1. PLAN AHEAD.
Planning is essential. Schedule in your calendar all the time-related stuff you need to have on hand (flights, meetings, events, etc.) along with the information on every thing (flight numbers, hotel reservation, contacts, addresses, phone numbers, etc.)
Once you have a clear idea of the schedule that awaits you, how do you want to use the free time you’ll have? Get to know the city? See a show? Attend an event? Work on a personal project? Devise a new product? Collect all the information about the things you would like to do.
Charge batteries of all devices that will be needed while traveling and do not forget to bring the chargers. Of course, make sure you will have internet connection during your trip.
2. SYNCHRONIZE YOUR DATA
Synchronize the data you will need while traveling among all your devices. Make sure that everything you have planned is available on your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop, or printed on paper if you do not use much technology.
Make a local copy of your data, in case there are times when you have no internet connection, or simply if you fancy working offline—which is a great idea to stay focused and not to fall into some temptations.
3. CONTROL YOUR ENVIRONMENT
When you’re out there, the environment becomes unpredictable and difficult to control. Maybe you thought that you would review certain documents during a train journey that will last a couple of hours. But you never know who will sit next to you, so I recommend you to always have with you headphones and music to help you concentrate while protecting you from a noisy environment. Depending on the person and the work to be undertaken, the type of music can be very different, and that’s always a personal choice.
4. DO NOT FORGET YOUR NOTEBOOK
Always carry a notebook. Being productive doesn’t only mean performing tasks. There are times when it’s better to reflect, to think, to get some ideas, to give them shape and to make decisions. In such moments, take out your notebook, write something down, draw, make diagrams, etc. about everything you can think of. You will save a lot of time when it comes the moment of “doing”.
5. DEDICATE TIME TO YOURSELF
Work trips are often grueling. After a hard day of work with a client and before you get to do other things, take a break. Take a walk through the city, go for a run (always bring your sneakers and some sportswear, that will motivate you to do sports), or simply relax in the hotel. Distract yourself first to stay more focused later.
6. WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
When you travel your diet changes radically, and that affects your productivity. Different timetables, more hearty meals in restaurants and a feeling of heaviness that only invites to sleep. Try to eat healthy and light, many times a day (incidentally, you should do that even when you are not traveling.) That way you’ll be full of energy at all times and will never feel heavy or sleepy. Do not feel bad for asking the waiter for a grilled fish with a salad instead of the usual hyper-calorific menu.
7. PREPARE CONTINGENCIES
You need to be ready for anything. When traveling, things happen, there are plans that change, flights that are delayed, etc. That creates opportunities for unexpected free time that, if you’re not prepared, will be unproductive and a cause of frustration.
To do this, I suggest that you follow an organizational method such as GTD, which helps you decide what to do at the very moment something new happens, and reorganize tasks, redefine priorities and regain control when circumstances change.