How to Network and Be Productive on the Road

August 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travel can have a lot of perks and benefits: seeing new cities, meeting new people, gaining new knowledge, and closing important deals. But one of the unspoken downsides is the feeling of being cut off from what’s going on at the office and at home. Those feelings can lead to productivity paralysis, but there are ways to maintain and even increase your productivity while on the road.

Network with people as a way to stay productive on the road, and lay the groundwork for future relationships.Network. It may be an informal hotel happy hour or the opening reception at a conference, but meeting new people in these environments often has unexpected positive results. You might learn about a new line of products or meet a potential client, or strategize about working the vendor floor at a trade show. This casual collaboration will stimulate your productivity and simultaneously boost your serotonin (one of the brain’s chemicals responsible for happiness).

Schedule downtime. Restorative activities such as a massage, spa treatment, a quick workout, or even a leisurely walk can help clear your mind and allow you to shed stress and refocus. Team building activities can enhance productivity by providing an opportunity to decompress from the treadmill of work, work, work.

Use flight time. But not in the way you think. Choose uninterrupted mental space by not logging on to the plane’s wifi as a way to relax. Read a book for enjoyment or catch a much-needed nap. Or if you have to stay productive, work offline on projects that require intense focus. Then you’ll arrive either refreshed or with a sense of accomplishment. Both are needed for productivity.

Attend a meetup for work or your hobbies. In most big cities, there are meetups and group gatherings for just about any topic. If you’re a writer, there may be writing events in the city you’re visiting. Or business networking groups. Or industry association chapters. Check out Meetup.com or your favorite group’s website to see if there are any meetings going on while you’re in town.

Choose a home away from home. Staying at the same hotel chain wherever you travel allows you to acclimate to a new city faster and relax more thoroughly in what becomes a known environment. You know the brand, you know the system, and you even know what the room will look like. You’ll feel at home no matter where you go. And if they have any networking happy hours, try to spend an hour meeting your fellow travelers.

Phone home. While you’re away on business, you might have a tendency to experience tunnel vision. Don’t cut yourself off from colleagues who may need you to touch base so you stay up-to-date on the work they’re doing on your behalf. The same goes for friends and family. While you’re working so hard to be productive on the road, they’re making decisions that may require your input or having experiences they want to share. There’s comfort in connection, so schedule a time to check in with your significant others when you’re not rushed or preoccupied.

Making these choices while you travel will allow you to make the most of your time away and hit the ground running on all fronts once you return.

What do you do to stay productive or to network with others? Let us hear from you in the comments below,on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: shanegaughan (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

Travel Top Five: Traveling in Comfort

February 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Over the years, we’ve talked about traveling light, being efficient, and not taking things you can live without. But that doesn’t mean living a spartan, uncomfortable existence, where you can’t wait for your trip to be over. We still want you to be comfortable.

Everyone has personal standards for comfort. For some, it’s their pillow from home, or wearing their favorite jeans. Often, business travelers have certain standards and efficiencies they should maintain, so curling up on the plane in sweatpants with a pillow is probably not a good idea.

Here are five ways you can be more comfortable when you travel, without looking too out of place or sacrificing packing space and efficiency.

Let’s start with shoes. You’ll be on your feet — through security, through the terminal, through the parking lot, and through the lobby to your client — a good bit of the day. The best way to stay comfortable is to invest in comfort that will carry you, literally, through your trip: get a pair of walking shoes. There are plenty of stylish options that look just as professional, and your feet will thank you.
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7 Ways to Stay Productive While Traveling

January 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

All that time you spend waiting for your flight, sitting on the plane, and commuting to your hotel can be productive time instead of wasted time. You just need to develop a strategy and create the proper mindset. Here are some tips to help you stay productive while traveling.

Plan ahead. You may be geared up to empty your inbox, but if your laptop’s not charged, you aren’t going to make much headway. Be sure to download any documents you need before you leave in order to accomplish a task you’ve relegated to be completed en route. This eliminates the need for wifi or using your mobile hotspot.

A woman typing on a laptop, presumably staying productive while traveling.

Make sure your laptop battery is charged before you ever leave the house!

Use the time you have wisely. If you’re in a crowded gate or you have a limited amount of time, now is not the time to read through correspondence or memos that require your full attention. Choose some B-level items to check off your to-do list, like those articles you’ve meant to skim for the last six months, and you’ll actually be more effective than if you try to tackle something that requires serious time and concentration.

Determine to focus. Yes, distractions are hard to tune out, but if you put yourself in that mindset, you can do it. Soon, you’ll find they’re calling your flight and you have more things accomplished — and time flew by — because you were able to shut out the distractions.
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5 Ways to Get Work Done while Traveling

January 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Perhaps the trickiest part of business travel is getting the work that is generated from that travel done while you’re not in the office. Here are some ways to keep your productivity at its peak even though you’re not sitting at your desk.

You may not think this first tip is an effective use of time, but we think it can be a game changer. Creating a strategy for completing the work you need to do before you dive in will give you a guide to keep you on task and on track once you hit the ground. Using your travel time to get organized may be the most helpful thing you can do to make the best use of your time once you arrive.

Fueled coworking space - ideal for business travelers

The Fueled startup space in New York.

Once you’ve formulated your strategy, organize your devices by decluttering your inbox by listening to voicemail messages, deleting junk emails, filing documents into folders, and clearing out old emails that you don’t need any more. Plowing through the plethora of unorganized details will translate into increased productivity when the real work begins.

