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Full Speed Ahead

Hit The Road, Jack

12. Tools that float. When any of the 70-plus Kids Stuff employees have to go out on the road, they first dip into the office pool of cell phones and laptop computers. Portable office equipment that's available for any traveler saves time for both the road warrior and the home office, Miller says. "They can make the calls they need to while on the run or log in from a hotel room--whatever they need to do," she says. "Those of us back here who need to reach them or get something to them can get it done without a lot of crossed wires."

13. Stay home. A client in Cleveland calls with some new worries, and you instantly dispatch a trusted employee to get out to Ohio and put out that fire. But could you have done it sitting in your office? "There's a knee-jerk reaction to put people on a plane and send them here or there without asking yourself if the trip was necessary," Dugan says. "There's so much technology available now, you can probably do just as much for the client with a teleconference, and you keep from wearing out your staff by not putting them on planes all the time."

Personal meetings may be important, but many businesses seem to be cutting back on them, using sophisticated communications equipment instead. A recent survey of businesses by the National Business Travel Association found that 54 percent of respondents reduced the number of trips their employees make, while 52 percent now rely on videoconferencing, and 35 percent use teleconferencing.

14. Smooth flying. Everybody knows the worst part of business travel is spending time in airports, the great black holes where productivity is concerned. USC's Chase urges anyone who travels for business to become "a self-contained unit, as decoupled from the airline and the airport as possible." This goes beyond traveling with only carry-on luggage, he says, to bringing along a snack or a bottle of water and knowing your gate number before you enter the airport.

The National Business Travel Association takes it one step further by recommending you keep a log of flight numbers, airline customer-service phone numbers and car-rental confirmation numbers. This helps if reservations get lost or computers go down.

15. Finally, take a vacation seriously. There's nothing worse for peace of mind than scheduling family time, a special trip or simply a day of nothing and having phone calls from, to or about work periodically intrude. Vacation time isn't for lazy people; it's one of the best shortcuts to success. Just as athletes know their muscles need a break between workouts, you also need time to rest and rebuild. "We all need time to recharge our batteries," says the University of Pittsburgh's Dugan. "When you go back to work refreshed [from a vacation], your creative juices are flowing again, and you're more effective."

Dugan warns that free time has to be treated as sacrosanct. "Pick up the phone to answer one call, and it's no longer free time. There's a second call you have to make because of that one, and on and on it goes." Think of time off as the best time you spend on your business, Dugan says: "Downtime makes it possible to develop [new ideas] and start thinking strategically and creatively about your business again."

Contact Sources

A Place For Everything, (973) 378-9002, http://www.organizeit.com

Kids Stuff Inc., (330) 492-8090, fax: (330) 492-8290

MediaTracks, (847) 299-9500, fax: (847) 299-9501

National Business Travel Association, (703) 684-0836, http://www.nbta.org

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This article was originally published in the October 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Full Speed Ahead.

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