August 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio August 2002 Current Issue
August 2002 Back to BasicsPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

Back to Basics

By Louise M. Felsher, CMM, CMP


How to use your traveling time efficiently and still keep your sanity

Achieving efficiency on the road is one of the neatest tricks a planner can learn. The following are a number of ways to maximize your time while keeping on top of the details.

Try asking your employer to pay for a business lounge membership such as American’s Admiral’s Club ($450 or 60,000 miles). Joining generally allows you to bring up to two colleagues along to the lounge, where you can set up in comfortable chairs and focus on the tasks to come. Many of these clubs offer meeting rooms and workstations with phones.

More time and money savings come from lounge agents who expedite ticket and seat changes and move you to the head of the line on wait lists.

Your employer might not want to pay a few hundred dollars a year to get several thousand dollars in labor back. If you can’t get your organization to pay for the perk, consider cashing in miles for a membership.

To make working while flying easier, skip carrying bulky papers and put the information you need on CDs. Save your muscles for the weight of an extra laptop battery.

Ask to be seated at the bulkhead so a reclining passenger in front of you does not destroy your computer or make it impossible for you to open it. (But beware: Families with small children often are allocated bulkhead spaces.)

As you could be asked to turn your computer off at a moment’s notice, it’s wise to save, save and save again. Many programs can be configured to save changes every five minutes if you consistently forget to do it yourself.

Talking on the phone in the car is best only if you are not behind the wheel, so use drive time for organizing your thoughts. A small recorder helps you get the most from these moments. As a passenger, this is the perfect time to make nonconfidential phone calls or listen to messages.

Similarly, trains are great meeting venues for colleagues who are traveling together. Some rail lines even have meeting cars if you need space to spread out.

More moderately priced hotels are adding high-speed in-room Internet access, but travelers still should be prepared to work with a dial-up connection. To avoid lying on your stomach on the floor in order to make that connection, pack a long phone cord.

Before leaving home, set up all your Internet connections, such as firewall navigation, dial-up numbers (including your calling card, so you do not incur high hotel fees), country codes, etc.

A common pitfall for the working traveler is the double shift. Here’s the scenario: You finish your full day on local time, only to spend several hours communicating with the office, which is on California time; or you get up early to collaborate with East Coast colleagues when you’re on the West Coast. Resist the temptation to blow-torch the candle from both ends. Before traveling, set realistic hours with your office team. Limit yourself to one hour at the end or beginning of the day to catch up on the hottest priorities.

Keep to your usual workday pattern as much as possible. If you work an extra hour in the morning or in the evening at home, it’s OK to expect to put in an extra hour on the road; but don’t try to put in a full day running the meeting and then cram in a full day’s worth of desk work.

Keep your rest time sacred. Turn your phone OFF. And get a massage or exercise anything that relaxes you and takes your mind away from the job for a little while.

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