I am on another flight, in another seat, on a different airline, sitting next to a mix cultures, generations and assorted folk with assorted purposes. One thing, however, is a constant after my near 15 years of constant business travel. My laptop is open, I am working, I am listening to music to drown out the crying parents and screaming kids (usually interchangeable) and, yet, I am focused. I get a lot of work done up here at around 14,000 metres. I also get a lot done in the hotels I stay at, the airport terminals I find myself in and various other locations where I can connect with my devices or take out my laptop and get some real work done. Funnily enough I am at my most productive out and about. It’s a state of mind – a can-do attitude and it most certainly impacted how I have developed myself as a Professional and as a Leader. It’s not always been the case, with tough lessons learned on the way. Here are the top 5 pointers that have helped me stay productive, wherever I am:

  • Start with a clear purpose, every day
    When I am travelling, I know I have an hour here and there, a few hours flying, 30 minutes in a hotel reception. It focuses the mind. I can filter the distractions and do I what need to do.
  • Learn to filter out the noise
    It’s noisy on a plane, in a terminal, on a train, at a hotel reception area etc – Add to this the multiple demands and items on your list and it all adds up to a lot of noise. In these situations we have to be focused on doing what we need to do, rather than what we want to do.
  • Time for your business, yourself, your team, your family
    Getting points 1 and 2 right help manage this point. The curse of the business traveller can be the “always on” switch. Days blend into nights and into a mind-set of how perfect the time is to get work done – its dead time after all. True – to a point. But no one is good to anyone burned out. Leave time for the other important things:
    i) Instead of planes and hotels in faceless cities, I now ensure I engage better with my surroundings – it’s good for the heart and the head.
    ii) My team need time to talk, seek input and share. It is easier now than ever to stay connected and Skype + Go-To-Meeting are my best friends for staying in touch.
    iii) I spend more quality time with my family than I ever did. The pressures are still the same, it is just that I have learned with experience, feedback and practice to manage myself and my time differently.
  • Attitude is everything
    As a business traveller in these ultra connected times I know I can find space, do what I need and get to the important things. This helps me define my purpose, eliminate distractions and engage my positive productivity mind-set.
  • Everyone needs help – It was scary to be found wanting a few years ago and I realised that it didn’t matter how ‘senior’ I had become, I needed some coaching and advice. I wholeheartedly entered into it. This approach helped me balance socially & emotionally, commercially & operationally. Not necessarily in that order!  I couldn’t recommend it more to Leaders and Managers at any level. It has made a profound difference to me. Never be too proud to ask for feedback or help – you never know what benefits it can bring, particularly in terms of personal productivity and, perhaps, the positive knock-on effect to the productivity of your team.

How can this 5-point productivity plan help you? I’d like to hear your thoughts and productivity war stories. We all have them!