For many businesspeople, traveling is a black hole of frustration, stress and work that piles up while you're stuck on a plane or waiting for one. Workplace performance expert, executive coach and writer Jason Womack offers tips to help you stay productive on the ground and in the air (from his book Your Best Just Got Better).
Your plane hasn't even left its gate, and you already feel defeated by another harried day of travel. You hit every traffic light in the city on the way to the airport, waited in a slow, frustrating line to check yourself in for your flight, and went through the usual hassle (and occasional humiliation) required to get through security. To make matters worse, you've just found out that your flight has been delayed for at least another hour-time you'll spend worrying that you won't make your meeting and feeling totally useless because you know you have a mountain of work on your plate that isn't getting done.
But when you travel smart, you can continue to make huge strides with whatever you want to accomplish - you just have to implement the right tactics.
"When you spend the whole day just traveling, you have to catch up on emails, reports, phone calls, and other tasks when you reach your destination," says Womack. "Plus the knowledge of what you have to do later stresses you out all day long." By making some changes to the way you travel, "you can do what you have to do while you're waiting on that plane to take off or while you're in your cab on your way to the hotel, so that you can do what you want to do later."
Invest in important duplicates for travel:
power chargers for your phone, laptop, and other tech devices, as well as a duplicate set of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, grooming products, etc.). Keep these duplicates in your travel bag and you'll never have to worry about forgetting something. You'll save time because you won't have to unplug your office setup and raid your bathroom before every trip.
Be medically prepared.
Always travel with a first aid kit that includes pain relievers, band-aids, cold medicine, prescription meds, etc.
Always leave early!
Always leave earlier than necessary for flights and meetings, and allow more time than you think is necessary to get to the airport. If you show up early, you can use that bonus time to work on something else. And if you run into a problem en route to your destination, you won't have to stress about being on time."
Make sure all travel itinerary info is entered into your cell phone.
Don't underestimate the value of having easy access to confirmation numbers for your hotel, rental car, flight, etc., as well as phone numbers for each of those agencies. If your plans change, you'll have instant contact info.
When booking a flight, think aisle seat.
It makes it easier to reach the overhead bin if you need something in your carry-on, get up and stretch or visit the lavatory.
Always carry cash.
You never know when a bank or credit card problem will cause a card to be denied. Always travel with cash so that you won't be left stranded without a way to pay a cab driver or without money for lunch.
Learn to master the tech you use.
Smartphones, laptops and tablets are best when used to their full advantage. Apps and software can save you tons of time: help you find great places to eat or visit at your destination, help you check in for your flight while you're waiting for a meeting to start or in the cab line at the hotel. Use your cell phone's camera to remember your parking spot number, to ID your rental car and tag number, your hotel room number.
Always be ready.
Organize your carry-on to make sure you easy access the things you need: extra pens, your brainstorming journal, any magazines or articles you've been meaning to read, thank-you notes to write, a list of people you need to call, etc. This way, you'll be ready to work when 15-minute bonus periods come up.
Develop a system for managing receipts.
An envelope in briefcase or purse for receipts speeds up expense reports later.
Have a business card handy.
Traveling offers many opportunities to network...if you're ready to take advantage of them.
Take a break.
You can't focus on work all the time. An occasional break will keep you sharper and more productive. Keep a folder of magazine or newspaper articles that you've been wanting to read in your carry-on. Queue up a video tutorial for a new software program, or just read a good book.