Sometimes, the term “business travel” can feel like an oxymoron. You invest a bunch of money and time in crossing time zones to attend conferences or meet with clients, and when you get back to the office, so much has piled up that you end up feeling like you didn’t really get anything done (even if you did) and that the time away wasn’t worth it (even it was).
Like anything in business (or even life, for that matter), a successful and productive business trip is based on two things: (1) good planning, and (2) staying motivated. And in this first installment of a two-part post (here’s Part 2), we take a look at how you can plan your workload around your travel plans and stay motivated throughout.

Plan Your Transit (In-Flight) Time

Whether you’re flying, taking a train, or are going to be behind the wheel, at some point you’re going to be travelling from point-A to point-B. Your method of travel and the its duration between destinations, layovers, or pit-stops will determine (1) what kind of work you can actually get done, and (2) how much of it you can reasonably accomplish.

Making the most of this time simply requires a bit of foresight and planning, and there are just a few key questions you can ask yourself to maximize your productivity while in transit.

1. What kind of work can you actually do?

If you’re going to be driving, for example, you’re obviously (i.e. hopefully) not going to be using any work devices. So maybe you should plan to catch-up on client and conference calls (using a hands free set-up, of course), or hold meetings or planning sessions with others in the car.

2. Will you have internet access or be offline?

Just as you won’t (i.e. shouldn’t) be typing while driving, you probably won’t have internet access while in the air. So you’ll want to plan out a few tasks to work on while offline. Maybe you you can review that proposal, finish that slideshow, or catch up on and reply to unread messages in your email client (to be sent when regain connectivity). The point is that you should plan to work around the limitations of travel.

3. How much can you reasonably get done?

The amount of time you spend between point-A and point-B will dictate how much you can actually get done, so you should set some SMART Goals for the time you spend in-flight or on the road.
Essentially, by setting yourself tasks that you can actually complete during your transit time, you’re likely to stay motivated and carry your productivity through to your destination. Similarly, if your flight is only an hour, you might be better off using the time to unwind and recharge.

4. What’s waiting for you on the other end?

If you’re heading straight into some kind of meeting or other engagement upon your arrival, then whatever SMART Goals you want to set for your time time in transit should probably relate to helping you prepare. If you’re going into a sales pitch, go through your proposal one more time. If you’re heading into a meeting, review whatever’s on the agenda one more time.

Plan Your Connection & Layover Time

Just as you might spend time in-flight, you might also have connections or layovers. Planning how you’re going to use this time in advance, moreover, can make all the difference between getting-sh*t-done and falling behind on your commitments.

For instance, if your layover is short, say an hour or two, you might be better taking the time to find your connection flight, get a decent bite to eat, and unwind a bit so you’re ready to put your nose back to the grindstone once you’re back in the air.
Conversely, if you’re going to be laid over for a several hours (or a good chunk of a day), then you might want to find a good place in the airport to hunker down and really get something done. And if this is the case, then you should probably set SMART Goals for your layover time just as you would for your time in-flight, and make sure you board your flight feeling like you’ve actually accomplished something — and motivated.
And while you’re making the most of your layover, you might also wanna check out these 10 airport hacks to make that layover that much more comfortable.

Preparation Meets Opportunity

A big part of staying motivated is maintaining a sense of accomplishment, and a big part of maintaining a sense of accomplishment is planning your time in a way where you can actually cross specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound items off of your to-do list. And the same goes for when you’re travelling.
The time we spend in transit can leave us feeling either anxious and unprepared or organized and motivated, and depending on what our travel plans look like, that can mean either working on deliverables or actually enjoying the downtime. The important thing is that you take the time to examine your travel plans and what you need to accomplish while on-the-road, and figure out how much of that you can reasonably accomplish while in transit.

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