3 Strategies for Improving Your Productivity on the Road

“Business travel” used to be a euphemism executives from big corporations used instead of “mini-vacation.” But now, this isn’t so much the case.  Technology has changed the ways in which we all work.  Not only are more of us able to use mobile devices and internet connectivity to actually be productive while travelling, more of us are travelling to being with.  Even small- to medium-sized businesses and sole proprietors are on the road – making on-the-road productivity a concern for professionals at all levels.

Travelling is stressful enough by itself – let alone travelling while trying to juggle work at the same time.  Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your time on the road and to keep any “roadblocks” you encounter to a minimum.

Stay Organized

This one seems like a given, but for some reason, even people who keep the tidiest offices can turn into schlubs when they hit the road.  Thoughts turn to sun tan lotion, music and sightseeing – and our brains forget that we’re actually supposed to be working as well!

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.  By keeping everything neat and organized, you can avoid unnecessary delays and those crisis moments when you realize you didn’t pack something you desperately need.  The trick, however, is to start early.  A week before your trip, plan what you’re going to take and why.  You may even want to start a checklist as you go in order to collect all of your in-passing thoughts in one place.

Packing properly is essential.  Bring everything you need, but don’t overestimate.  Computers, cellphones, chargers, contact information and clothes are all important; but from there, pair it down to the essentials.  If you’ve got your smartphone, you might not need a separate camera.  If you’ve got documents on both your laptop and in print, consider leaving the hard copies at home.  If you’re going away for just a day or two, everything should fit in a carry-on bag – even if you’re not going on a plane.

In addition to your packing checklist, start a to-do list as well.  This list should have everything you need for your trip on it in a sequential order so that you don’t get distracted and stray from your course.  Include any pre-travel essentials on your list, but also make notes regarding your agenda during the trip and what you need (or want) to do upon arriving at your destination.

Stay Connected While Commuting

Travel time doesn’t have to be downtime.  With cellular wireless connections, airplane/airport wi-fi and internet connectivity in your hotel rooms, there are plenty of ways to keep in touch with the troops back home while you’re on the road.  (Figuratively, of course.  If you’re driving, keep you mind –and eyes – on the road and your hands on the wheel.  The phone can wait.  If it can’t, consider hiring a car service or taking a cab instead.)

If you haven’t yet, consider switching your office’s collaborative work projects to a cloud-based system, such as Google Drive or Dropbox.  With these tools in place, you can access critical documents and information, no matter where you are in the world.

Also, remember that travel time can be a great opportunity for networking.  If you’ve got a list of email leads or phone calls that are awaiting your communications, follow up while waiting for your rental car, stuck on the shuttle or in the cab on your way to the hotel.  And if you’re at an airport, hotel or other travel hub, reach out to those around you.  Chances are you’ll be able to spot someone either in your industry or in a complimentary one, so you never need to miss an opportunity to make a new friend (or a new lead).

Shell Out for Better Hotels

Travelling on the cheap has become something of an industry in and of itself.  From cheap hotel rooms to cheap airfare – and everything else associated with life on the road – “cheap” seems to have become the operative word.  But when you’re travelling for business, cheap may not always be the best option.

As a general rule, better hotels often offer:

  • Free amenities
  • Business centers
  • Free wi-fi
  • Printing, scanning and copying services
  • Better beds (which equate to better rest)
  • Pools and spas that allow you to unwind and recharge
  • Breakfast, cocktails or lounges so that you can eat, mingle or just relax

Even if you’re on a budget, you can find middle-of-the-road facilities that offer many (or all) of these features pretty much anywhere across the country.  While they may cost you a little more than the side-of-the-road motels, you’ll definitely have better experience – which will contribute greatly to the success of your overall business trip.

Finally, remember that even though your trip is for business, you may still be time to find time to have a little “mini-vacation” as well.  Just don’t let your productivity suffer as a result or you’ll wind up even more behind when you eventually return to the office!

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