Today's Challenge: Productivity While You Travel

Do you travel a lot? I don’t consider my travel load to be excessive. I know many men and women who travel more than I do, but I have racked up more than a million miles on Delta over the years. Perhaps that’s enough to qualify me to answer today’s question:  How can you and I be more productive while we travel?

Personal productivity is something I think about almost every day. “How can I maximize my time?” is an ever present question. Here are a few ideas that help me when I’m on the road…
Utilize plane time. I’m writing this post on a plane. I could be napping… maybe later. I knew before I got on the plane I would write at least two posts before we land. Always know before you get on the plane what you’re going to work on. You wouldn’t go into your day at the office without a plan. Use the same logic before you fly.
Try to make every trip multi-purpose. While on a speaking engagement, it’s not uncommon for me to visit one or more of our restaurants. Also, I use time in other cities to connect with people who I may not see often, independent of why I may be in their town. Is there a friend, vendor, or thought leader I can visit? Is there a company to benchmark while I’m there? The best trips for me accomplish multiple objectives.
Travel with someone you want/need to spend time with anyway. I enjoy traveling with men and women from across our organization. Sometimes I do it to get face time with them. Often, I’ll travel with new employees to help with their orientation. This multiplies the impact of the trip.
Always take extra work with you. As much planning as we do before every trip, there are many times I find myself with time on my hands – a meeting gets canceled, a flight gets delayed or any number of other things happen that creates a gap in my schedule. I always like to have work to do when this happens.
Always carry a book or two, or your iPad. Sometimes, I don’t really want to write a talk or read a report, or do any real work – but I still want to be productive. In those cases, I like to have a book to read. Ever since college, I’ve had a backlog of books to read. Travel time helps me close the gap.
Don’t turn the TV on in the hotel (Unless it’s the Final Four or World Series). This may sound crazy, but if I turn on the TV, I can forget getting work done in the evenings. And the way I see it, if I’ve got to be away from my family for a day or two, or three, I want to get as much work done as possible. The TV doesn’t help me do that.
The quest for better productivity is virtually universal among leaders. So the real question is not do we want to be more productive – rather, do we want it bad enough to change our behavior? I’m trying.
What tips can you share for more productivity on the road?

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Tom Metcalf

7 years ago

Thanks for the productivity tips! Your last tip nails it for me! I only watch TV when I’m on the treadmill in the fitness center, otherwise it’s uninterrupted thought and brainstorming time.

mark

7 years ago

Tom, thanks for taking time to reply. If you have other tips, I’d love to hear them. Please let me know if I can serve you in the future. Mark

Pam Smith

7 years ago

For years I brought “regular” projects with me and found that I was less productive. I now use time on the plane for growth by reading leadership books and for “forward” thinking. Something about changing the environment brings new thoughts every time.

Adam Miller

7 years ago

Audiobooks, podcasts and online sermons can be great. It has been great to listen and learn on topics while I travel. I’ve also added more meaning to mowing my yard and working around the house by turning on some educational listening instead of music or radio.

mark

7 years ago

Thanks for sharing this Adam. I’ve done this in the past. I need to do more of it. Thanks for the example and the encouragement! Mark

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