Traveling for work is a necessary evil. It usually means an entire day wasted standing in airport lines, sitting in uncomfortable chairs and making small talk with strangers because the battery on your laptop died halfway into the flight.
It doesn't have to be that way. Business travel is one of my most productive times because I am able to focus solely on work tasks without the typical office or family distractions. The key is capitalizing on the hidden pockets of time while avoiding the major travel productivity roadblocks.
Plan to Be Productive
Productive travel starts with preparation and packing. Before you go, set your travel goals and objective, plan your travel to-do list and pack your carry-on accordingly, remembering to include any relevant files and documents.
Don't forget to load your iPod with your favorite business podcasts and download your online research into Pocket, a handy app for reading blogs offline. I usually also include a blank notebook with my travel to-do list written out on the first page.
Next it's time to find those hidden pockets of time, starting with your travel to the airport. The minute I step out the door, I am listening to a business or motivational podcast. Not only does this get me in the mindset of being productive, it fills otherwise unproductive time gaps, like standing in line.
As soon as you are through security, get yourself to the nearest power outlet. More and more airports are adding charging stations, but space still tends to be limited so choose your waiting room location wisely. Time to work on that proposal, outline a blog post or finish responding to that batch of e-mails.
Know how long your laptop can run on battery and plan your projects accordingly. I usually start by reviewing the files with my laptop off, and do a quick outline on paper and then turn on my laptop to work on the actual documents. Don't forget that energy conservation mode is your travel productivity friend.
A Powerstick is an ingenious gadget for charging dead devices, but it only works on smartphones, cameras and tablets so if you anticipate needing more time than your laptop can handle, best to bring an iPad and a mini keyboard for when your laptop runs out of battery.
Where to Find Wi-Fi
Even though many airports and airlines offer free WiFi, don't count on connectivity until you arrive at your destination. It's also a good idea to know a few alternate destinations for WiFi just in case the hotel system is sketchy (McDonald's and Starbucks are my global favorites for free Internet).
Speaking of travel productivity roadblocks, that iPod you listened to comes in very handy if the Chatty Cathy sitting next to you doesn't take the hint when you pull out your laptop. Tactfully excuse yourself from the conversation and then plug in to make sure she doesn't launch into another conversation when she gets bored with the in-flight magazine.
When you do arrive at your hotel, confirm the connectivity situation right away. That way you won't end up in a late-night panic when you discover that the hotel only offers Ethernet and your MacBook Air only operates via Wi-Fi (don't worry Mac lovers-Apple offers a USB Ethernet adapter.)
Remember, the key to travel productivity is preparation. So even though you are overwhelmed with deadlines and last-minute to-do's before you go, it's important to set aside the time to prepare and plan your productivity. Happy travels!
About Carla Young
Carla Young shares her time management, motivation and practical business tips for mom entrepreneurs as well as the trials and tribulations of balancing work, family and a little bit of playtime for mommy at MOMeo Magazine, an online resource publication for work-at-home moms.