Staying Productive (and Sane) On The Road

Jun 22, 2017

Well, I’ll start with this. . . I love what I do in a very big way. Because there is no way I would have left a job I loved to leave my house and family, whom I adore, this many times if not.

My master calendar of Together Group travel!

But as we head into Together Summer Tour 2017, I’ve received quite a few questions about how to stay productive while traveling. I’ve focused before on keeping healthy during heavy travel here and here. And I’m most certainly NOT a Together Packer (though I’m improving…), but because my job either relies on major introversion (author) or major extraversion (trainer), I’ve had to learn to integrate 1 – 3 days of workshop facilitation, and associated travel, into my life each week.

Here’s what I’ve learned about what works for me to stay productive on the road:

  • Plan the downtime. I know I’ll need it. I’ve learned to predict when, and I just try to lean into it. And I’m all for stop-and-smell-the-roses-and-stare-out-the-window-at-the-Brooklyn-Bridge-time, but when your entire schedule is spent in transit to and from one place or another, there can be a lot of window-gazing. So, I’ll also print a few articles or download a few podcasts for those little pieces of time.
  • Know thy space and environment. I’m not good at taking calls on the fly or multi-tasking as I roll onto a plane. It makes me feel totally frazzled – and not Together. But I’ve learned there are certain places and times when I can do this. I almost always take someone’s request for a career conversation en route to the airport once I’m safely tucked into an Uber. I know the exact length of the walk from Penn Station in NYC to my most frequented-hotel, and I can plan one conference call for when I arrive and will be in front of my computer and have WiFi.
  • Save the small things. A whole host of small stupid house things usually accumulates while I’m away. I’ve recently started dumping all my household paperwork into a travel envelope and using one post-dinner on-the-road evening to sort, scan, pay, or file. I can get away with working more when I travel, and I actually crank through a lot of busywork.
  • Clean as you go. I used to be the queen of receipt loss and delay, but I have forced myself to use Scannable and take pictures to PDFs of every single receipt as I go (or right at the end of the trip), and send them on to my team. I also try to quarantine dirty laundry so it goes directly in the washing machine when I arrive home, and then gets repacked right away.
  • Plan your re-entry. This one may be my MOST important. I frequently arrive home late on Thursday evenings, and roll right into dropping my kids off at school, getting some kind of exercise, and a starting a day of work on Fridays. I’ve found that if I unpack my bag, set up my computer, and leave my printed Outlook calendar waiting for me when I come in the door, my life the next morning is a lot easier. Huge bonus points when I leave out pajamas so I don’t wake my husband, and also get my Friday morning outfit (read: yoga pants) ready to go. This little re-entry routine helps me feel like I’m not missing a beat.

So, there you have it. I have yet to figure out how to carve out big chunks of time for the introverted parts of my job when traveling, namely writing. But that may just be asking too much.