According to a recent poll, 95 percent of business professionals believe travel makes them more productive. Unfortunately for many, unplugging 100 percent isn't possible. However, with a little planning and few productivity hacks, you can spend more time away than you think.
Follow these five steps and your next (working) trip will allow for a little more time relaxing and a little less time stressing:
1. Plan for a quest of fun
To quote Clark Griswold, "I'll tell you something...this is no longer a vacation, it's a quest. A quest for fun." So plan accordingly. The most detailed attention should go into planning and delegating tasks weeks before you leave. Even if you aren't a to-do list person, become one. Make a full, almost worst-case-scenario list of everything that needs to be handled while you are out.
The next step is to break them into the most time-consuming tasks and determine what needs to be tackled first. Begin delegating to your team ahead of time so they can ask questions early and get prepared. If your team consists of just you, start these tasks early and give yourself plenty of time to get them done.
Also, make arrangements for reviews and responses. If you are regularly editing things for your team, or needing to approve documents before delivery, set up a schedule with your staff. They may have to work a couple of days in advance, but let them know that if they need to deliver something on deadline, you may need a few extra days for review. Even the best of planners experience hiccups while traveling, so the more prepared you are, the better off you will be.
2. Set boundaries
Take a good long look at your days and determine when you can escape without the walls burning down. If your clients and customers are the most needy in the mornings, prepare to be around. If your days are slower after lunch, plan your excursions then - and communicate.
If you have a team, let them know that you will be out during a specific time of every day and stick to it. Your fellow travelers will appreciate it and your team can adjust. Also, don't forget about email auto responses. You don't have to be out of office completely to use one, let people know you are traveling and may have a delayed response.
3. Plan around WiFi
This may sound simple, but it can really throw a wrench in your plans. Sure, most places you travel these days have WiFi, but that doesn't mean that it's reliable. Be sure to check the flight details when booking so you can stay productive inflight - certain booking sites even let you choose that as a filter option during purchase.
When scoping out lodging, travelers are used to checking Trip Advisor for things like accommodations and service reviews - but don't forget to make sure that people haven't complained about the Wifi connection and reliability. Lastly, there are a slew of Wifi finder apps available - get one and make sure you have options around you.
4. Become a morning person
There are many reasons to sleep in on vacations - most notably, the activities from the evening before. However, early mornings could give you a slight advantage. By capitalizing on the time others (including customers) are sleeping, you can get a jump on the day and set up a few things in advance to make your day run more smoothly.
If you want regular communication to your customers throughout the day, schedule them to be delivered at alternate times. Most email servers will let you schedule when an email is delivered - check out Gmail scheduling with Boomerang or Streak for other options.
5. Heed to your to-do lists
Whether you are a list maker or not, a to-do list is your best friend on the road. To work properly, before you leave a master list should be made of all the things you (and your team) need to complete while you are away. Old fashion pen and paper will suffice, but there are also plenty of digital options.
Each night make a list of four things for the next day:
What needs to be completed by tomorrow?
What needs to be followed up on?
What needs to be assigned?
What needs to be started?
By breaking it down you can will quickly see what your priorities are, where you might need support and how much time you'll have to yourself the next day.
Let's face it, working while also trying to enjoy travel can quickly kill your quest for fun. But for many entrepreneurs, there's simply no escaping it. Instead of skipping vacation or trying to only do a day here or there, really strategize how you can make things work on the road. Communicate expectations with your team and travel companions and plan properly. You just might be able to make it work.