12 Tips for Staying Productive While Traveling in 2019
As an engineer and frequent project-based traveler, I’ve been on a lot of wind farm projects over the last seven years, about 35 weeks every year on the road. Most of the time during the trip is fragmented, making it difficult to stay focused for long periods of time or to work in depth.
Over the years, however, I’ve developed a theory that it’s still imperative to try our best to maintain productivity during travel. There are two reasons, firstly, being productive means making full use of the fragments of time, and you will reap a lot, which creates value for yourself. Secondly, It can ensure the completion of the mission objectives of your trip, otherwise, you may have to do some after-care work when you get home, which means that you cannot fully accompany your family. Based on my extensive experience on the road, here are some tips to help you use travel time effectively and stay productive.
1. Plan out the details of your trip in advance.
In short, you need to be very clear about the purpose of your trip and make a schedule. If you’re just going to a conference to give a technical opinion, it’s very simple. If going to the project site to solve some problems, you must ensure that all relevant parties have made preparations and confirmed the details of the schedule.
2. Make your own checklist.
A good way to avoid missing item is to make a list before you leave. The worst-case scenario is that you arrive at your destination and find an important gap that prevents you from achieving your goal, and you end up having to make another trip to fix it. In order to avoid this situation, you’d better use a checklist and eliminate risks by completing it item by item.
You can find a lot of generic ones on the Internet, like The Ultimate Packing List. But you don’t have to prepare as much. The best thing to do, then, is to create a list that is completely applicable to your own. Usually, it will be summed up after two or three business trips, which will bring you a lot of convenience for future business trips. And learning some packing skills can save space and time. As your belongings are neatly arranged, when arriving at the hotel, you can pick them up easier and faster.
3. Be familiar with your destination or project.
If you are a project-based traveler, then you should be familiar with each of your projects and communicate and confirm some basic issues before you leave. Otherwise, If travel to maintain customer relationship, carry out technological activities, or attend a meeting, you should know your destination very well, such as information about the city you’re staying in, the best route from the airport to the hotel, the hotel’s reputation and hygienic conditions, etc.
4. Use a cloud disk.
Use Google Drive or Dropbox at the office to synchronize your files before departure, then you can download them at any time to continue work on the road. If going to a place that may not have a network, such as a field construction site or a desolate area, you may need to use an external disk for emergencies.
5. Equip yourself well.
In addition to luggage and clothing, business travel needs items that involve safety, health, efficiency, etc. The cost of these items is definitely worth it. For instance, a good productivity tool, like a portable and powerful laptop, can help you get more done on the road. A noise-canceling headset can protect you from a crying baby on a plane. An alpenstock can greatly improve your safety when you are climbing to a wind farm on a mountain.
It is also necessary to bring some books, but for portability and lightening load, Kindle is definitely a better choice. Some apps that are very useful for your trip, like Concur, Google Translate, Google Trips, Google Map, OpenTable, Tripit, Uber, etc. If writing on the road, consider EverNote or Bear. For a short-term business trip, some electronic devices such as Kindle and iPad do not need to be equipped with a charger after being charged, which can reduce your burden.
6. Make full use of the fragments of time.
Perhaps this is the most important point. Whether it’s on a plane or train, or waiting at an airport because of flight delays, it’s hard to equate an office work environment. You don’t have to expect to do some deep work. Consider doing some lightweight things, such as clear out emails, reviewing technical documents, and sorting out documents. Or, just reading. Doing these are a good use of time.
In fact, more and more people realize that it is a good time to read deeply on the flight, many travelers catch up on latest novels on the seat of the plane. Of course, you can also read the articles that you marked by a save-for-later app like Pocket. Reading doesn’t produce anything directly, but it does help you improve and refresh your mind, so it is definitely one way to make the most of your time on the road.
Whether you want to work or read, if feeling a little restless and you can’t get started, you can tell yourself that you just have to put up with it for five minutes, just five minutes. Once hold on, then you will probably continue. This method is really effective. The core principle of making the most of fragmented time is to quickly create your own mental space and immerse yourself in it. And, apart from work or reading, Podcast is also an option.
7. Keep contact with your office if traveling for a long time.
If traveling for a long time, you should contact your office colleagues or boss regularly. In this way, you can report the business progress to the boss timely, and you won’t miss the big events of the company. In addition, you will occasionally need the technical support of office colleagues when away on business. Hold video meetings with your co-workers if necessary.
8. Prepare for schedule changes.
Although you’ve planned out a well-developed itinerary, unexpected changes may occur. Say you have to spend an extra day in a strange city due to the cancellation of your flight. You have to play it by ear. In addition to reading, you can also download working files from the cloud disk and complete urgent tasks at the hotel. To be sure, use tools and time wisely, and you won’t let your work lag behind because of the schedule changes.
However, if an irregular schedule is a real torment for you, then at least you should try your best to keep calm and control your bad mood to ensure your mental health.
9. Keep a journal of your inspirations.
There is no doubt that travel, even business travel, brings you fresh experiences and new scenery that both can inspire your creativity and expand your thinking. When inspiration strikes, you can record it in time.
Thanks to technological advancements, we can do this so easily. Some apps are very handy, such as Evernote and Wunderlist. Or, use a quick tool, like Siri, Cortana or other speaktoit assistants. You don’t need any further processing instantly. When getting back to your hotel or office, you can carefully expand it into a specific project or an interesting piece of content. Accumulate them and they will soon become precious treasures.
10. Choose the right hotel.
If you need to stay productive, you should be aware of your hotel’s Internet connection, hot water, noise, and the availability of a comfortable desk and proper chair. You need to use some apps, like Travelocity or Expedia, refer to reviews and word of mouth, and choose the most suitable one, instead of the one closest to your destination. In this way, you can concentrate on your work. You should always pay attention to hotel hygiene problems, and be careful when you eat out.
11. Getting up early and take advantage of it.
Even if the meeting starts at 9 o’clock, there are still plenty of things you can do between 7:30 and 8:30, such as eating breakfast, preparing for the meeting speech, sorting out the inspiration recorded, learning a foreign language, or exercising.
Never refresh Twitter or TikTok as soon as open your eyes to avoid wasting two hours easily. Taking advantage of getting up early is definitely one of the strategies to get you ahead of others. If you can make these habits, you will definitely gain a lot.
12. Work-leisure balance.
Staying productivity is certainly valuable, but combining work and leisure is even more important. Being too harsh to yourself and filling every minute with work may cause the exhaustion of mind, and final be just the opposite to what you intended. If long-term business travel makes you physically knackered and mentally tired, it’s time to take a rest.
You can enjoy some classical music, have a coffee break near the hotel, taste some local special, or go to the place of interest, take some photos and share them with your family at any time. Besides, as mentioned above, you’re likely to get a lot of great inspirations during these interesting relaxation activities.