I have completed my presentation on the flight. I have completed my presentation in the hotel room. I have completed my presentation in the car on the way to the presentation. I have completed my presentation during the other presentations before my presentation.
When you spend most of your time on the road, you often have to take your work with you. This seems to inevitably result in a frantic effort to complete a Powerpoint slide in a moving vehicle or a mad dash to the nearest copy shop. What better way to start the day than gathering with your colleagues at the breakfast buffet to make some last-minute changes?
Working while travelling presents some difficult challenges. Here are thoughts on how to be productive when you’re on the move:
You have to be flexible…literally.
A four-hour flight is an opportunity to get your work done with no interruptions. Unless, of course, you’re in seat 46E and the guy in 45E decides to put his seat back. Even working on one of today’s smaller netbooks can prove tricky when the tray table is up near your chest.
While some people are able to contort and concentrate, you should never assume you will be able to finish your work on the plane unless you’ve snagged a seat in the front of the plane or can do it old school with a pen and paper.
Beware the boutique hotel.
I’ve fallen many times for the seductive website of a trendy new establishment. When I worked in the agency environment, it was considered uncool to stay at the Marriott (ugh) or the Hilton (snicker). But after multiple experiences of rearranging furniture to find a spare outlet or fighting through a blaring lounge scene to get to my room, I now seek the sanity and business focus that a major U.S. hotel chain can provide.
I know I can count on a desk with ample working space, a speedy Internet connection and a quiet place to meet with colleagues. Call me boring but I’ll be getting my work done hassle-free while you try to find a business centre between the aromatherapy spa and the lounge with board games in it.
Bonus hotel warning: Free Internet usually means slooooow Internet. Keep that in mind if you’re going to be doing Wi-Fi-dependent work.
Somebody give a Nobel Prize to whoever invented the USB thumb drive.
Remember the days of having to burn something on a CD for your colleagues? Or even better, remember floppy disks? Now you can get gigabytes of information onto a tiny USB drive, which probably has the logo of the company that sponsored the last convention on it.
Swag value aside, I always travel with a few of these babies. They’re incredibly useful for not only transferring files to your co-worker, but also for handing over a copy of the freshly edited presentation to your client.
Get it done before you go.
My best piece of advice for working on the road? Don’t work on the road. There are so many unknown variables once you leave the office that you are inviting disaster – and a ton of stress – by leaving without getting things done.
Who knows, you may be able to actually enjoy a bit of the city you’re visiting. I suggest you check out the new bar at the boutique hotel where your co-workers insisted on staying.