How to Stay Productive While You Travel

I’ve spent the last six months traveling a lot, especially around here in Asia. Singapore is one of the world’s most important air travel hubs with flights to basically everywhere in the world, so it’s easy to travel from here. We also have the world’s most luxurious airport, which is a nice plus. In the last half year, I’ve visited Korea, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia. In the next few months I want to spend at least a few days in Australia, which is a surprisingly short flight away from here.

One of the hardest parts of traveling is staying productive. When I’m on the road, I always love to go and see the sights and experience my destination. Pulling out my laptop can be really tough! But staying productive is an important part of being a digital nomad, so some discipline is required. I’ve spent the last six months struggling to motivate myself, but these days I mostly have it under control.

How? It’s simple – set rules for yourself, and make yourself follow them. Here are the three rules I’ve set for myself that I force myself to follow every day I’m traveling, even if it’s the weekend:

  • At least two hours of head down, focused work
  • At least 15 minutes of writing and reviewing my day
  • Reach Inbox Zero by the end of every two-hour work period

As you can see, my rules aren’t particularly challenging or difficult. This is intentional. If I made them hard to achieve, I would give up without even trying them. Even though I only make myself work for two hours, I often spend 3-4 hours or more in coffee shops and coworking spaces when I’m on the road. The key is to keep things simple and overachieve, not to push yourself and fail.

How do you work when you travel? Do you have a specific set of rules, or do you improvise? I’ve noticed a huge increase in my ability to focus and get work done just by setting simple rules for myself to follow and holding myself accountable for my decisions.

How I Hold Myself Accountable for Fitness

I strongly believe the key to success at getting fit is consistency. I work out hard every day, so I get great results. But if I worked out even harder sometimes and then took other days off to relax and eat unhealthy food, my results wouldn’t be as good, even though I might work harder on some specific days.

Consistency is key. I keep myself consistent by using a really simple system that is apparently used by Jerry Seinfeld for writing (Seinfeld actually denies using this, and says it’s just something he heard about online).

Here’s a link to the system.

It’s very simple. All you do is hang up a calendar on the wall or near your desk and put a big X on the calendar for every day you achieve your goal. Your goal can be something super simple like doing an easy workout, walking for 20 minutes, writing something, or whatever you want to do. I keep my goals simple, like eating three healthy meals per day or working out for one hour in the evening.

If you achieve the goal, you put a big X on the calendar. The next day, you just need to do the same thing. It becomes a challenge to keep the chain going, but the goal is to make sure there’s a big X on the calendar for every single day of the week. I take weekends off and let myself have Saturday and Sunday without any big red X marks on my calendar, since working out and eating clean every day tires me out and I causes me to lose motivation over the long run.

So there – that’s the simple system I use to hold myself accountable for my health and fitness. You can also apply this to doing your work, studying for an exam, learning a language, or anything else. I love this system because of the simplicity and the visual reminder of the importance of achieving your goals that the calendar creates.

Easy Diet Food: Poached Chicken Breasts

Think chicken breasts are boring? For many years I shared your view. Chicken breasts are tough, tasteless and usually a pain to cook in a pan because of their thickness. They’re also amazing diet food with virtually no fat and lots of protein. I’ve been using chicken breasts as part of my diet for the past three months in salads, light meals and just for snacking.

One reason I used to hate chicken breasts is that they’re a total pain to cook. If you bake them in the oven, they always come out tough and dry. I don’t even have an oven at my current condo, so I’ve been forced to improvise, which resulted in me learning how to poach chicken breasts. Wow!Talk about a big difference in taste. Poaching chicken breasts results in them being much softer, having less of a burned, dry feeling and just tasting much better in general. It’s also much better from a diet perspective than pan frying or grilling them with cooking oil.

Today, I’m going to share my simple poached chicken breast method. This is designed for two chicken breasts, each cut in half and poached in a small or medium sized pan.

