Insights, Watercooler

How to Stay Productive & On Task When Traveling for Work

Waiting for the flight

Traveling for work is a common part of our corporate culture. In fact, 1.3 million business trips occur each day in the United States alone, and Millennials are set to take 20 percent more business trips in the next 12 months. While traveling has its perks (expensed meals, the thrill of a new city and a change of scenery), it can also pose stress on our daily routines and productivity levels with both our work and personal lives. Planning your next work trip? Here are some tips to keep you on top of your game.

Work Life

1. Leverage the Right Tools

Tracy Komlos, founder of Pangea Dreams, uses collaborative tools like G-Suite to help her stay organized and connected with her team while on the fly. Apps like HubDoc help her stay on top of her receipts and expenses while traveling so she doesn’t lose track of her finances.

Komlos recommends certain paid tools such as Streak to help schedule and follow up with emails and clients. She also uses a productivity planner which helps her stay accountable and gives her a productivity score of the day.

GoodNote is another great tool that allows you to travel with your digital briefcase while leaving all your paperwork at home.

2. Outsource What You Can

Komlos suggests outsourcing help when you can. Hiring contractors or virtual assistants is one way she outsources the work she needs done to run her business.

If you have active engagements happening at home, make arrangements to have those taken care of while you’re away so your mind can focus on the task at hand while traveling.

3. Take Advantage of “Down Times”

When you have unexpected breaks in your travel schedule, whether it’s between flights or on the beach, use this time to do low-energy tasks rather than sitting on Facebook. For example, catching up on readings, editing photos or answering emails and other administrative tasks. These 20-30 minutes during the day can save you tons of time down the line.

4. Keep Detailed “To-Do” Lists

Make a list of things you know you need to do before you leave,  and make those your priority. Creating a detailed checklist of everything you need to do before you leave, and everything that needs to be done while away, will help you feel in control. Since most of our “to-dos” have become tech-dependent, always plan to stay in a place with a strong Wi-Fi signal.

Personal Life

1. Practice Mindfulness When Possible

Keep a gratitude journal and make the effort to stay consistent. Books like “The 5 Minute Journal” can help you mentally prepare for each day.

Give yourself enough time to sleep and recharge, and honor when you’re feeling like you need a break. Self-care is paramount when juggling your busy life!

2. Keep a Routine (as Much as Possible)

If you wake up early at home, don’t use this work travel trip as an excuse to sleep in… leave that for the weekend! Set boundaries around time-on versus time-off when at work, and do your best to honor them.

Get yourself in the habit of waking up early and getting the heavy lifting out of the way. This will give you more hours to get things done and boost your speed throughout the day.

3. Mind Your Health

Try to avoid buffet breakfasts, or buffet anything for that matter, while away. Watch your consumption of alcohol as well. Unhealthy eating and drinking makes you tired, and can hinder your sense of discipline!

If you’re trying to squeeze in workouts, morning times are your best bet. The longer you wait in the day to hit the gym, the easier it becomes for you to blow it off. If you’re not feeling the gym, take advantage of your new travel surroundings, get outdoors and explore the new city you’re in!

The most important part of staying productive while traveling for work, whether it comes to your personal or professional life, is managing your schedule by planning ahead, and staying disciplined. Find a strategy that works for you, and hold yourself accountable. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail!

Stacy Pollack is a Learning Specialist with an MA in Educational Technology. She is passionate about building leadership programs that engage and contribute to the success of her organization. She loves to share her perspective on workplace development, human resources, career building, and networking for success. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at

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