Between airports, convention centers and hotel restaurants, there isn’t much time for dealing with the home office when traveling for work.
According to the study, "Traveler Friction: Insights from U.S. Road Warriors," conducted by MMGY Global, 42% of road warrior respondents said they "find it hard to keep up with my workload while traveling."
We surveyed some of our most consistent road warriors on our client services team and the sentiment was much the same, but they helped give us some tips for managing the ever-increasing workloads and the mountain of emails streaming in to their devices at all hours.
“I’m right on top of that Rose!” - While you may not want to emulate the boss character in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, it is always a good idea to assign some responsibilities to a colleague when you’ll be away. The art of delegation takes mutual trust, communication and the ability to let go (and this may be the hardest for some of you).
Our client services or sales teams are designed to have multiple layers of support and so it seems to be a natural occurrence for us. However, there are times when even our most seasoned road warriors fail to ask for help and find themselves working non-stop during business travel and regretting it (and the repercussions).
App Happy – In talking with our teams, we realized smart phones come in strong with the workload assist. The ability to respond to emails and be in constant communication is the advantage we heard. The problem that came up - there are just too many tools to choose from. There is an app for everything including project management, time management, list-making, communication, organization and so on and so forth. The tip we gleaned from this one is not to get too app happy as every tool is not right for every person and can end up creating more work for you. Even as a marketer who relies heavily on digital applications, I still use my old trusty notepads for everything from to-do lists to note-taking (and for doodles, which by the way, have been proven to help improve focus, creativity and memory according to some studies).
We got a lot of recommendations for organizational tools, but you truly have to find the thing that works for you and your team. One size does not fit all.
Gogo, Go Away – Just because you are traveling for work does not mean you should be online and on the phone every hour of every day. While it’s important not to leave holes in communication for clients and ongoing projects, there really isn’t a need to buy that in-flight internet. Take that time to decompress – read a book (yes, they still print these), grab a tacky magazine and find out how much you and Jennifer Lawrence are alike (OMG I drink iced coconut lattes too!).
The point is not to get burned out as then you really won’t be productive when you get back to the office. One way most of us are NOT like celebrities is that we don’t have the luxury of taking a two-week reprieve at a spa to treat “exhaustion”. I admit, I did just take a break to Google, “spas in Atlanta”.
Get Off the Grid – I’m not suggesting you build a below-ground bunker and hide-out, but will the world fall apart if you don’t travel to every single event, trade show or business meeting? If you feel strongly that you need to be there to support a customer or ensure everything runs smoothly, try limiting your time away. A study by Ashfield Meetings & Events that surveyed health care professionals (HCPs) and asked about their meeting attendance found that, “the maximum number of average hours they are willing to travel [for a single meeting] is a total of 3.65 days.”
Like these health care meeting attendees, knowing your limits is a good first step. Think about how many days you can be away from work and home responsibilities and how many days you will really be effective on the show floor or at the event. With experience, you may discover that a full day on the show floor leads to better results than 3 days when you don’t have the ability to work at your normal full capacity.
And the best advice we heard from our team – don’t beat yourself up too much if you can’t do it all. You are human, things will fall through the cracks either at work or in your personal life and that is OK. As has been said, tomorrow is a new day.