There’s something inherently exciting about the prospect of business travel. After all, it’s usually an all-expenses-paid excuse to explore a new destination, get some time away from the office, and have fun while on the clock. Many of us actually spend the weeks before our scheduled trip daydreaming about all of the different ways we’ll be productive during that fantastic, uninterrupted time that a travel schedule affords – lost in the naïve belief that we’ll somehow manage to get more done while adventuring, than we would at a desk.
Unfortunately, the truth behind business travel is that it’s far more hectic, stressful, and downright demanding than we might like. A survey conducted in 2012 by the Global Business Travel Association even found that some companies have higher expectations of productivity from business travelers – despite the fact that disrupted sleep, poor food choices, and unpredictable Wi-Fi can make staying focused more difficult than ever.
The problem with business travel, is that it not only takes you away from the office, but it removes you from your usual routine. When we’re not sleeping in the same bed, working on the same time frame, or using the same desk, it can be tough to find the concentration you need to get things done right. Fortunately, we have some tips that might be able to help.
Step 1: Get Familiar with Your Destination
If you want to make business travel more productive, before you go anywhere, find out exactly where you’re going to be staying, and what’s located nearby. Remember that staying safe and secure abroad is about more than simply wearing a money security pouch – it’s also about doing your research so that you know you’re properly prepared. Of course, finding out more about your destination isn’t just good for keeping you safe – it’ll also inform you of whether you have a conference center nearby, where you’ll need to go to grab a cab, and how hard it will be to get access to public Wi-Fi.
A little prior research may also help you in finding places you can go to grab a few energy-boosting snacks to get you through your workday.
Step 2: Make the Most of Modern Technology
Before you head out on your trip, take a look at your smartphone or tablet and determine which of your currently installed applications are going to help you enhance your productivity levels. If you haven’t got anything downloaded but games and a notepad, you might want to consider looking at some of the more useful solutions available on the market today. At the same time, remember that your smartphone may not always be enough for the kind of work you need to get done. There’s nothing wrong with bringing your laptop on your journey with you, if you feel you’re going to have some heavy-duty writing tasks to complete.
Whatever technology you decide to bring with you, remember that you’re going to need a worldwide plug adapter too – particularly if your headed out of the country. The last thing you want is for your technology to fail in the middle of an important conference because you didn’t have the forethought to charge the battery.
Step 3: Establish Your Duties Before You Leave
Whether you work for a company or you’re an entrepreneur seeking out international business and partnerships, the chances are that there’s a set reason behind your business trip. Figure out what you want to achieve in advance, or what your superiors expect from you, and you’ll be able to manage a more reasonable workload while you’re away. Productivity doesn’t necessarily mean getting as much done as possible – regardless of quality – instead, it means thinking about what is most important, and arranging your tasks accordingly.
At the same time, remember that if you have a team, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with them whenever possible, and keep them updated about how your trip is progressing. The best way to do this is with emails, instant messaging, and apps like Skype.
Step 4: Find Your Focus Wherever Possible
Some people work best when there’s background noise to help them feel natural and at ease, whereas other people work best when they’re in complete silence, with nothing but a whirring air conditioner fan, and a bag of snacks to keep them company. Whatever works for you is what you need to stick to – regardless of where you end up on your business trip.
Once you’ve landed in your chosen destination, and checked into your hotel, do whatever it might take to optimize your comfort and time. Whether this means organizing your documents, checking up on your travel itinerary, or simply stocking your mini-fridge with plenty of energy drinks and iced coffee.
If you’re working from a hotel room, most experts recommend setting your laptop up at a desk or table in a way that resembles your regular workspace – this will help to prevent you from getting distracted, and keep you focused on your goal.
Step 5: Remember to Unwind
Finally, you can’t be productive if you’re burned out and exhausted. People often forget that when they’re trying to make business travel more productive, they also have to think about looking after themselves. Travel is a stressful experience – no matter how exotic or beautiful your destination might be, or how many stars your hotel boasts in terms of quality. That means that you need to devote some effort to figuring out how you’re going to unwind after a day of research, meetings, and typing up information.
Pack a good book into your suitcase if you find that reading helps you to relax, or store some of your favorite shows into the offline archives on your laptop or tablet. Whatever works for you, just be sure that you don’t burn both ends of your professional candle too fast. No matter where you are in the world, you still need to sleep well, eat properly, and take some time out for yourself.