27 Tips to Help You Stay Productive on the Ground and in the Air
For many businesspeople, traveling is a black hole of frustration, stress, and work that piles up while you’re stuck on a plane. Jason Womack offers a wealth of strategies to help you make the most of your time on the move so that you can accomplish great things once you reach your destination.
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.
If you’re one of the many Americans who travel regularly for business, this scenario is probably all too familiar. Airports, delays, and forced downtime are the bane of the road warrior’s existence, because they usually mean you’re getting even farther behind on your constantly expanding to-do list. According to Jason Womack, though, when you travel smart, you can continue to make huge strides with whatever you want to accomplish (even when you’re stuck at an airport gate)—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, a workplace performance expert, executive coach, and author of the new book Your Best Just Got Better : Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More (Wiley , February 2012, ISBN: 978-1-118-12198-6, $24.95). “Plus, the knowledge of what you have to do later stresses you out all day long. But when you work and travel smart, you’ll have time to explore the city you’re in after checking into the hotel…or to enjoy a hot bath and a glass of wine once you finally make it home.
“I want to stress that I’m not advocating becoming a productivity nut who’s constantly trying to do more, more, more,” he adds. “You make these changes to the way you travel so that 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.”
If you’d like to increase your productivity the next time you don the armor of a road warrior, then read on for 27 of Womack’s tips to help you save time, cut stress, and accomplish great things while you’re on the road.
Tips for the Anti-Packrat
Luggage is a necessary evil for most road warriors. After all, nobody
really likes packing, lugging around a suitcase, and living out of one. Luckily, there
are simple tactics to prevent needless luggage-related stress.
Become a packing minimalist. How much time do you spend packing and unpacking before and after each trip? And when was the last time you really evaluated the contents of your suitcase? If you’re like many frequent travelers, says Womack, you probably tend to prepare for a trip on autopilot, and you include items that you never use or wear.
“Before the next trip, carefully examine what you pack and eliminate anything that isn’t necessary,” he suggests. “I know it sounds overly simple, but I promise you’ll be surprised by how much easier it is to find what you need when you’re on the road. Plus, the next time you have to pack, the task will go a lot more quickly. To save yourself some last-minute stress, I suggest repacking your travel bag the second everything is washed, dried, and folded.”
Invest in important duplicates for travel. All road warriors have experienced the sinking feeling that hits the moment you realize you’ve forgotten your phone charger, or even your hairbrush. Womack says it’s worth investing in a duplicate set of power chargers for your phone, laptop, and other tech devices, as well as a duplicate set of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, grooming products, etc.). Always keep these duplicates in your travel bag. This way, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting something, and you’ll save time because you won’t have to unplug your office setup and raid your bathroom before every trip.
Charge it…all. Create a checklist of “power” items with which you travel and get into the habit of reviewing that list the night before each trip in order to make sure each device is charging.
“I have one place in my home office where I always charge my travel must-haves,” shares Womack. “Conveniently, it’s on the same counter as my keys and wallet so I’m sure to grab my charging items before I head off to the airport. Be sure to do the same thing in your hotel room the night before traveling back home, too. And again, buy extra charging cords that always stay in your carry-on bag.”
Pack your workout gear. Taking advantage of your hotel’s gym, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, can relieve travel stress, keep you energized, and help with jetlag. Always carry a set of workout clothes in case you get a chance to use them, and lay them out when you arrive at your hotel room so that you won’t have to dig through your luggage first thing in the morning.
Be medically prepared. Always travel with a first aid kit that includes pain relievers, band-aids, cold medicine, etc. Having to stop what you’re doing to find a pharmacy can be time-consuming and expensive.
Keep important extras close. Ladies, always put an extra pair of pantyhose in your purse. Men, you might want to put a back-up tie in your briefcase. Having items like these on hand can reduce stress if you run into any hiccups on the road.
About the Author:
Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA, provides practical methods to maximize tools, systems, and processes to achieve quality work/life balance. He has worked with leaders and executives for over 16 years in the business and education sectors. His focus is on creating ideas that matter and implementing solutions that are valuable to organizations and the individuals in those organizations.
Read Part two of 27 tips including Tips for Smooth Travelling
Read Part Three of 27 tips including Tips for Productivity