Sep. 17, 2012 at 10:34 AM ET
In our wired world, our work takes place virtually everywhere. How do we stay efficient on the road? And when we manage to take a few days off, how do we make sure we have some semblance of a vacation? We asked some tech-savvy road warriors — including an exec from Google and several business-travel experts — for their best tips.
Sam Shank, CEO of HotelTonight
"I'm actually on a family vacation in Lake Tahoe right now. I keep things quick and simple by pre-scheduling a few tweets; I text more than email. It's more stressful for me to fully go dark, but vacation is about compartmentalizing and time-shifting, so I only glance at email a few times. I don't carry my phone in my pocket (but leave it within earshot). I'm lucky to have a great team that can flag the time-sensitive, important items."
Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President of Social Business, Google
"My best tip? Get a great smartphone and a small tablet. Leave everything else at home. Buy enough extra memory for your camera so you don't have to take a laptop. (I carry a Samsung Galaxy SIII, and an awesome Google Nexus 7 tablet.) Like most people, I'm perpetually connected, so vacation is a chance to dial back a bit. I have poor self control so I've found bringing fewer devices helps me find some balance. I try to limit myself to one prescheduled hour a day if I must work. Honestly though, I find myself breaking these rules on most days."
Wendy Perrin, Director of Consumer News and Digital Community, Condé Nast Traveler
"The advice I hear some psychologists give vacationers is to allocate a specific window of time each day — say, an hour each morning — to checking email and dealing with work, then unplug for the rest of the day. Some others say it's better to interrupt your vacation less often but for longer: Instead of spending one hour per day on email, spend three hours every third day. In reality, I've found that neither method works for me. Since my biggest vacation goal is to spend time doing fun, new activities with my family, what I find most effective is to check email during, and schedule work for, those dead times when the family isn't available anyway — when the kids are sleeping or taking sailing lessons, or when we're in the car listening to books on tape, or when my husband and sons opt for an activity we've done before and I'm happy to skip (say, a third round of mini-golf or an afternoon at the waterpark). If I return from vacation with plenty of fun, new family activities under my belt and photos to prove it, I'll feel I've had a vacation, even if I stayed connected through most of it."
Travis Katz, CEO of Gogobot
"I have a tethering plan that allows me to use my iPhone as a modem, so I can always hop online even when Wi-Fi is not available. The key to enjoying your vacation is to avoid the impulse to respond to every email the second it arrives. I recommend scheduling a couple of windows each day where it is okay to check email or receive calls, and otherwise either turn your phone to airplane mode or switch your email to manual sync mode. I also recommend moving your email icon off your home screen, so you will be less tempted to click."
Nathan Blecharczyk, CTO of Airbnb
"I always carry a GSM iPhone and 3G iPad. Whether you're waiting to board a flight or stuck in traffic, these devices keep me moving. I also carry a 3G USB stick with me in case my phone battery is low. I keep Evernote ready and synched between my devices. During long flights, I use the iPad for reviewing my notes and reading since the battery life is better than the laptop. Work-life balance is imperative for strong productivity, so I try my best to unplug completely when I'm out of the office. If I must work, I schedule all meetings and calls in a two-hour time span at the beginning of the day so I have the rest of the day to relax. During the times I'm 'unplugged,' my phone is in airplane mode so I'm not tempted to check email."
Nanette Lepore, fashion designer
"Bring lots of devices so that you have backup if one of them doesn’t work. I travel with my Blackberry, iphone, iPad and laptop. [My best tip for still having a vacation:] When I’m traveling with my sister, we like to bring our laptops down to the lobby bar right before dinner. We answer our work emails and have a cocktail."
Gary Leff, co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint
"Some hotel rooms lack power outlets. I always bring a compact power strip so I can recharge all of my devices at once. An air card or MiFi device is indispensable so I can even work in cabs. I actually love staying caught up with work while I'm away because if I don't, all of the relaxation I've accomplished is immediately wiped away by the deluge I receive when I come back. I especially love traveling to Asia. Thanks to a 12-hour time difference, very little is happening the entire day that I'm on vacation, which leaves me free to enjoy without juggling any calls or crises."
Joe Brancatelli, business-travel expert and founder of Joe Sent Me
"You can't beat Skype for staying in touch. I love Media Hopper for keeping track of news from around the world on hundreds of channels. As for 'semblence of a vaction,' unfortunately, I haven't had one in forever. If you cover business travel, you're always looking at airports and hotels and options wherever you are."
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