Traveling for business was once deemed glamorous and exciting. Only now are we’re understanding the pressures and strain associated with taking your work on the road whilst maximising time efficiency. With work and leisure boundaries blurring, there’s a strong need to stay on top of your game whilst building key relationships all over the globe. Having worked with high profile bankers and high net worth individuals who travel the world over for business, here are my top 6 top tips for maximising your productivity when traveling so you can really hit the ground running.
1. Plan ahead
Remaining productive while you're on the road is about staying one step ahead of the game with planning and preparation. Need WiFi and forgotten to download a document? Laptop low on battery? Neither are problematic if you’ve planned effectively yet both can manifest into unnecessary stress and minimize productivity if you’ve not prepared in advance.
2. Adapt your workload
Adapt your communication and its desired outcome to the type of travel. If you’re driving, make use of time by scheduling important calls using hands free or listen to business podcasts. Use small chunks of time for catch up, transactional calls. Save communication requiring complex, transformational thinking or negotiation for blocks of time where you can dedicate full concentration levels without interruption. Stress occurs when you mistime these. If you’ve ever taken an important call at a time not conducive to the desired outcome, think no coverage, bad reception and not being able to hear the salient points, you’ll remember the stress responses this caused.
If flying, get to the club lounge early and use the peaceful environment as your office. CEO’s read 40 books a year, make sure you always have a business or personal growth book with you. There is never dead time when you’re learning and growing. Reading has been known to turn a delay into enjoyment.
3. Assign the right task to the right moment
Combining focused work that requires your full, undivided attention and waiting to hear live flight departures isn't the most productive use of time. Instead, use that time to work on less intensive work like catching up on emails, then tackle big project work during an uninterrupted flight. I know an author who uses long haul flights purposefully to write his books. His logic being he can stay in his writing zone without interruption for longer. I have also seen, ahead of a flight, a CEO amalgamate board meeting packs in the library of the Virgin Clubhouse. He appreciated the uninterrupted time and the space to get organized – he boarded the flight feeling in control having optimized spare pockets of time otherwise wasted to those who fail to plan and prepare. Shorter flights make for a great excuse to catch up on smaller reports. As with all work, set time limits to achieve a task and work against the clock. After a few flights, reflect on what style works for you, so you can fine tune your work travel mode and maybe even write that book.
4. Commit to staying in the zone
It's not always easy to focus when you’re surrounded by the stress of an airport; from the worry of flying or the panic of potentially missing your flight, traveling can create anxiety. If you’re trying to work whilst feeling anxious or stressed, the quality of your work will reflect this, and you’ll possibly have to rework it later. To be more effective, take personal control of the environment to readdress the chaos. Find inner calmness through deep breathing exercises, inhaling travel essential oils or short bursts of meditation and mindfulness. In doing so, you can create feelings of calm anywhere, even in an airport. Utilising techniques that can quickly get you in the zone is your key to productivity. Train your mind to get into this state regardless of your surroundings and you’ll be more productive at every stage of your trip.
5. No WIFI thanks
Whenever I see people using WiFi on planes, I question why. Not only was it pretty much the only place in the world you could be uncontactable (to your PA’s enjoyment as well as your own) now airlines are installing it, it seems we’re permanently in touch 24/7 – a frightening feeling that can create deeper levels of stress and anxiety as we struggle to switch off from technology. If you’re using un-interrupted blocks of time to get deep project work done, you won’t need the distraction of WIFI anyway. Back to point 3 – plan ahead and think about the task in hand. You can do without WIFI for a few hours. Be thankful for the break. Switch it off and stay in your work zone.
6. Rest easy
With demanding work schedules and international lifestyles, we’ve all experienced the burnout when we deny ourselves the rest we need. True productivity emanates from understanding what your body needs, when and why to help it function at its optimised level rather than feeling guilt. Be kind and pace yourself.
When it comes to making the most of time when 30,000ft up in the air or on the road, these are all approaches that have successfully worked for business travelers. Finding ways to create your own space to think straight amidst all the noise is critical. Your mindset is everything. Next time you travel, look at it as a real opportunity to schedule work and see how productive your next business trip can be. You may be surprised to find it’s more productive then being in the office.