How the Traveling Entrepreneur Can Stay Organized When Out of Town
Many people are perfectly organized when they’re in their office. Emails get answered in an orderly fashion, and work gets done throughout the day. Yet, many entrepreneurs are often not in their home or virtual offices. Instead, they’re on the road trying to drum up business throughout the country.
Just trying to plan for the trip can lead to chaos, and then it’s even more difficult to get work done while out of town. Here are some tips to help traveling entrepreneurs plan and work during the trip.
Planning Your Week
When going to a conference or meeting, entrepreneurs may already have a booked scheduled. An itinerary will help keep track of session times, but these can also be used for actually scheduling some work time. Most smartphones have a calendar or reminder app. Before the flight is ever boarded, add the meeting sessions to the calendar, but then “schedule” free time for catching up on emails and getting work done. If it’s in the calendar, people are more likely to stick to their original plan.
If traveling out of the country, entrepreneurs should learn the local methods for travel, and if necessary, the bus and train schedules. Also, have some local currency on hand in case cash is required, and have smaller bills if you decide to split meals or cab rides with someone. Alert banks when traveling to avoid your bank cutting off your card due to suspicious spending activity.
While many people tend to wait to pack until the night before their trip, an entrepreneur on a business trip needs to verify that he has everything to make the trip successful. This should include laptop, business cards, contacts list, reports, presentations, business suits, USB drives, sunglasses, first-aid kit, etc., along with all personal items. For meetings, business suits or nice dresses will be required. Also, if attending a conference, trade show or meeting, check to see if there are special events that will require some extreme dress-up or casual clothing. Even if traveling to a warm client, bring a jacket or sweater and some long pants just in case it gets cold.
Create a list of everything that is needed for the trip ahead of time, and then begin packing a couple of days in advance. As items are packed, check them off the list. Verify that the luggage isn’t too heavy to avoid additional luggage fees.
How to Stay Organized While Gone
Besides keeping up with work and session schedules, down- and sleep time should also be scheduled. When traveling to a different time zone, try going to bed at an earlier or later time a week or two before – if possible. Then, add down/sleep time to the smartphone calendar, and stick with it. People get less done when they’re sleepy. Sleep is necessary to stay on track throughout the day.
During work time, shut off any external distractions. If necessary, head to the hotel room away from others, and turn the phone to silent unless it’s needed for work activities.
When traveling out of the country, make work calls using a system like Skype or Google Hangouts. These free or cheap alternatives will ensure that an entrepreneur is connected with the office without paying astronomical roaming or international phone fees.
If possible, delegate some work to others. Not everyone has an assistant or coworker, especially entrepreneurs. Utilize a Virtual Assistant while out of town to answer phone calls and take messages. This assistant can also answer general business questions and only forward important or emergency messages.
Get some work done on the plane. Certain airlines have WiFi, which can be used to catch up on emails and work while traveling to the destination. Store documents in a cloud drive like Google Docs or Dropbox. One advantage to a Google Docs type of system is that entrepreneurs will always have the latest iteration of a document even if someone else has made changes.
Finally, don’t be afraid to let things drop for a day or two, and then schedule a “make-up” day to catch up on emails and other work. Not everything can be done when traveling so instead schedule a day or two when travel is done to take care of everything else.
How do you stay organized when out of town? Do you have any additional rituals or tips for planning and keeping on track?