Want to hear something ironic? I’m writing this blog post while listening to my dog…
It’s back on, my friends! We are all back to travelling for business, and our calendars are all filling up very quickly! We can lose track of our priorities quickly unless we find some ways to stay on top of our workloads and responsibilities.
As busy conference professionals and suppliers, it seems we are ALWAYS travelling to and from meetings, conferences and trade shows. When we’re out of the office, the world is still turning and we still get inundated with emails and calls from clients and suppliers. Staying productive while travelling may seem like an oxymoron – where can we possibly find the time and the energy to be productive when on the road? You’d be surprised!!
While travelling is inevitable, here is a list of tips for staying productive while travelling that will help keep you on top of your workload and strategic planning:
- Clear your schedule! – Many of us schedule time to build business, follow up on business and strategize. When you’re out of the office, your time to devote to these activities is limited. Clear the decks and reschedule this strategy time for when you’re back in the office.
- Schedule your return-to-office time! – Take a look at your calendar for when you’re back in office, and block out chunks of time to address your inbox and your work trip follow-up. Those two tasks tend to be the most overwhelming, so be intentional about addressing them when you’re home but blocking out your calendar to other distractions.
- Maximize your plane time! – Whether your goal while in transit is to read a book that’s collecting dust on the corner of your desk, catch up on a few episodes of your favourite Netflix show, or tackle a strategic project, make use of your downtown on the plane or train to tackle your priorities! I often use “plane time” to draft blog posts and social media posts; activities that don’t require wifi for the entire piece.
- Out-of-office email – Always enable your out-of-office email when you know you can’t check emails for more than a day. Have a backup person at the office as a contact, but make sure they are in the office! It’s crazy how many out-of-office backup people are also out of the office (things that make you go “hmmm”…..) Another fun out-of-office tip? Tell them where you are!!! Perhaps your contact wants to learn more about where and who you’re going to see. Create an open door for conversation and dialogue with your contact by teasing them about where your travels are taking you!
- Wifi on flights – Many flights now have the option to use wifi, and if you are desperate to stay caught up I highly recommend it. For myself, if it’s not a desperate need, I use the time on planes to tend to strategic projects outlined in point #2, and enjoy the peace that comes with no laptop or phone notifications. Many of my best blog posts were written on the plane, with no distractions!
- Disconnect! – Your out-of-office is on, your voicemail forwarded, and your husband making dinner for the kids. Use this travel time to tackle those projects you’ve been putting off because you’ve been “too busy” and distracted by work and life. Some of my best strategic planning has been done when I’ve been away from the office. Take advantage of the free evenings and downtime between meetings to tend to those passion projects.
- Use it as a mini business retreat – I go on a 2-day MeTreat every year where I work on my business plan, business ideas and map out my goals for the year. Can you tack on an extra day to your business trip for a mini business retreat?
- Eat, sleep, exercise – Try to maintain consistency in your eating, exercise and sleeping patterns. This will keep your brain alert during your prime productivity times of the day.
- Keep your morning routine! – Do you have a morning routine? Stay in routine by getting into your natural rhythm as much as possible. Do your meditation, read a book, and get in your morning run or yoga. By staying in routine as much as possible on the road, you’re setting your body and mind to be on top of your game! No time for an hour morning routine? Scale back your routine activities and fit in a “mini-me” reset each morning.
- Map your meetings out in advance – Try to group your business meetings geographically, so you spend less time travelling to/from meetings all day.
- A well-organized laptop bag – Keep your laptop bag stocked with all the essentials. Pack some nutritious snack bars, pens, paper, post-it notes, external phone charger and band-aids. Ladies, throw an extra pair of nylons in your laptop bag as well :) You can view my full packing checklist here. – if you are renting a car, pack a phone holder that attaches your phone to the dashboard or windshield. This makes for easy reference to your maps while driving around a strange city. Save even more stress by getting an Uber account. It can often be cheaper to use Uber rather than rent a car and pay for hotel parking.
- Headset for phone calls – Pack a headset for hotel room phone calls (I use Plantronics, love it!) and for the car for hands-free working.
- Give yourself a break! – Working while travelling can also mean a break from both the office and home life. Enjoy the time you have to yourself! Pack a good book, go for a walk, try out the new trendy restaurant, do some shopping! In a few short days, you’ll be back in the thick of things and reflecting on your time away. Doing your thing while travelling connects you to your home life!
Travelling for work can often be exhausting. By incorporating these productivity and healthy tips into your trip, you’re well on your way of making the most of your travel plans and staying productive while doing it.
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