You’ll need:

  • Two chicken breasts, both with the skin removed
  • Some table salt and black pepper
  • One bay leaf
  • Chicken stock

Start by cutting the chicken breasts in half down the middle. The goal is to make them thinner, which lets you poach them without using as much water. If you have a small frying pan like me, poaching the whole breast just isn’t possible because it comes over the rim of the pan.

After I cut the chicken breasts, I tenderize them (probably not necessary, but why not?) and make sure they’re all mostly the same thickness. Now, place them in your pan and cover them with water so that there’s about a quarter of an inch of water above them. Add a little bit of table salt (1-2 pinches) and grind a little bit of pepper into the water.

Bring the water to a slow boil and add the bay leaf and chicken stock. At this point, you’re basically lightly boiling the chicken breasts in a sort of chicken soup. This gives them amazing taste and avoids the rubbery feeling you get when you just boil chicken breasts in water at a heavy boil. I poach the chicken breasts for about 6 to 8 minutes and then remove them and check that they’re cooked by cutting into them since I don’t have a meat thermometer, but if you have a meat thermometer you can just wait until they reach 165°F in the center.

Slice them into pieces and add them to your salad, or smother in BBQ sauce and pretend you’re no longer on a diet! You can also shred them and use them for tacos or as a simple, high-protein snack. These chicken breasts are easy to cook, versatile and ideal for storing in a plastic container for a healthy lunch on the go. I bring them to my coworking space with me and store them in the fridge to eat for lunch, so I’m not tempted by oily street food. Bon apetit!

Exploring Beautiful Singapore

Singapore doesn’t really have a reputation as a “beautiful” city. When I tell people that I live here, they mostly think of business and trading, which is something the city does have a reputation for. But there’s a lot more to Singapore than most people realize, and the city is beautiful, if you know where to go and what to look for.

Today, I want to showcase some of my favorite places in Singapore to relax, enjoy natural (and sometimes artificial) beauty, and experience what this dynamic city that is, for now, my adopted home has to offer.

Gardens By The Bay

Gardens By The Bay is a 101 acre park development close to the center of Singapore. It’s the most amazing park I’ve ever seen. The whole experience of visiting is hard to describe. Think of your typical city park, then multiply it by 100, then pretend you’re on LSD when you visit. There are three different gardens, and they all range from being quite traditional to being super modern and impressive. I spent over two hours walking around and exploring this space, getting a great feel for the garden and really improving my mood. If you want to escape the business feel of Singapore, which is something I know bugs a lot of people, go here!

Singapore Zoo

I know it might sound silly to list a zoo as a “beautiful” place, but Singapore Zoo is frankly very impressive and a great place to escape from the busy city to. It’s easy to get there on the MRT and the amount of animals and exhibits is amazing, especially when you consider that Singapore really isn’t that big of a city.

I always hesitate to visit zoos in other countries, because sometimes the treatment of animals is really terrible and cruel. However, Singapore Zoo is totally cruelty-free and the people that maintain the zoo seem to really care for the animals there. I was even more impressed than by many zoos and safari parks I’ve been to in the USA and some other countries. If you have kids, bring them here! They will love it!

Orchard Road

Ok, people can excuse me for listing the zoo as a beautiful place, but many people will consider listing Orchard Road as beautiful as an unforgivable sin. For those of you that don’t live here or haven’t visited, Orchard Road is Singapore’s shopping area. It’s a popular street near the city center with super huge shopping malls and more designer stores than you can find anywhere else in Asia.

Is it beautiful? To me it is. I love to shop and can easily spend all day exploring the huge malls on Orchard Road. Since there are lots of great food courts around here, Orchard is also a great place to eat local Singaporean food and international cuisine. Even if you don’t like shopping, strolling up and down the pedestrian-friendly street is a fun way to get a feel for the commercial side of Singapore, which in a way is part of the city’s character and personality.

Where is your favorite place to explore, relax or escape in Singapore?