This Road Warrior Shares Business-Travel Productivity Tools
Technology has given us the ability to grow any business to a global level quickly, with remote workers around the world and multi-site operations at our fingertips. Still, despite our digital connectivity, global and multi-site operations still require travel -- in some cases, a lot of it.
And that travel, when not properly planned or managed, can seriously impact not only the productivity of the person traveling, but everyone whose work is linked to that individual.
I myself travel pretty extensively around the world for work, to speak at conferences and of course for leisure activities. Because I run a handful of companies, my team is distributed across several time zones. We have devs in Europe and Romania, marketing in Sydney and Austin and business partners in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Sydney, Melbourne and London.
Being involved in four startups can make things more than just a little crazy at times.
But the key to my sanity is knowing my end goal for each business. That helps me prioritize my tasks and wipe things from the plate that aren’t critical. While a lot of professionals try to do everything, all of the time, my team does the opposite.
We focus on one to three things each week that are big needle movers, and everything else gets set aside. Given how we bootstrap, resources are at a premium. I fill in the gaps because I love getting my hands dirty. I make sure I’m on at least one or two projects each week, including coding, writing, wireframing and more. It’s not the most productive use of my time, but it keeps me sharp.
Since I’m so involved, when it comes time to travel, I need tools to stay productive. Here are some business-travel productivity tools I recommend that help me stay on top of things and keep me motivated:
1. Google everything
Having a lot of remote teams can create snags for collaboration, so we lean heavily on Google for a lot of applications. This is true for file storage, as well as Google Docs, for reviewing and working together on content.
It’s hard enough keeping track of meetings when you’re physically in an office and working with different teams. But keeping track gets more intense when your team is scattered around the globe and you’re traveling. I rely on Pick.co for scheduling all of my meetings. It’s made it incredibly easy to coordinate meetings with all of my teams, even when I'm traveling.
3. Uber-type services
I love using Uber to get around whenever I travel. It’s just a lot simpler than the headache around booking a car rental and hoping the car is even there and available when I land. I also don’t pay for parking or valet services anywhere -- an extra bonus. There’s no Uber where I live in Austin, so when I’m home, I like to use Fasten or Wingz.
It’s not often that I get time to actually sit at a desk in front of a PC and write content. When I’m traveling, I use Evernote to do quick note-taking on content ideas, create outlines and even write complete blog posts.
I try to stay involved and personally engaged on my social channels as often as I can, but I don’t like silent periods and want to make sure I’m always sharing great stuff with my followers. I use Buffer (along with Quuu) to curate great content and keep it rolling out to my followers.
My smartphone is probably my most important tool and resource when I travel. I use it to tackle all of the basic things I can to keep projects and communication flowing for my team. That way, my travels -- even when I'm out of contact for a short amount of time -- don’t create roadblocks for my team.
7. Project integration
Eliminating roadblocks requires using apps that let me stay on top of projects. I use Asana for all project management, along with Trello to monitor and manage content creation with the teams. The fact that these can be easily accessed via mobile, and also integrate with Slack (also mobile), means I can easily go through Slack to see the progress and access any tools I need.
I absolutely love Slack for its simplified communication. It’s helped eliminate a lot of endless email threads, and it’s super easy to scroll through, to catch up on topics while I’m traveling. Having all my teams segmented into channels keeps conversations easy to manage and locate, and it takes no time to pop in and check on things when time allows for it.
9. Dinners/local meetings
Traveling can make it hard to network digitally and maintain relationships. That’s why I started hosting dinners and meeting up with other professionals and influencers when I travel. It’s a chance to meet people in person, share ideas, network and build relationships. You have to sit down and eat at some point every day, right? So you might as well leverage that time.
Here are two great books to help you implement this dining strategy in your travel routine:
- Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins, by Jason Gaignard
- Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a time, by Keith Ferrazzi
There’s always a little bit of downtime while traveling where there’s no work to be done, or when I simply can’t get access. I take advantage of these times to relax and unwind, or learn something new, to pass the time. Whether you're on a plane or in a car, traveling is often the time when you can listen, undisturbed, to audiobooks or read via a Kindle. Give it a try.