The Entrepreneur's Guide to Getting Work Done While Traveling
by smallbiztrends, Guest Blogger
- Created: May 8, 2014, 9:35 am
If you travel in your work, it can be a challenge to get much done in between catching flights, attending meetings and trying to get a little shuteye. And yet, the wheels of your business are still churning.
Here’s how to stay on top of your email and task list so that it doesn’t overwhelm you when you get back into the office.
Don’t Overestimate Your Capacity
Most people vastly overestimate how much work they will get done while traveling.
I find I almost never have as much time to handle my regular workload while traveling as I expect to. That’s because we don't account for all the little things that eat up our time (such as trying to find a restaurant to get something to eat, figuring out how to get online at that hotspot, dealing with a slow connection in your hotel room, or trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B in your rental car in an unfamiliar city).
We also won’t have our same level of energy, because travel can sap it.
So step one to managing your business while traveling is not to assume you can carry on much of your regular workload remotely while you’re away. Anyway, you won’t be able to enjoy your conference or have productive meetings if you have to spend all your time holed up in a hotel room trying to keep your business going.
Plan Several Weeks Out
You must plan in advance, at least several weeks out. If you wait until two days before you’re about to leave, you won’t have enough time to make arrangements.
Take care of any assignments that will be due during your travel period by working harder ahead of time.
Let your clients know they shouldn’t expect any work from you that week, and for a day or two after you return. Certainly, you may be available for a phone call or to answer a quick email, but you don’t want them pressing you to deliver that huge presentation or important proposal in the middle of your trip.
Hand Over the Keys
If you have staff, select someone to take your place in your absence. Sometimes delegating is the hardest part for business owners. However, consider this a good opportunity to evaluate whether an employee is ready for more responsibility on a permanent basis.
This person should be able to answer questions from clients and other employees, and handle any issues with confidence. Keep in mind, your replacement will likely need more than a day or two to learn what he or she needs to know to take over for you, so plan accordingly.
Use Snippets of Time Wisely
If you’re traveling to attend a conference, consider planning some time to work quietly in your hotel room. You certainly don’t want to travel just to sit in a hotel room and work, but some conference schedules build in extra time. Rather than frittering it away by sitting in a lounge at a convention center for 2 hours, use it to get some work done.
Don’t neglect plane time on long flights. Many planes offer wi-fi, so subscribe to a service like GoGo Inflight Internet if you need an Internet connection to work. And if nothing else, plane time is great for strategy planning and thinking about your business.
You can also wake up an hour earlier to sort through your email before your day begins.
Prioritize Your Emails
In a given week, you might receive hundreds of emails. When you’re busy with work travel, focus just on the important emails. Save the rest to read when you return.
The easiest method is to quickly skim the emails in your inbox and delete any newsletters or promotional emails. Then open the ones from your clients or contacts based on the level of urgency or importance you feel they have.
Google Mail has a Priority Inbox feature that allows you to sort your mail based on who they’re from and level of priority.
Don’t Forget Your Email Autoresponder
If your contacts are accustomed to receiving a response via email from you quickly, it’s wise to let them know you might be slower to respond while traveling. Set up your autoresponder to let people who email you know you are traveling, with limited access to email.
While you won’t not get as much done while traveling as on a typical work week, you don’t have to come back to the office to stacks of work to do.
With a little planning, you can better manage your workload, and ensure the smooth continuation of your business, no matter where you happen to be.
About the Author
My name is Anita Campbell. I run online communities and information websites reaching over 6 million small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, including Small Business Trends, a daily publication about small business issues, and BizSugar.com, a small business social media site.
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