Reboot Travel vs. Pause Travel

by Venkat on March 10, 2014

I find that traveling is one of the most disruptive things in my ability to keep my workflows in reasonable order. Over the years, I’ve oscillated between two modes of travel, which I call reboot travel and pause travel.

Reboot travel in the ideal case involves getting to Inbox Zero, clearing all pending time-bound work at your home base, achieving zen mind, and then rebooting into a sort of minimalist “travel mode.”

Pause mode involves doing none of the above, but just taking care of any urgent red-flag home-base items that you are already aware of, mentally hitting “pause” on everything else, and heading out, relying on Internet connectivity to keep you going with only minor interruptions and delays and breakdowns. In pause mode, I don’t even bother to set an out-of-office (OOO) message.

In recent years, I’ve found myself increasingly favoring pause mode. I haven’t used an OOO autoresponder/voicemail message in 5-6 years. It’s slightly risky, since hitting pause without assessing the  state of your workflow means you could suddenly find yourself on the hook for doing things you can’t do on the road. But the subset of tasks that fits that description appears to be shrinking every year. If your trips are short, and you can get to a scanner, you’re covered for 99% of cases. The set of things which can’t wait till you get home and require non-digital actions is pretty small. And increasingly, you can live with the cost of delay.

I’ve come to view my workflow as a patient who is always on the brink of a medical emergency and must always be stabilized to some extent to be moved. But the patient has been slowly improving in health over the last couple of decades, thanks to better tools (not to me getting any wiser or better at staying away from the edge of chaos). So it takes less work to stabilize the patient, and the consequences of being sloppy are getting less dangerous.

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