10 Tips for Being Productive while Traveling for Work

If you’ve read the last two articles in the Bench Marks blog series, you know I have been traveling in Hawaii. I’m here on business, working on the details of bringing Wildebeest Publishing Company to scale with a new business partner. Not only did we cover a lot of ground in our strategic planning, we also managed to get in a lot of sightseeing and fun. Here are my takeaways and advice for being productive while traveling. 

  1. Set an out of office message. This is crucial. Communication is a foundation for everything in business and letting people know if you are or aren’t going to get back to them any time soon is important. For me, it’s imperative that people know I may not respond as quickly as I normally would. 
  2. Set expectations with the people you are traveling with. I’ve been lucky that my business partner knows that, in addition to working on Wildebeest, I have other work to attend to. If your travel mates are on vacation and you have work to do, you might have a myriad of distractions to contend with. Be certain to communicate any needs and expectations to your travel mates to allow time to  focus on your other projects. 
  3. Visit somewhere you’ve already been (if you can). One of the biggest challenges we’ve run into is trying to balance work and play. As you can imagine, there is so much to do in Hawaii, meaning there are a lot of distractions. On the other hand, there are a lot of beautiful beaches and waterfront cafés that are a great compromise for a travel office. On a second visit, we’ll be much less prone to trying to do and see everything. 
  4. Mind the time zones. Some calendars and apps automatically switch while others do not. Be sure to confirm meeting times the day before and set reminders in the right time zone. 
  5. Set intentions and review them daily. This practice helps to keep you from starting down a path that may not be conducive to your goals. See last week’s article for more info on that.  
  6. Stay focused. A planner of some sort can be an invaluable tool to manage your everyday to-dos and, when you’re traveling, they are extremely important. I can’t always trust my vacation brain. Therefore, I rely heavily on my F.A.B. Daily Planner to keep me focused. Head on over to a Starbucks or other internet enabled café if you have trouble concentrating at your hotel or with your travel-mates. 
  7. Stay connected. Make sure where you’re staying has decent Wi-Fi.  A helpful trick is to make your files available offline. In the instance you don’t have access to Wi-Fi you’re able to maintain productivity.
  8. Stay charged. Get a charging bank large enough to power your devices, including your laptop, if you will be away from your lodgings or on an extended flight without access to a power source.
  9. Get a head start on the day.  I am not one to get up early when I’m at home,  but when I’m traveling, I want to make the best use of all the hours in the day. To ensure you will get up early, avoid drinking too much alcohol. Mocktails are en vogue, so try one out. Set an alarm and get work done early before doing the fun stuff. If you do the fun stuff first, the work almost always gets bumped to the next day. 
  10.  Avoid Jet Lag induced procrastination. When you arrive in a new time zone, immediately adapt to that region. Don’t compare the time where you are with where you came from and eat on the new schedule. You might be tired on arrival in the evening but the next day you’ll be much more able to concentrate if you’ve subconsciously convinced yourself that your cortisol levels are normal. 

Whether you are on a business only trip or a vacation with remote work involved, implementing these suggestions will help you avoid getting overwhelmed and facilitate returning to the real-world without an overwhelming backlog of work. 



Laura Thorne specializes in strategy and execution through workshops, coaching, and other services. Click here to learn more about Laura’s consulting partnership with MACNY.

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