Building a new company is difficult. Building a new company while travelling almost half the time is even more difficult. After 6 months of a heavy travel schedule I’ve learned some tips and gained insight on how to keep a solid level of productivity on the road (and keep yourself from punching your neighborly TSA agent in the face).
Trim the Fat
Most of my professional travel is to conferences and speaking engagements. These types of events can be quite time-consuming and energy-sucking with long tabling hours, organized happy hours with free drinks and professional conference attendees (avoid engaging at all costs), and unforeseeable distractions taking up most of the day.
It’s important to set realistic expectations of what you’re going to be able to accomplish. Falling into the trap of overrating my energy levels and available time to just get sh*t done while traveling has killed my productivity in the past and luckily you can learn from my mistakes.
The best thing to do is start preparing for travel weeks and months ahead of time. Knowing that your travel schedule is going to interrupt your typical productivity put in the extra effort ahead of time, so you can prioritize the primary reason for your travel and alleviate some stress. This will allow you to trim the fat and slim down that daily to-do list from 8-10 items to the 2-3 most valuable ones that you feel confident you’ll actually be able to cross off your list at the end of the day.
Create New Structures
At Praxis, all of our team members create personal development projects (PDPs) where we set 30-day goals for building daily habits and routines that make us more productive and grow self-awareness. I have come to heavily rely on my PDPs for creating consistent daily structures that allow me to excel in my work.
And then I’ll go on the road and everything gets destroyed (womp womp). When I have tried to maintain the same structure on the road as I do at home I become overwhelmed and end up paralyzed. My last few trips have been much more successful because I have recognized that I won’t be able to fit everything I want to into my day.
The days leading up to a work trip, I will now take my current PDP and tailor it to being on the road. Instead of getting in four extensive workouts per week, I’ll set daily goals of doing fifty push-ups and sit-ups and one weekly cardio workout. Instead of blogging daily I blog weekly, Instead of reading a book a week, I’ll change to 15 minutes of reading each evening.
Keeping the momentum going is more vital than staying 100% productive as you are at home.
Embrace Airports and Flights
Hardly anyone enjoys the experience of being in an airport. Unpleasant and handsy TSA employees, slow Wi-Fi, and overpriced food options will make the most optimistic person a little grumpy. It’s completely understandable to go into survival mode. A simple change in mindset though can help you make your hours in airports and on flights some of the most productive.
When I’m on long trips, I now look forward to the predictableness. At events and conferences, I never know what distractions are to pop up, but at airports there isn’t much surprise and I actually enjoy the solitude knowing I’ll have so little of it once I land. I view my time in airports and in the air as the most optimal time to work now.
Enjoy the Travel
Even though travel can be stressful and unproductive, at the end of the day it’s pretty neat to be able to spend time in parts of the country you would not be able to otherwise. Take the time to eat the local cuisine and don’t be afraid to play corny tourist for a day.