even if you’re adept at focusing despite these distractions, you can’t deny that they cause lapses in concentration. If you’re an introvert, they are likely to stress you out even before you have begun work. Pick quiet corners, turn off notifications, wear noise-cancelling headphones, or listen to music that aids focus. In any case, prepare to keep annoyances at bay before you leave home.

Try this trick: Complete each major task on your to-do list from a different location. This will enforce a break even if you don’t remember to take one, and the change of scene will refresh you.

Pack A Paper Notebook

No matter how optimal and efficient your digital notebook is, it is still a step behind the one of the analog variety. Even in the Digital Age, paper is a killer productivity app 6 Simple Reasons Why Paper Can Still Be Your Killer Productivity App 6 Simple Reasons Why Paper Can Still Be Your Killer Productivity App Paper can be a more potent tool for productivity than a computer or a touch device, and shouldn't immediately be dismissed. Not convinced? Here are six reasons why paper is still relevant. Read More . Do carry a notebook and pen for taking quick notes, in case your portable computer goes out of action anytime.

moleskine-notebook

Work Smarter From Anywhere

With the variety of tech aimed to facilitate working on the go, the number of people opting to do so is ever increasing. In this case it’s a good idea to join the herd. It can help separate your work from the rest of your life. Work smart on the move and keep that notebook powered off when you’re at home.

What helps you stay productive when you’re working from random places? Share your tips in the comments.

Image Credits: ** RCB ** via Compfight cc, adactio via Compfight cc, Peter Kaminski via Compfight cc, waferboard via Compfight cc, GraciolliDotcom via Compfight cc, Takashi(aes256) via Compfight cc

  1. Saikat B
    August 12, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I once saw a guy in a coffee shop who actually had a "Do Not Disturb" sticker stuck on the the lid of his laptop. I guess it worked for him because I didn't see anyone disturb him.

    Not a bad idea to use a similar sign on the door when working from home. I feel home distractions are more difficult to control than the office ones. For the former, everyone assumes you are always available...while for the later, at least everyone is working along with you!

    • Akshata
      August 12, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Clever :)

      I agree, Saikat. When you're working from home, people have trouble understanding that your work is no less serious/important than that done in an office away from home. It's up to you to set boundaries, which I took way to much time to realize and implement.

  2. Maryon Jeane
    August 12, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Re the notebook: the best bet by far I have found to be a Livescribe pen with its accompanying notebooks or paper (you can print and make your own sizes as well as the ones commercially available from Livescribe itself). This means that you both have the pen-and-notebook always handy but also can upload everything you've written by hand, plus any verbal notes you've made, to your main computer. Notebooks are too easy to lose or damage (cup of coffee, anyone?...) and the information in them is too static and not searchable. With a Livescribe you've got the best of both worlds, digital and handwritten.

    • Akshata
      August 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      That does sound like the best of both worlds, Maryon. I think it was part of one of our giveaways recently. Thanks for the recommendation.

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