The benefits of not being tied to an office are straightforward:

– You can strike a better work/home balance

– Potentially be more productive

– Save gas

– Dodge traffic

– Make you’re own schedule

– Have flexibility

– Work from the beach

Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business owner or at-home worker, it can be your ticket to a happy, productive work life. According to Harvard Business Review, at-home workers finished 13.5% more calls than staff working in the office. They also report higher levels of job satisfaction. They believe an increase in productivity was partially due to having a quieter work environment to handle calls. No matter what type of work you do, having an environment that’s conducive to getting work done is key. But the question remains, “What do you do when you’re not able to work in the best place possible?” Here are some tips to make your environment more conducive to getting work done when you’re traveling or forced to work in a less than ideal setting:

  1. Always carry headphones.

If you work well with soft music in the background, it can be enough to drown out whatever other noises you might hear than can distract you. Stefanie O’Connell, Millennial Personal Finance Author and Entrepreneur at suggests, “Know what kind of work environment is most conducive to your productivity and make it mobile. For example, if you know you’re most productive at your local coffee shop, seek out similar environments when you’re on the road or download some white noise conversation tracks onto your phone.” This way you can plan to create a makeshift work space that allows you to work well when the setting isn’t ideal. No matter where you work, O’Connell also emphasizes having a primary focus and believes do lists can work against you when too many items are added. She suggests choosing a few important tasks at the most. This way you increase the likelihood of accomplishing what you need to get done – wherever you are.

While headphones can allow you to choose what you listen to, you can also put them on without playing anything.  They can simple be worn to deter others from talking to you in a public setting. So while you might have to hear a baby cry or someone complain about their seat on the plane, the headphones can serve as an informal do not disturb sign.

2. Shoot for calm settings.

While a coffee shop provides a change of scenery, a lively atmosphere to connect with other young entrepreneurs, and a tasty beverage, it’s not always the best place for getting certain kinds of work done. They can be too noisy or distracting for accomplishing certain tasks like reading, writing or anything analytical. Sometimes I’m cruising along getting work done and then hit a snag if other people’s conversations are a little too loud or the guy next to me has the sniffles and for whatever reason refuses to get a tissue.

Credit Card and Travel Journalist, Jason Steele of agrees that coffee shops and other public spaces tend to be too noisy to focus on writing. Steele adds “While I’m most productive in my office, when I have to work while traveling, I tend to do so best at my hotel room where I can have the most quiet, a decent desk, and good Wifi.”

3. Include elements of your favorite work environment to your work setting.

If you’d rather work from the beach or coffee shop but aren’t able to get there, attempt to recreate some of the goodness from those locations. If you like the sound of ocean waves, type in “Relaxing 3 hour video of a tropical beach with blue sky, white sand and palm tree” is a favorite on Youtube or if you enjoy classical music in the background, try “The Best of Liszt” there as well. If you like both and have a hard time deciding, type in “Bach: Classical Music for Studying and Concentration.” It’s a relaxing blend of both calming piano music and ocean waves in one. And remember, you can always stop at your favorite coffee place to bring your own beverage and healthy snack before work away.

The Bottom Line

If you’re spinning your wheels and getting nowhere with your work, use the tips listed above to help you work more productively when conditions aren’t ideal.



Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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