Dear productivity aficionados, today we have a special treat. Dr. Haney Mallemat (@CriticalCareNow) is our guest. However, he has decided to go rogue and approached ‘how to work smarter’ from a very different angle. We are thrilled he did. Dr. Mallemat is a rising star in the world of critical care and emergency medicine. He started off by securing board certifications in Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Critical Care, and Echocardiography. Now, only 5 years out of his Critical Care fellowship, Dr. Mallemat already has a place among the FOAM greats and a position as Assistant Professor at University of Maryland. Those who have listen to him talk will know he has the rare ability to take complex topics and break them down into understandable concepts. This has earned him the “Outstanding Teaching Award” two years in a row (2012-2013) at his home institution. You can hear his great talks on the RAGE Podcast, EMRAP, Ultrasound Podcast, PHARM Podcast, to name a few. However, it’s not all podcasting. Dr. Mallemat also lectures both nationally and internationally, and today he graciously shares his wisdom about how to get from point A to point B, with style.

  • Name: Haney Mallemathaney mallemat headshot Small
  • Location:  Baltimore, MD
  • Current job:  ½ Emergency Physician, ½ Intensivist
  • One word that best describes how you work: Fervently
  • Current mobile device: iPhone 5s / iPad mini
  • Current computer: MacBook 13”

I am a huge fan of ALiEM’s How I Work Smarter series, so I was elated when Lauren Westafer (@Lwestafer) and my mentor, Chris Doty (@PoppasPearls) nominated me to give my take on “How I work smarter”. There’s only one problem, so many incredibly smart people have already written extensively about how they work smarter I don’t think I have anything groundbreaking novel to add. Instead I’ve asked Dr. Lin if I can write about “How I Travel Smarter”. Let me explain…

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling over the past few years. Traveling is a lot of fun but I also have to stay productive while on the road; especially when some destinations require a day’s worth of travel (e.g., #SMACC Gold Coast). One of my greatest challenges to staying productive is being able to fit everything I need into my small travel bag (see below). I also don’t have an office, so I have to bring my office with me everywhere I go. So here are some tips and tricks that I’d like to share with you in no particular order of importance.

Packing for the Trip:

travel smarter
Dr. Mallemat’s Travel Gear (click for larger image).
He has no financial disclosures with regard to any of the products named.

  • Travel Bag – Pic Ref: A 
    • Let’s start off with my (small) travel bag: I like to keep my workbag as small as possible. This forces me to bring only essential items and allows me to be compact, practical, and efficient. My bag is by InCase and is perfect for me, but there is no shortage of choices out there. If I’m traveling internationally and I want to bring a few extra things to the plane (e.g., sweater, food, etc.) I opt to go with a messenger style bag with good padding for my laptop just in case it gets tossed around.
  • Pencil Case (and no, it’s not for pencils) Pic Ref: B
    • This is the cheapest item in my travel bag, but it is the MOST essential. A simple pencil case is a good place to store all your wires, cables, adapters, extra batteries, flash drive etc. Having this case ensures that everything is in one place and doesn’t clutter the rest of my bag with wires. Plus, you can add a little bit of your own flair and style (did someone say Hello Kitty?)

Mobile Computing:

  • Multiple Desktop Feature (Mission Control in OS X; sorry Windows users, this is for MAC only)
    • In my home office I use multiple computer screens to multi-task and get work done. I’ll have one computer screen with Keynote or PowerPoint, a second screen with a video editing program, and a third screen with a web browser. This allows me to see all my work at the same time. Since I can’t bring all these computer screens on a plane, I use the desktop feature of MAC OS X. This feature allows me to have multiple programs open on different “virtual screens” that I can easily toggle between. If you’re good with the MAC’s trackpad, then it only requires one “swipe” to get between “desktops”. If I’m not making any sense here then please watch the video in the link provided and everything should become clearer.
    • If you prefer having physical screens, then try Duet. This allows you to hook up your iPhone or Ipad up to your Mac and turn it into another display. I’ve been using this a lot recently and I love it. Pair it up with a Mountie and this will turn your laptop into a powerful workflow device.
  • Large Capacity Memory Stick or Portable External Hard-Drive – Pic Ref: F
    • More and more of our data is being stored in the cloud however you don’t always have access to the cloud… even though you may be flying through them. I always have a physical backup of my all my lectures, important articles, music, movies, etc. I recommend investing in a high-capacity portable external hard drive. I use this one, which has a 1 TB capacity. Don’t want to lug around a portable drive, well how about a high capacity flash-drive? I just bought a 128 GB capacity stick for only $50! Now if you’re saying “I’ll just keep everything stored locally on my hard drive” you cannot always trust your computer (ask me how I know that). I always keep my important information on an external drive so I can access my work, even if is from someone else’s computer should my computer malfunction or crash.
  • Travel Router Pic Ref: L
    • Some hotels only allow one device to link to their network at a time, but this is a huge problem if you have multiple devices that need wifi access. So when I travel, I always bring a portable travel router I use the Satechi Smart Travel Router. I like this router for several reasons:
      1. It becomes a “hot spot” that all my devices connect to.
      2. It has a port for USB charging so I don’t need an extra charger to lug around.
      3. It is also has an international converter built in.

Three features in one? C’mon… that’s pretty awesome.

