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How You Can Be “Out to Lunch” AND Still be Productive

be productive out of the office

You don’t need to be at work to work.

Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and ever smaller laptops, we can bring a veritable office with us anywhere we journey, whether our destination is a restaurant for lunch or an overseas vacation getaway.

Nowadays, we can be productive literally anywhere — on vacation, out to lunch, relaxing on a park bench or at your favorite restaurant. You can be anywhere, or on your way there, and make observations that can help you with your business. You can also use your time out of the office to refresh yourself and renew your spirit, both of which contribute to creativity and increased productivity.

Vladimir Nabokov, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, addressed [1] the fact that location isn’t a factor in terms of inspiration in his famous “Inspiration” essay:

“One and the same person can compose parts of one and the same story or poem, either in his head or on paper, pencil or pen in hand (I am told there exist fantastic performers who actually type out their immediate product or, still more incredibly, dictate it, warm and bubbly, to a typist or to a machine!). Some prefer the bathtub to the study and the bed to the windy moor — the place does not matter much, it is the relationship between the brain and the hand that poses some odd problems.”

Always Be on the Lookout

When you’re enjoying a tasty lunch at your favorite cafe, take a look around. Is the business using a point of sale (POS) system [2] to accept payments? If you own a retail location, this could inspire you to use such a system at your place of business, thereby streamlining sales transaction productivity.

Use Time Away to Recharge

Have you had a horrible morning with problems arising everywhere that’s left you trembling and feeling helpless? Stop working and take a break and walk in the fresh air. It will help you recharge and it can refresh you so that you’re not only ready, but itching to get back to the office and solve those problems quickly and decisively.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Sometimes, it’s a matter of paying close attention to the world around us. While walking toward a destination, maybe a business luncheon or conference, you view the world around you with both eyes wide open. Depending on your business needs and where you are walking, you could be participating in a visual feast:

Paying close attention to these items can spark marketing ideas for your own projects if you’re present in the moment and taking things in. The simple act of paying attention and being aware of our surroundings can spark innovative ideas that can lead to increased productivity.

Free yourself of the notion that you can only find ideas during office brainstorming sessions.

Observe Others

If you’re at your favorite Thai restaurant for lunch, take a glance around you at the employees and staff, the businesses operations and at others dining in the restaurant. Perhaps you see someone using a new gadget or device that catches your interest?

You may spy something like a 2-in-1 laptop [3] — a laptop that becomes a tablet courtesy of a removable keyboard. This may then prompt you to purchase one for yourself and after doing so, you find that it proves invaluable to you. With such flexibility and mobile capability, you can bring it with you anywhere and find that you get far more accomplished.

Your observation has led you to a new device that ultimately led to increased productivity — and now you’re getting lots of work done when out of the office.

Use a Little Forethought

While planning a vacation, using a little forethought can pay dividends long after you return.

Maybe your wife is dying to finally enjoy a week in Hawaii, but you need to network for some business-related reason. Do a little research. For example, you may find there’s a convention or trade show taking place in Paris. With a little prodding you can get your better half to forget visions of blue waters in exchange for Paris’s Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré’s renowned designer boutiques.

And one afternoon while your spouse is strolling through those boutiques, you can slip away for a few hours to attend that event, finally meeting the freelance graphic artist who can save your neck on a big project.

In a different scenario, you could instead choose to visit an interesting city where an important client lives. You can then leverage your time away to have lunch or dinner with the client, cementing a key relationship that could benefit you and your business for years to come.

If you’re a die-hard, you could even plan a trip somewhere in proximity to several important contacts and make use of numerous dinners, lunches and afternoon cafe meetings. It all depends on your needs and preferences.

And if you genuinely just need to spend your vacation, well . . . vacationing, forgetting all business-related matters and simply enjoying your days relaxing on the beach, sightseeing or eating a delicious meal might be just what you need to recharge your batteries.  You can then return ready to conquer the world — or at least the to-do list waiting in your office.

Put a Little Spring in Your Step

Listening to your favorite music while taking a walk can be beneficial to productivity as well. Music is a great mood influencer. Immerse yourself in something that will get those creative juices flowing, whether it’s Beethoven’s Ninth or your favorite rock anthem.

With the proliferation of ear buds [4] and cloud-based music, you can listen to audio anywhere — during your commute or while taking an afternoon constitutional to get your blood pumping.  Put yourself in the frame of mind you need to be in to let your imagination and creativity get to work for you.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

Digital devices mean you can take care of just about anything — anywhere — at any time.

Returning from vacation and need to go through an entire week’s worth of emails? Not a problem. Just find a nice place to sit down and soak up the sunshine or walk to a nearby park and find a secluded bench. Pull out that smartphone or new tablet of yours and start plowing through those emails, deleting unnecessary ones and crafting quick replies to others.

If a particular email message is significant enough to require some much needed inspiration, put the phone away and take in what’s going on around you. Perhaps the answer is waiting for you — somewhere out there.

Whether it’s courtesy of a tech device, the use of a little foresight, turning inward, making an effort to turn your view outward — or even completely by accident — you don’t always have to be sitting behind a desk to get work done.

It is possible to be out of the office — AND still be productive.

Lunch [5] Image via Shutterstock