Nicole Eagan, CEO of Darktrace, an AI company for cyber defense, is on the road almost every day. She says she generally gets home two weekends a month, but in October, her husband said she'd actually spent just 11 hours at home that month. Her response: To take him with her for 10 days of travel in November. "What better use for air miles?" she asks.
From packing for efficiency to travel apps we've never heard of, here's how Eagan stays productive no matter what time zone she's in.
A perfect, coffee-free wakeup routine.
Eagan starts every day the same way no matter where she is or when she shows up. On weekdays, she's up at 3:30 a.m. local time. On weekends, she sleeps in until 5:30 a.m. No caffeine, she says, because it makes her heart and brain race, and also contributes to jet lag. Instead, she prefers hot water with tons of lemon in it. Then she jumps rope for a quick shot of exercise no matter where she is. "It balances your body back up and you feel awake and motivated for the day," she says. Then she checks her email to see what happened overnight.
Make flight time productive.
As a frequent traveler, Eagan says it's imperative to make travel time as productive as possible. Before each flight, she decides what work she'll get done on it, and blocks the time on her calendar just like she would any other appointment.
Abolish standing meetings.
Eagan doesn't schedule any standing meetings--and she doesn't let anyone else rope her into them, either. "They are the absolute worst," she says. She gave them up six years ago, and "I'm so glad I did. Next thing you know you have standing meetings and calls filling up your days and they are not aligned with your priorities."
Let your assistant pack your schedule.
When Eagan learns she has to be in a specific city--to speak at a conference, perhaps--she'll make the most of her time there. Are there analysts she should meet with? What are the highest priority deals in that city, and what can she do while she's there to help them close? What customers should she meet with? "All of that takes time," Eagan says. Her assistant has to do the research and schedule everything to fit in.
Pick a color theme.
When Eagan packs, she sticks to just one color theme for the week, limiting the number of shoes she has to bring. One week she'll choose navy, the next grey, the next black. Doesn't sound exciting, but it works, she says, adding, "I feel sorry for men because there is nothing better for travel than a dress."
Take advantage of travel apps.
While Eagan calls TSA Pre-Check a lifesaver for most trips, she says Global Entry doesn't help for international trips. Instead, she prefers Mobile Passport, a free app that generates a bar code to expedite the entry process. After landing, she'll simply skip the long lines and scan. Done.
Even though she's a lifetime Starwood platinum member, Eagan often uses a hotel app called Tablet Hotels to find a place to stay. The people who use Tablet, she says, are experienced business travelers and very active in rating the hotels. "The accuracy of their ratings and the descriptions are impeccable."
Book your own itinerary.
"It would take me longer to have my assistant do all the planning, because meetings change, priorities change," she says. "I'd rather know all of it." Eagan has 3 million miles on United, which keeps her from having to choose among airlines. She'll get on a plane and then book her next flight.
During those few weekends that Eagan is home, she'll catch up with family and friends. She also uses her air miles to fly her husband and children with her whenever possible. Her husband has his own company, so he often has the flexibility to travel with her. "I love that the kids can come with me and enjoy London or New York, especially because we live at the beach," she says.