I fly a lot and business trips can be extremely productive, but it’s important to find a way to get your day-to-day operational tasks done in transit. (And during non-peak networking hours, so as to not get behind while away from the office.) Here are some easy tips to stay on top of things through a trip, so you won’t have any catching up to do when it’s over.
Cue Up Emails
When I know I’m going to have extended periods sitting at the gate or on the plane, I line work up so I know exactly what I need to accomplish while I’m in transit. Whether I have Wi-Fi access or not, I have documents and tasks open and ready to be checked off my to-do list. For example, if I don’t buy Wi-Fi on the plane (and I usually don’t on shorter flights), I’ll cue up 20-30 emails and shoot them off when I land.
Invest in Personal Growth
Once I tear through all the emails and tasks I can while I’m not able to use the internet, I spend time reading up on industry-related topics. If you focus on growing your knowledge base, instead of looking through products in SkyMall you know you’ll never buy, you’ll gain a significant advantage over people who get easily distracted and waste that precious time.
Whether you’re in the airport or on the plane, there are easy opportunities to meet interesting people and, more often than not, the chance to meet someone who can really help your career. Take time to be friendly with people in line, at the gate, and on the plane. You never know who you might meet and how they could impact your business or career.
Take Time to See the Big Picture
It’s hard to spend a lot of time thinking “big picture” about your business when you’re stuck in the day-to-day operations. When I travel, I try to invest a few small blocks of time (30-40 minutes) in thinking broadly about my business. Think about how you can grow your business more creatively and strategically. Consider how you can improve efficiency and productivity. Most importantly, determine who you can reach out to and how you can help them in some way. My goal is to think of five people I haven’t talked to in a while and spend five minutes reconnecting with them.
Set Up Meetings and After-Hours Events
Spend time planning your schedule. If you already have this done by the time you’re on the plane, review your schedule to see if you can add anything. In addition, figure out what you want to get out of each meeting, conference session, and interaction. Figure out your purpose, who you want to meet, and what prep work you need to do in order to be as ready as possible.
Once you arrive at your destination city and have meetings or conferences to attend, you have to figure out how you can best maximize your time.
Do Busy Work During Free Time
If you have the fortune to meet with people face-to-face, utilize every opportunity. Whether these are meetings, events, conferences, or night networking events, take advantage of them. Spend time early in the morning or late at night taking care of busy work, such as catching up on emails and keeping up with things back at the office.
Keep Phone Calls to a Minimum
You are traveling for a purpose. Make sure to not spend too much time cooped up in your room making phone calls. Block off the majority of your day for in-person meetings, events, and opportunities to network. You can make phone calls when you get back.
Prioritize Your Events/Meetings
Oftentimes, there are multiple events you want to attend. Figure out which is likely to be the most beneficial for you and your company, and prioritize around that meeting. Don’t necessarily think about what you might learn the most from; keep in mind where your target market/prospective leads may be.
Whether you have a one-day trip or are gone for weeks at a time, it’s incredibly important to ensure you spend quality time with people in your destination city, as well as keep up with your day-to-day tasks. Remaining productive while traveling can change your business and allow you to return to the office with new wind in your sails—and no catching up to do.