There are two kinds of thoughts most people have when they plan a business trip.
Most adults going back to college fall into the latter category. Even if you enjoy traveling, business trips can be a challenge when they cause you to play catch up at the office and with your course work. Maybe you feel the time spent in meetings or conferences is not worth the headache when you get back home.
Business travel? No, thank you.
Of course, saying no to a business trip is not an option for most of us. The good news is that you can incorporate a few productivity strategies to make sure that your time is well spent.
Here are seven tactics to help you get schoolwork done on your next business trip, so you can leave excited and fully prepared for anything.
1. Get comfortable.
Working in an unfamiliar environment may prove difficult, particularly when it comes to unforeseen distractions. Perhaps the places you would like to work - a noisy coffee shop or all-too-quiet hotel room - just aren’t what you are used to. Instead, think about the kind of atmosphere you focus best. Do you prefer your home office? Try your hotel room. Or are you more productive at your work station? Then try the business center at your hotel. Wherever you decide to finish your schoolwork, keep the atmosphere consistent in a way that makes sense for you.
2. Prioritize your schoolwork.
Obviously, you may not complete your usual workload if a conference, business meeting or industry event cuts into your school schedule. But it can be even more difficult to get any schoolwork done at all without a plan. Before you leave, map out which assignments must be done while you are away. Consider when and how you can finish them. For example, use an airport layover to write, or a long car ride to listen to an audiobook. If you are traveling with a coworker or boss, share your plans with them (pending your comfort level). You will find that most people are very understanding and respectful of your needs.
3. Budget your time.
Whether you have back-to-back meetings, or more downtime than you thought, use your break time wisely. Before you leave, review your schedule and figure out what schoolwork can be completed when. You may find several short breaks in your schedule allow you to catch up on discussion board postings for your online courses. Or the extra time between conference sessions is ideal for brainstorming ideas for your next project. At the end of the day, using all those little blocks of time will add up in your favor.
4. Don’t take on more than you can handle.
When you travel long distances, you may end up draining more energy than you anticipated. Consider how much schoolwork you will really be able to handle throughout your business trip. Do you think that you will be able to write a paper after a 6-hour flight? Or sit quietly and study after a set of long, exhausting meetings? Be careful not overexert yourself. Work on only those assignments you know can be done without added stress or sacrificing sleep.
5. Prepare for the unexpected.
Remember the old adage, “If something can go wrong, it will”? Your travel plans may change. Completely. So the next best thing is to prepare for every worst-case scenario. Bring schoolwork that can be done offline and uploaded later. Get an external phone charger so you do not have to choose between draining your phone’s battery or getting behind in your schoolwork. If you are willing to do a little extra planning, you can turn what would have been a frantic day into a productive one.
6. Be WiFi ready.
One of the risks of working on-the-go is the chance that you may not have reliable Internet access. Neglecting to take care of any Internet connectivity issues ahead of time simply isn’t worth the added distraction and time lost later on. Flights and train rides are great opportunities for long, uninterrupted time to work on assignments - but they can quickly become aggravating if the WiFi you need isn’t available. Instead, book travel arrangements that include Internet service, or get a WiFi card for your computer. Or, contact your service provider to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot. There are also plenty of free apps you can download to locate free, hidden WiFi networks in your area.
Leaving your responsibilities in someone else’s hands can be difficult. But if you do not want to get behind at work or at home, delegation is key. Your coworkers or employees can handle any non-critical tasks that come in while you are out of the office. At home, ask your family to pick up a few extra household tasks while you are away. One less responsibility on your plate is one more opportunity for you to focus on your schoolwork.
Written by Thomas Edison State University