Staying Productive While on a Business Trip Takes Planning
Part of being an entrepreneur is hitting the road to grow your business at meetings, conferences and presentations all over the world. It's just another part of the job.
While I do enjoy traveling, it’s also tiring and chaotic. So, how can you remain productive when you’re jet-lagged and bouncing around a new city? Well, here the tips that I’ve found most useful.
Preparation is key.
Let’s say that you want to meet with a client or attend conference across the country. You can't just wake-up in the morning of and decide that you’re going to go on a business trip. The meeting has to be scheduled with the client. You also need to make your travel arrangements so that you can make the event on-time.
Simply put, if you want to be a successful road warrior who remains focused and productive then you need to plan, plan and plan again. While this is not an extensive list, here are some the basics that you should address long before you depart;
Book your calendar: Whether you’re making a pitch to investors, having lunch with a client or speaking at an industry event, make sure that you add the event to your calendar. This obviously will remind you of the event. But, more importantly, it will help determine your availability with others and plan your trip accordingly. For example, if you’re meeting with a client at noon on a Tuesday, and you have to take a four-hour flight, then you probably wouldn’t want to a 7am flight that morning. I use Apple Calendar, Google Calendar or Microsoft Calendar for this.
Flights and hotels: Connecting flights may save you a couple of bucks, but they’re much longer. I prefer spurging for direct flights. It saves a ton of time and ensures that I’ll be where I need to be at the right time. Also, find a hotel that’s near your event since it will greatly reduce travel time.
Pack lightly: Create a list of the essential items you need. This way you’re not fumbling through a suitcase full of junk. At the minimum this should be your business attire, gadgets, toliterries and office supplies. If you haven’t already, you should also download travel apps like Tripit, Packpoint, Lyft, Citymapper or Kayak. Personally, I bring an extra set of clothes and keep my must-need items in my carry-on in the off-chance that my luggage gets lost.
Get familiar with destination: Before you leave, do some research on your destination. How far is the airport from your hotel? What’s the best way to get around? What amenities does your hotel prodive? What types of businesses are around? This will help you get around the city more effectively and know what resources are at your disposal.
Put your business in good hands: Appoint an emergency contact in case a fire needs to be put out while you’re away. Your entire team should know who will be in-charge. Add their contact information in your out-of-office message.
Take advantage of your commute: While you’re en route, create a list of your priorities and review your schedule so that you know how you’re going to productively spend your time. If you wait to do this until you arrive at your hotel you may be too exhausted to jot down your business trip goals.
Create lists based around WIFi.
While you can purchase WIFI on the plane, I think it’s a waste of time and money because the spotty quality. So, why try to work on something when the internet speed is slowing you down?
Instead, I create two lists before I go. One list contains all of the things that can only be done with an internet connection. The other is what I can work on without being online. Anything that I can do without internet connectivity is what I work on during my flight.
Commit to your work and stick to a schedule.
The hardest part is often just getting started but just start your work and you’ll quickly get in the zone. If you can’t get in the right work headspace, then at least use this time productively by reading, listening to a podcast or learning a new skill.
Additionally, sticking to your schedule can help you commit to your work. Instead of going on a hiatus, follow your normal schedule as closely as possible, like when you wake-up, exercise, eat and other priority activities. For example, if you’re free first thing in the morning, and that’s when you’re most productive, then continue to use that time for undisturbed work.
Make most of the new location.
Business trips are an opportunity to spark creativity while you’re outside your comfort zone. Also, they can help reduce your daily distractions.
Let’s say you decide to do some work in the hotel lobby. I highly doubt anyone will disturb you. However, if you were at home a family member or employee just might interrupt you while you’re focused on deep work.
On top of the apps that you’ve already downloaded to make traveling easier, make sure that you also use apps that can automate your business. This varies from owner to owner, but search for apps that can put your emails, social media posts, scheduling, billing and even managing your marketing leads while out-of-town.
I would also download apps like Zoom, Skype or Join.me just in case you need to hold a virtual conference with your team. Here are a few top calendar apps to help you even further. I'll put my Calendar app in there!
Organize as you go.
Being exposed to new cultures, ideas and perspectives can really get your mind racing but you’ll probably forget all about them if don’t jot down each one. Use tools like Evernote, Pocket or Trello to capture your thoughts and assign tasks to your team.
Reduce your workload before you depart.
Entrepreneurs always have a million things going on. This makes business travel so stressful. How can I possibly maintain my current workload while on the road? The fact is, you can’t put in a full workday while away.
One solution is to gradually reduce your workload before you depart. This way you aren’t freaking-out about everything that needs to get done either while on the trip or when you return. Instead, focus only on your priorities and goals for the business trip. The easiest way to do this is by only taking on essential commitments and delegating tasks to others.
Don’t neglect your health.
Traveling can take a lot out of you -- especially when you’re jet lagged and eating junk food. As a result, you are going to feel pretty sluggish if you neglect your health.
Make it a point to get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water. Eat healthy and exercise.
Finally, use empty time like during your flight or in-between events to do nothing. Take a nap, meditate, reflect, or explore the city for a bit. Constantly being connected to work is exhausting and we all need time to unplug and recharge. And, traveling presents this opportunity perfectly.