Brian Hollar writes to me:
You spend quite a bit of time traveling and seem to remain highly productive while doing so. I was wondering if you’d be willing to share your work habits while you are on the road? I’ve read several interviews with you about your work habits, but am particularly interested in what is the Tyler Cowen productivity function while on the go?
My biggest piece of advice is simply to get something written every day. No matter what, whether you are traveling or not. No matter where you are or what you are otherwise doing. The enemy of academic or writing productivity is “days spent doing nothing,” not “I didn’t get enough written today.”
Another piece of advice is to try what I call “the work vacation.” Go somewhere — perhaps somewhere dangerous or disgusting — and simply plan to spend your full, normal work/writing day there. Don’t try to see any sights or to meet any locals. Of course you’ll end up going for walks and the like and see and meet them anyway. But with zero pressure and more spontaneously, and in the meantime think of all that work you are getting done. By the end of the trip it will feel like a full vacation anyway, that’s how silly your memory is.
And to address some of Brian’s specific questions (from later in the email):
I prefer physical books and printed paper to Kindle, and will pack a bigger bag to accommodate them. I always bring a laptop and an iPad, always. I’ll keep up with Twitter, on my iPad, during my downtime while walking around a foreign locale. Most of my writing I do early morning and late evening. I don’t keep any notes about my travels, except what I write on MR. It is always possible to travel without making many plans in advance, except for a few weird holiday seasons (e.g., China) when you shouldn’t be traveling anyway.