  • Portable USB Docking Station with Multiple Ports Pic Ref: E
    • My MacBook pro only has two USB ports and this is usually not enough. So I have a USB docking station what allows me to use multiple peripherals. Docking stations are small and cheap, but are essentials if you have a lot of peripherals to plug in when you travel.

Staying Charged

  • Fluxbot Mobile Charge Pic Ref: K
    • Batteries on peripheral devices (e.g., iPhones and iPads) can deplete very quickly while traveling so it’s important to always have backup energy. There are many portable battery options, but I found one recently that really impressed me, the Fluxmob. This battery plugs directly into the wall to recharge itself, but the really neat thing here is that it also doubles as an adapter for charging the device directly. This means you don’t have to bring both an external battery and a charging block adapter. The Fluxmob is also really small so it only takes up little space in my bag.
  • Batteries Pic Ref: N 
    • There are lots of reasons to bring a couple of extra new batteries with you on your travels, here’s two reasons:
      1. Batteries will fail you and you should be ready for that.
      2. Other people’s batteries will fail them, and you’ll be a hero when bailing them out with a fresh set of batteries.

Killing It at the Venue

  • Bring Multiple Versions of your Presentations
    • If you are traveling to give a talk, always have multiple versions of your presentations prepared prior to leaving (this is yet another reason to have lots of physical storage available). All the major presenter programs allow you to export native files to various file formats and having this file redundancy is essential and will save you when you least expect it. For example, I prepare for disaster by creating multiple versions of the same presentation. I make a version in Keynote ’09, Keynote 6, PowerPoint, and PDF. Keynote even allows you to export a file into a QuickTime format; this is a video file with all the animations preserved. Having extra versions allows me the flexibility of not using your computer for the presentation should you need to use the computer at the conference or if your computer crashes prior to the presentation. The worst-case scenario is having a PDF version that you can flip through because all computers have a PDF viewer. Another major reason to have all your presentations backed up is that you never know when another speaker will drop out and you’ll be called upon to give an emergency “fill in” talk. It is for this reason that I always carry all my talks with me at all times (and in multiple file formats). People remember the person who comes through in a pinch and you’re sure to be invited back.
  • Wireless Remote Pic Ref: G
    • If you are presenting at a conference you should always bring your own wireless remote. Many presenters rely on the conference organizers to provide all the necessary equipment required for their presentations. This strategy works out fine until it does not, so be prepared for anything and that’s why I always bring my own wireless remote loaded with brand new batteries. I use the R800 by Logitech for several reasons: 1) it has a great range so I can walk around the room without loosing the signal, 2) it has green laser which is easier for people to see than a red laser, 3) it has a built in count-down timer that you can set and vibrates when you have 5, 2, and zero minutes. The R800 fits comfortably in my hand and is very lightweight for travel.
  • Video Adapters Pic Ref: M
    • If you are presenting at a conference you should never rely on the local venue to have the necessary adapters for your computer. Consider packing your own VGA adapter for your computer. I also recommend an HDMI adapter because many venues are switching to projectors with HDMI inputs. If you are using a MAC, learn how to set it up when it is plugged into the AV equipment.
    • If you are using your own computer (especially a Mac) I suggest you become a pro at setting up your computer with the projector because some AV people do not know how to troubleshoot through every computer. Search YouTube for your particular computer.
  • Never Be Forgotten. Bring Business Cards Pic Ref: J
    • Email, blogs, and social media are the new business cards for networking, but I still have some business cards. Someone once explained to me the power of someone finding a business card in a suit or bag months after meeting the person. People tend to remember those with business cards and I still think there is something special about giving someone your card. You don’t need anything fancy or cute on the card, just simply your name, email, twitter handle, and institution. These are very cheap but they’ve worked for me.

Resting Up: 

  • Noise-Canceling Headphones  Pic Ref: C 
    • Let’s face it you can’t always predict how quiet the plane, train, or automobile will be and there will always be someone on a cell phone telling the entire plane his or her business. A good pair of noise cancelling headphones is essential when traveling. Not only will these allow you to get some high quality work done, but they also allow you to catch up on some restful sleep. If you haven’t tried noise-cancelling headphones before, they really do work. Many noise cancelling headphones are not only good for blocking out sound but their audio is pretty good too when listening to podcasts or music. There are lots of brands and options to choose from including in ear vs. over the ear headphones, wired versus Bluetooth, rechargeable versus disposable battery, so I recommend heading to a store where you can try these on and see what sounds and works best for you.
  • Blindfold and Earplugs Pic Ref: D
    • It is important to be productive while traveling, but getting rest is just as important. I always pack a pair of ear plugs and a blind fold to block out the outside world. Even the best noise canceling headphones will allow some sound in, but with both the ear plugs and the headphones I never hear a thing and the blindfold keeps out the light and lets me sleep.

Who would you love for us to track down to answer these same questions?

For How I Work Smarter:
  1. Ben Smith (@UltrasoundJelly)
  2. Sam Ghali (@em_resus)
  3. Michael Winters (@critcareguys)

For How I Travel Smarter:

  1. Mike Stone (@bedsidesono)
  2. Scott Weingart (@emcrit)
  3. Mike Mallin (@UltrasoundPod)
  4. Matt Dawson (@UltrasoundPod)

Benjamin Azan, MD

Benjamin Azan, MD

Emergency Physician
Lincoln Medical Center
Founder/Editor of
Benjamin Azan, MD


ED attending in NYC, #FOAMed enthusiast, #MedEd, founder of
Benjamin Azan, MD

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