Like many executives, I'm often on the move. On any given week I could be flying from coast to coast visiting customers, meeting with our investors in Menlo Park or New York or attending a conference in Boston or London. Every once in awhile, you can even find me working from our HQ in San Francisco. Frequent travel has taught me more about prioritization than business school--and over the years I've picked up a few easy ways to stay on top of your work while on-the-move. Here are my top six:

1) Don't go anywhere without a prep doc: Before taking off, I work with my teams to prepare for every meeting I have on the road. If I'm meeting with a journalist, I read his or her recent stories and chat with our PR team about possible story angles. If I'm meeting with a customer, Okta's sales and customer success teams put together detailed docs on the customer's implementation and if they've run into any issues along the way--and they give me clear objectives for the meeting. I'll bring my prep docs to these meetings and when a customer asks about them, I gladly show them off. Not only do the briefings help me prepare, but they show the customer we've invested time and energy into making the meeting a valuable and successful one.

2) Put everything on your calendar: You have to schedule diligently when traveling. I put absolutely everything on my calendar--not just my meetings and flights, but the 20 minutes it will take me to get through security, the time I need to prepare for each meeting, my coffee break in between, and when I FaceTime with my kids. And to keep my energy up on week-long, multi-destination trips I plan my exercise regimen ahead: I put my pre-breakfast run on the calendar, and include a potential route and weather forecast so I can pack appropriately. (You wouldn't want to pack shorts and a t-shirt for a winter jog through Central Park!) Compulsively scheduling and keeping my calendar meticulously up-to-date with details ensures that I'm on time and prepared for everything.

3) Utilize your time in the air (or on the road): During the time blocked off for travel, I handle things I don't usually get to when jumping from meeting to meeting in the office. If I have a six-hour flight from San Francisco to New York, I'll designate time to go through my reports' success metrics and write performance reviews, I examine financial models in detail--hidden behind my privacy screen, of course--and I read the 200-page research reports that sit in my inbox for weeks. It helps that Wi-Fi is now almost omnipresent, but I always check my flight details before boarding so I can download a local copy of a model or report if I'm going to be offline while in the air. Taking full advantage of your time in the air, on a train or any other form of transportation is essential to successful business travel.

4) Keep a running list of everything going on in the office: Just like I make a to-do list for myself, I keep a running list of everything going on back at the office while I'm on the road. I have a constantly-updated Evernote note (one of my favorite tools) with priorities and tasks to check in on when I return. Often I'm not the one owning those tasks, but I want to be aware of what our leadership team is working on, and what my direct reports are dealing with on the home front.

5) Preserve your one-on-one meetings: Another way to guarantee you stay in touch with the office is to keep your regularly scheduled one-on-ones. Traveling may give you an easy excuse to cancel check-ins, but not a good one. I meet with my executive assistant every Sunday evening or Monday morning to talk through my schedule and when I'm traveling, we figure out how to make my one-on-ones with other execs and my direct reports happen. Sometimes we have to shorten or move them, but I'll jump on the phone at the crack of dawn (and I have--just ask our head of business development) if that's what works best. It's important that I stay connected to what's going on at HQ and my syncs ensure I do just that.

6) Take advantage of the space: Travel can be trying, and most of my suggestions are aimed at diminishing the stress often associated with it, but it's important to remember that traveling can be refreshing as well. You'll think about things differently after a few days outside of the office. I often do my best brainstorming when on the move. As long as you make the most of your time, having time and space to yourself can be advantageous to both you and your company.

Published on: Jan 29, 2016
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