Business travel can open up incredible opportunities for you and your business in the medium and long term, but as anyone who's traveled extensively for work can tell you, in the short term, it can be pretty terrible for your productivity.

Jetlag, sleep deprivation, connection troubles, and wasted time waiting for meetings and various modes of transportation can all add up to a mountain of undone tasks. And of course, the river of email into your inbox keeps flowing whether you're away or not (here's one creative solution for dealing with the usual pileup of messages).

But just because travel presents inherent productivity challenges, it doesn't mean you have to accept that you won't be getting much done while you're on the road. Over on the Unreasonable Institute blog recently, former Inc.com "30 Under 30″ entrepreneur and veteran road warrior Daniel Epstein offered clever tips to keep your output up even while traveling. They include:

1. Battle jetlag with better flights

You can't stop the Earth from turning on its axis or your body from being confused by being in a distant time zone, but it turns out there is something you can do about jetlag besides simply muscle through it.

"As we all know, jetlag is a real killer. The trick is learning to buy airplane tickets based on the time difference," Epstein advises. "For example, if I'm flying from the U.S. to London, and it's a seven-hour difference, I've found that it's better to book an early morning flight. Then, I will deprive myself of sleep until I get on the plane (i.e., work all night until my 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. flight), pass out for the duration of the flight, and land in the morning ready to go. It's a great way to get a ton of work done before you fly out and then feel rested and on the right time zone when you land."

2. Dilly-dally

Generally, you don't get more done by dragging your heels. Airports are an exception, according to Epstein, who tells business travelers to always be the last person to board the plane.

"Where you sit matters," he writes. "One of the worst things about traveling on long international flights is winding up in the middle seat for 12 hours. If you wait and board last, any seat that isn't occupied is fair game and no one will check. That little bit of extra legroom in economy plus or that window seat in an open row could make a big difference in productivity or rest." Though he sensibly warns travelers not to take this too far and actually miss the flight!

3. Don't let wellness slide

While you're on the road, it can be tempting to save time by grabbing a grubby fast food sandwich, or tempting to amp up your networking by going out for drinks every night. But Epstein warns those hoping to keep their productivity levels high not to let their commitment to wellness slide when traveling.

"When I travel, I do two things," he explains. "First, I eliminate drinking from all meetings except for those on Friday nights (to be fair, I try to do this but occasionally fail). Second, I create an exercise routine I can do everywhere. You can do pushups, sit-ups, and pull-ups in the office or at the hotel room, no problem. Even when on the plane, I will set a timer for every 40 minutes to get up and walk around. No other time in your life would you sit for 12 hours straight and just stare at a screen. Why do it on an airplane?" Good point.

Looking for more advice for efficient and productive business travel? Check out the complete post for another three killer tips, learn more about how to pack like a pro here, or read one argument for why founders should only fly first class.

Do you find your productivity slips drastically on the road?

Published on: Jun 5, 2015
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