In 2012, I sat through 135 commercial flights and spent 195 nights in hotels around the world. Having the ability to focus on priorities while I’m traveling is critical to my own productivity. Getting things done can’t only happen at my office.
All too often, people lose the productive edge due to the stress of work and travel. With a little bit of forethought, you can make travel time your most productive time.
Here are four ways I make sure to stay productive while on the road:
1. Put all event details on your portable calendar.
Over the past 12 years I’ve traveled a lot and I continually see people stressed out in lines at airports or frustrated at hotel front desk clerks because they don’t have their travel information on hand.
With information for things like flights, hotels and car rentals easily at hand in case I need it, I can focus on priorities like client work, strategic thinking and article writing.
The way I do this is by formatting calendar entries to include everything I might need when checking into a hotel, for example, or arriving at the airport. If I’m catching an 8 a.m. flight to New York, my calendar entry reads: “8am AA#34 LAX-JFK rl#: GUA37W.” (That is: departure time, airline and flight number, departure-destination and record locator number.)
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2. Keep all your ideas in one place.
You achieve massive results in your business based on the ideas and possibilities you notice and develop. Do that more efficiently and you can decide what to focus on most effectively. It’s easy to lose track of ideas that come to you when you’re on the go.
For years now, I’ve used Evernote.com, which offers an app that allows you to keep track of pictures, notes or sound-bites all in one place. When I collect someone’s business card, jot something on a bar napkin, take notes in a meeting or even write on a flip chart, I snap a smartphone picture and email it to my Evernote account.
3. Use keyboard shortcuts to type less and say (a lot) more.
Being on the road means I have even less time to follow up on emails. I’ve set up keyboard shortcuts on my iPhone and use a similar application called TypeIt4Me on my laptop. Using keyboard shortcuts, two or three letter macros expand into words, sentences and even paragraphs to answer the most frequently asked questions I receive.
Here are just a few shortcuts I suggest you set up immediately:
- em: email address (I haven’t typed those 22 characters in years!)
- mo: my mobile phone #
- tu: thank you
- sig: your complete signature to add to the end of emails. (Consider making sig1, sig2, sig3 to have different levels of information to send as appropriate.)
I even have a keyboard shortcut — “nmp” — that auto-magically becomes a 374-word email with an article titled, “No More Procrastination.”
According to my computer stats, I’ve used 15,022 abbreviations, saving me a total of 2,853,202 keystrokes over the past five years. Even at one keystroke a second, that’s given me back “about” 790 hours of time.
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4. Stay offline while flying home.
When I’m flying back home to Los Angeles, I stay off the airplane’s Wi-Fi. Instead, I write emails throughout the flight. My goal: When I land, I’ve written 100 forward-motion and catch-up emails, knowing those will go out when I connect to the internet.
I use Apple Mail so that I can do this offline with full access to all my folders. I often get twice as much work done on a plane as I would in my office because I’m not online.
Getting that much accomplished on my trip back gives me the freedom to really enjoy being home — the greatest gift of all.