Whether you hate the idea of traveling or you actually look forward to it, it's hard to deny that travel can sabotage your productivity--at least temporarily. It takes hours of planning and coordination to prepare for some trips, and hours to navigate airports, not to mention the actual time you spend traveling.
It can make a full day of responsibilities feel like a waste, and put you behind on achieving your goals. Fortunately, there are some helpful strategies that can make you more productive--no matter how you're traveling.
Try using these tactics to get more done when you're setting course on a major trip:
1. Get used to a different sleep cycle.
One of the biggest sources of productivity disturbance while traveling is the disruption in your sleep cycle. Depending on where you travel to, you could be dealing with timezone changes and jet lag, and you may not be able to get a comfortable eight hours of sleep when you're used to getting it.
Instead, you can try a biphasic cycle or an everyman cycle, which rely on split patterns to break up your time sleeping; that way, travel may not have as big of an impact on you. The caveat here is that it takes time to get used to a new sleep cycle, so it's best for frequent travelers only.
2. Take a private jet.
One of the biggest sources of time delay while traveling is navigating the airport; going through customs, waiting to board the plane, dealing with delays, etc., can add several unnecessary hours to your trip.
Taking a private jet allows you to circumvent most of these problems--and it's cheaper than you think. If a few hundred dollars can save you literally hours of time, and afford you a better workspace when you're flying, it's likely worth the extra money.
3. Look for coworking spaces when you arrive.
Coworking spaces are popping up everywhere, so you shouldn't have trouble finding one at your destination. Instead of going straight to a hotel or meeting, check into one of these productivity hubs; you'll be able to get coffee, work in a peaceful environment, and if you're up for it, socialize with other people who may be in similar situations. It's a great way to both decompress and get more work done, so take advantage of it.
4. Rely on audio.
While you're driving, navigating the airport, or dealing with a lack of lighting or Wi-Fi, you won't be able to work on your most important heads-down tasks--but that doesn't mean you can't be productive.
Try focusing on audio-specific tasks when you can, listening to recordings of old meetings to prepare for the future, catching up on your favorite industry podcasts, and listening to audiobooks that can improve your skills or expand your professional horizons. There's no shortage of audio content to plunder, so make good use of it.
5. Prepare travel-specific tasks.
While traveling, you won't be able to do tasks that require multiple monitors, or meet with your teammates in person. You'll have limited space, and in some cases, limited Wi-Fi connectivity.
Prepare tasks that you can work on under these conditions, so you don't run out of things to do. As long as you have a few days' heads-up, you can handle your least travel-friendly tasks in advance, and set yourself up to work offline for the next several hours.
6. Say "no" and delegate.
New things are going to come to your attention before and during your travel; for example, you might get a client email requesting a change to a piece of work you submitted. If this is the type of work that can't be done efficiently when traveling, don't bend over backwards trying to do it; instead, tell them you're traveling, and not able to do it right now.
If it's an emergency, or if you won't be able to get to it for a while, consider delegating it to someone who can handle it.
7. Rest (if you can).
To some people, sleeping may seem like the opposite of productivity. But in reality, sleeping is one of the best things you can do for your mental energy and cognitive capacity. It can even reduce your susceptibility to illness and improve your overall physical health.
Accordingly, if it's possible for you to take a nap during a long flight or car ride, take advantage of the opportunity. Use a face mask, a neck pillow, or some comforting white noise from your headphones--whatever you need to get some extra shuteye when you're between destinations. You'll thank yourself later.
Finding Your Own Style
Not everyone is going to travel the same way. For example, some people may not be able to read while in a vehicle, and some may have trouble sleeping on airplanes. The goal isn't to fall in line with a series of productive habits, but rather to craft your own habits to maximize your personal productivity. Learn which strategies and actions suit you best, and customize your own set of approaches.