Get your own hotspot. Don’t depend on the wifi at the airport or the hotel. Carriers have these portable devices, or your smartphone may have an integrated hotspot mode as part of their service. These provide truly high speed internet access on the go. For a monthly fee, which you may be able to expense, you have the peace of mind that you’ll have the internet you need to do your work anywhere, anytime. Plus it’s a lot more secure than public wifi.
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Five Tips for Getting Work Done While Traveling

March 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Most of us file travel days in the “lost” category, thanks to the amount of time squandered getting where we have to go. With the fast pace of business, you really can’t afford to lose days to travel. Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of your time while you’re traveling.

Of course, you need a comfortable place to work too. This is the Oslo Lounge at Gardermoen Airport.

Of course, you need a comfortable place to work too. This is the Oslo Lounge at Gardermoen Airport.

First of all, be smart in how you book your travel. Even if your company has someone responsible for arranging itineraries, it’s worth the extra time to investigate the best options and communicate them to your travel arranger. Don’t let that investigation become a time sink, though. It’s not worth saving $50 if it takes an hour of your billable time to find that savings. Time is money, and your time per hour needs to be invested wisely each day.

Commit to getting to your departure gate at least 45 minutes before boarding begins. This will give you time to check email and stay on top of whatever needs your attention before you’re unavailable for 2 – 4 hours. Running your timeline right to the wire — and showing up to the airport at the last possible minute — creates stress, which makes you less productive. Organize your time so you can have time to be useful to those who need to hear from you.
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How Protecting Time Off Improves Performance

September 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

These working vacations we’re so fond of, these take-your-laptop-to-check-email vacations we take with the family, may be harming our overall performance on the job.

A recent article by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) discusses the need for workers to take quality time off from their jobs.

These days, many folks cart laptops or at least smartphones with them and stay in touch during the entirety of their time “away” from the office. While this can be necessary at times, it can also lead to burn out and feelings that their vacation wasn’t truly a vacation.

English: Rental cabins near the Great Smoky Mo...

Why would you want to work when this is your view?! Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Sevier County, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time off is something that supports employee buoyancy; the ability to bounce back easily from stressors. Buoyancy is something every employer should encourage because an office filled with stressed out, grumpy employees with no tolerance for stress creates even more stress for everyone.

“True time off” can be taken if the employee plans ahead of time. Amy Fox, the article’s author, says that her company lays out a timeline for employees before time off that includes planning for who will cover, and talking with clients about what will happen during the vacation. She says that she encourages employees never to use the phrase, “if you need to reach me.”

At TravelPro, we like to encourage everyone to take real time off and not do any work at all. While I don’t do any work while I’m away, I do like to go through my email once a day to make sure I don’t have a jammed inbox when I get back.

It’s even possible to extend vacations because of the capability to take care of simpler tasks on the go and leave very important tasks until you’re back in the office. Since many of us can work anywhere, why not spend a few weeks out of the office working from an Airbnb or vacation rental?

How do you spend your vacations? Do you shut everything off completely, or do you cheat and work while you’re gone?

Leave your favorite practices in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Avoid Work Stacking Up When You Go On Vacation

July 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Many people avoid taking vacations for one simple reason: they’re nervous that while they’re away, things will fall to pieces back at the office. (You know, because the whole business will shut down if we’re not there. Never mind the 12 years it was in existence before we ever showed up.)

The fact is, we all need some time away, especially in today’s ever-connected world. Vacations are not just important for your mental, physical and emotional health, they’re also important for your work performance. Just a few days away from work, emails and phone calls can help you become more passionate about your work again.

W Hotel, working on a laptop, San Francisco, C...

W Hotel, working on a laptop, San Francisco, California, USA (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

So, when you take time off from the office, truly take time off. No work, no answering emails in the mornings, no fiddling with your phone over lunch. Your boss doesn’t let you take a nap in the middle of the day, so why are you working when you’re on vacation?

Next time you’re planning a long vacation, use these tips to avoid work stacking up while you’re away.

1. Plan early

While your HR department or manager may only request two weeks’ notice, you’ll ideally want to notify your manager or colleagues a few months ahead of time. This will give everyone time to adjust to your absence and plan appropriate coverage for your work.

2. Get coverage

Depending on your job, there are likely certain things that simply can’t be ignored while you’re away. Since you’ve already informed your colleagues of your absence ahead of time, you’ll want to make a list of things you’ll need help with while you’re away. Many times, people are happy to pitch in, knowing that you’ll do the same when they need a break. Just don’t forget to bring them a souvenir.

3. Work ahead

Allison Carter of Roundpeg in Indianapolis (and the inspiration for this post) took a two week trip to Egypt, and spent two months working ahead to prepare:

I knew what my baseline work was, what was owed to retainer clients, and what I could plan for. So every week, I wrote an extra blog post or two to hold in reserve, saved a few more tweets to be scheduled. That way, I wasn’t scrambling in the week before I left to finish two weeks worth of work.

Although that may seem extreme, working ahead for a few weeks (or a few months.) will keep you from stressing yourself out pre-vacation.

4. Give clients plenty of notice

In Allison’s case, she began notifying her clients of her absence a month in advance, then sent them a final reminder one week before with contact information for a fellow colleague. “This way,” she said, “there were no nasty surprises when a client realized I was gone, and the transition was smooth for them.”

5. Stay on top of your inbox

If your email inbox tends to fill up fast, you may want to log in and do a bit of cleaning while you’re away. Don’t respond to messages or start reading too thoroughly – just log in and quickly delete any junk you don’t need. If you spot anything important, flag it so you know what to tackle first upon your return.

The last step? Enjoy your vacation, and remember to truly unplug. This may feel unnatural and difficult, but remind yourself that this is your opportunity to unwind and invest in your personal health.