5 Tips to Stay Productive Whilst on the Move
Technology and connectivity seem to be making giant strides in advances in 2015. Wi-Fi hotspots are now widely available at train stations, airports, coffeeshops and in busy city centres, and if they’re not, many business travellers carry a mobile Wi-Fi device or dongle with them. Every month, apps are being created with the sole purpose of finding the nearest free Wi-Fi location, and the gadgets we work on are becoming smaller and lighter, allowing us to finish reports and documents right from our tablet or mobile phone.
Needless to say a consequence of this technological advancement is that organisations actually have a higher productivity expectation of business travellers than ever before. However, recent surveys by industry bodies such as the Global Business Travelers Association (GBTA) indicate that ‘the greatest challenge to productivity is the rigors of the travel itself’; how can one be expected to stay productive when plagued by disrupted sleeping patterns, a lack of exercise, a lack of nutritional food choices, long waiting periods in uncomfortable positions and general disruption from a ‘normal’ lifestyle with friends and family?
Sometimes, the key to staying productive isn’t just to have the latest gadgets and apps, but it’s to look after yourself whilst you’re travelling, utilising handy technology with the basic elements of good health, to create a powerfully productive combination.
So here is our top 5 tips for staying one step ahead on your next business trip:
1. Schedules and Time Management
There’s a lot to remember whilst you’re travelling; confirmation numbers, flight details, meeting arrangements, conference call details, gate numbers… the list goes on. Business Travel Direct can sync all your itinerary information into one handy master itinerary for you. Just download TripCase for free on your iPhone, Android or Blackberry and we’ll automatically load any booking you make with us onto your Tripcase app. You’ll have everything you need in one place to ensure a stress-free trip. We also recommend downloading MobileDay, which syncs with your calendars and auto-detects conference calls for you, pulling the relevant details and numbers into the app. When it’s time for your call, just hit the ‘join call’ button and you’re in – no more fussing with calendar invites whilst you’re on the move.
Another great way to ensure you’re staying productive whilst in transit is simply to make a good ol’ fashioned to-do-list. You can do this online or offline; just plan, write, brainstorm and set yourself timescales to achieve your tasks. It’ll keep you productive whilst you’re travelling and keep your mind in work-mode.
The lifestyle of the business traveller is an easy trap to fall in to; coffees and croissants at the airport, plane food, a business lunch, meal deals, room service… convenience food seems ideal for anyone on the go. However, most of these foods do not contain sufficient nutrition to function at a productive level whilst you’re travelling. Convenience food is generally only a temporary hunger fix and you’ll either experience a sugar-crash just a few hours later, or you’ll be so wired that you’ll be unable to maintain concentration, have elevated stress levels or worse, you’ll be unable to sleep during your journey. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – even if you have an early flight, try to prepare something the night before so you can eat on the go – and it’s vital you start your day with protein-rich foods such as natural yoghurt, fruit, or porridge oats. These types of food will slowly release energy throughout the morning, ensuring you are running on a good amount of fuel long after you’ve eaten it. Herbal teas and bottled water is a great alternative to coffee and will prevent dehydration which can often worse travel fatigue. Soup and salads are a great meal option for lunch or dinner, as the vegetables with supply you with a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. Don’t forget, travelling can often mean sitting in close proximity seating to others than could potentially have coughs and colds – so the right nutrients will ensure you stay healthy all year round. If you’re feeling peckish and fancy a snack, we recommend always packing a bag of nuts and seeds as they’re packed full of energy and healthy fats, or alternatively, most station and airport outlets sell a selection of fruits and yoghurt.
Studies show that if you lose as little as an hour and a half off your usual sleep pattern, business travellers can be up to a third less alert the following day. If you have an early flight to catch then ensure you’re heading to bed at an appropriate time, with everything packed and ready to go when your alarm goes off. Packing efficiently and preparing ahead of your trip can ensure you have a peaceful, stress-free night’s sleep. It’s recommend that we try our best to obtain 7-9 hours of sleep per night in order to function normally the following day, and it’s best to get your rest in one uninterrupted cycle – although we appreciate that the life of the business traveller doesn’t always accommodate for this.
Many travellers spend hours in a variety of bed of varying sizes and comfort, or even napping at the airport, or in-flight on a lie-down bed. Combine this with adjusting to time zones and travel fatigue, you’ll have one very sleepy business traveller. A little known trick is to nap in 20 minute bursts, as too much sleep can actually leave you feeling even more fatigued. Further to this, Joan Rivers once said in an interview that she coped with jet-lag by adjusting her watch prior to take-off to show the time in her new destination. Over the course of her long-haul flight, her mind and body would adjust subtly, making the time transition a little less shocking once she arrived.
4. Invest in the right trip products
There are a number of cost-effective products on the market that will ensure you remain productive and healthy whilst you’re travelling. Noise cancelling headphones for example are a fantastic investment for a corporate traveller, allowing you to block out background noises and chatter for around £40 – £60. Without the typical sounds of travel around you, you should be able to concentrate on your work or get your head down for a nap, both of which are equally important for productivity.
Mobile hotspot devices are becoming increasingly popular for business travellers and are widely available to suit a number of budgets. They’re light and slim built, ideal for slipping into your jacket pocket until you have flight delay or a few hours in between meetings and you have an ever-increasing number of emails to reply to. One of the biggest burdens for business travellers is a lack of connectivity, particularly in hotel rooms; investing in a hotspot device will ensure you have Wi-Fi when you need it most. They’re great for remaining productive on the move, and for winding down in the evening in your hotel by using Facetime to call home.
Needless to say, a huge life saver for me whilst I’m travelling is my portable battery. A recent study online showed that 90% of business travellers carry a minimum of three electronic devices on them, so a portable power bank is an absolute life saver for those moments when your mobile or tablet is in desperate need of some extra battery life. They’re light-built, slim, compact boxes that you simply charge up for an hour or two whilst you’re at home or in the office, and once it’s charged, you can pop it in your travel bag and you’ll have yourself some emergency battery supply wherever you go! Most variations of these are built to sustain two USB ports, and one micro-port, so you are capable of charging almost any device you can think of, at the same time. In fact, with today’s power banks available on the market, one charge at home for a few hours will store enough power to charge the latest iPhone 6 fully, four or five times over. Depending on the brand, you can find these pretty much anywhere now for £20-£60.
5. Communicate with your colleagues
A crucial part of ensuring you have a productive trip is to keep your normal office-workload to a minimum. It’s pretty tricky to be on a flight for 9 hours whilst maintaining the expectation that you can also complete your day-to-day work simulataniously. Preparation is key to making sure you’ll have as little ad-hoc tasks to do whilst you’re in transit. Before you leave for your business trip, communicate with relevant members of staff and project teams to review deadlines and status updates. Be sure to emphasise to your team that you’ll be unavailable during the times of X, Y or Z, and to delegate any enquiries, internal or external, to a colleague. It’s also efficient to set a method in which you’d like to be contacted in the case of a work-related emergency. Perhaps by text message or by emails marked Urgent – so in between travelling or meetings, you know exactly which communications require your immediate attention.