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Stay More Productive on the Road

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Many of us who workshift travel a lot, perhaps more than we’d like. Although I had thechris-brogan-plane.jpg pleasure of a summer pretty much free from business travel, things are starting to ramp up again for fall. And while I love the opportunity to meet with clients and colleagues live and in person, I hate the drain traveling puts on my productivity. It’s just not easy getting day-to-day work done from airports, taxis and hotels. Throw in delays, bad food, sick seat mates and time away from family and friends, and business travel is a necessary burden, not a pleasure.

But I have found ways to mitigate the impact. Here are a few friendly tips:

  • Designate a carry-on bag that you take on every trip, and leave the things you know you need on the road in the bag. In my experience, these should include business cards, noise-canceling headphones, ear plugs, hand lotion and/or no-wash anti-bacterial gel, a notebook and pen, and breath mints.

  • Invest in extra chargers for your cell/smart phone and PC. Then, leave them in that designated carry-on bag, so you always have power for your critical business tools.
  • Pack healthful snacks for your trip–as many as possible to cover you for the duration. I like nuts, dried fruit, pretzels and hard cheeses. Then, I toss in some fancy chocolates, for a late-night treat. I also keep an empty water bottle on hand, and fill it when I’m past security. This lets me get smart calories and a reliable energy boost, without the crash of processed foods–and without the high airport and mini-bar prices. And it guarantees I won’t go hungry or thirsty on the flight if we’re stuck on the tarmac for hours on end.
  • Check into your flight from home or the hotel, and print your boarding pass ahead of time. (Most hotels will let you do this free in their business center, or at a computer/printer by the front desk.) Also, print out directions to the hotel and any other locations you’ll be visiting, and make sure you let the hotel know you’ll be late checking in if, in fact, you will be.
  • Request a room with no connecting door. TV noise and loud voices carry in the space underneath the doors, so you’re more likely to get some peace and quiet with a solid wall between you and your neighbors.
  • Try to get in a workout whenever you can, whether that means hitting the hotel health club or going for a run in the neighborhood before your first–or after your last–meeting. Stretch in your room, and take the opportunity to walk whenever you can, even if (especially if) you’re in front of clients all day.
  • Plug your devices into an outlet whenever you can.  There’s nothing worse than running out of juice mid-trip, and not being near a power source when you need (or simply have the time) to get work done. Consider investing in an extra battery for your phone and PC, too (and then leave them in your travel bag).
  • Make a list of tasks you can reasonably expect to get done on your trip during your down time, but don’t be too ambitious. Sometimes, it’s nice to take advantage of being disconnected from the regular slew of calls and e-mail–a nice benefit of being on the road. 

What tips have you found that are useful to YOU for staying more productive while traveling?

Photo by: Chris Brogan

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  • Melissa

    Great post! I love the tips to bring snacks. I am always stuck trying to find something relatively healthy that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
    I would also add to bring a charged ipod and a good book for when your laptop eventually dies. =)