Back in 2012 when Pat Routa and myself created Duo, we did so with a belief that you didn’t need a physical office to be a successful business. Offices are full of distractions, politics and drama. None of which we wanted. Maybe the idea was too radical in 2012, we certainly struggled with people believing we weren’t a “real” agency. Ya know, ping pong tables, baristas, etc. So about 3 years ago we signed our lease on our space at 20525 Center Ridge Road in Rocky River. It’s a wonderful space and it has indeed allowed our business to grow. We use that space as a place for us to create, have long strategy sessions and the occasional client meeting or two. But ever since COVID-19 hit the United States and Ohio went under a stay home order, we’ve been to that office exactly 3 times. So we were right back to where we started, working remote and loving it. We have written a post or two over the years about our favorite tools and how to find success working from home.
So here we are in July 2020. My family had planned a big road trip to see a bunch of the United States that we’ve never seen before. The planning of such trip started in very early 2019, or maybe even late 2018. We had a family member graduating high school and they live in Phoenix. So we set our eyes on summer 2020. COVID has certainly changed things up a bit, but we are still planning on making the trek. We are mask-wearing, hand sanitizing folks in my family. Social distancing is pretty easy when you have 3 little kiddos. We stay plenty busy just at home. So on the road we will be making minimal stops on our way to Phoenix and when we do stop we will be doing our very best at social distancing, mask wearing and sanitizing often.
So this brings me back to the original point. As an agency owner / a small business owner, we don’t exactly have the luxury of paid time off. Especially when taking a road trip that will span 22 days. So how the heck am I going to continue leading the agency and enjoy my time? With lots of planning and a great travel partner of course.
Here are the 5 ways I’ve prepared for this trip:
A set itinerary.
We know exactly how long our drives **should** be and where we will be staying. I have this set in a Google Doc and on my calendar so my team always knows where we are at. We will have to do a little time zone management here and there, but for the most part, we are all on the same page. Luckily we do have a built-in 1 week stay with our family, which will help me take meetings and calls easily.
The right equipment. This is the key.
The last thing I want to do is set my laptop on my lap for 4-5 hours during a drive. It will be uncomfortable and I wouldn’t be able to focus. That’s why I picked up this lap desk from Amazon. It’s comfortable, has room for a mouse, cell phone holder and an ergonomic wrist support. And better yet? It fits perfectly in the passenger seat of our car.
My cell phone has unlimited data with hotspot functionality. I intend to use that primarily as my internet connection. If that fails, our new (to us) van has the ability to be turned into a wifi hotspot. Multiple options available!
Power? Another trick of owning a newer minivan. A real (aka normal) plug. I can have my computer plugged in the entire time if I want to.
Last but not least, a good pair of headphones. I use Apple Airpods, but anything that would let you focus on your work would be perfect.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Both with my team at the agency and the relationship with my wife. My wife understands I can’t really take a ton of time off. So the three, eight hour drives on the way to Arizona will be split up. I drive for four, she drives for four. Have you ever really looked at how productive you can be in a four hour day? It’s incredible.
Staying focused on the most-important tasks.
Two of my team members got me the High Performance Planner by Brendon Burchard. Whenever I know I will be working in short, focused periods of time, I lean on that planner as much as possible. To me it’s key. I put down my most important tasks, try to schedule them in to time slots and so much more. If you are still struggling with the work-from-home work/life balance, I highly recommend this planner.
What do I mean by this? Many years ago, when we were making the decision to be very anti-office, we were adamant about choosing tools that would allow us to work from anywhere, even if we weren’t on our normal machines. Be sure to check out this post for our favorite tools of the trade.
So, my goal is to write a daily update to this trip as we go through it. We leave July 9th. I hope that by writing these posts you can truly understand why staring at the beauty of the Rocky Mountains or the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park is always better for the soul than a cubicle.