Business travel isn’t easy. In order to make the most of the money you’re spending, you wind up sacrificing sleep, cramming in as many meetings as possible and adopting a pace of life that you’d never be able to maintain at home. It’s severe, it’s unpleasant and it’s a simple fact of life on the road. Your personal well-being tends to be the first casualty. Diet and exercise are cast aside, as you sacrifice them to business objectives. Sleep doesn’t last long, either – I can’t count how many six-hour nights quickly slipped to three.
What often gets overlooked, however, is the impact that business travel can have on your business habits. We all lament the personal effects, but we tend to miss those that matter most to why we’re on the road to begin with! Hectic schedules and long lists of business needs can ultimately cause your performance to suffer.
Let’s take a look at five good business habits that are jeopardized when you’re on the road:
1. Preparation: with a crammed schedule, you aren’t as likely to have time to review your notes, reflect on meetings you’ve just completed and get ready for those still on the agenda. Even with the most rigorous note-taking, you’re bound to miss something. Instead of packing your agenda, protect your results by building in enough time to prepare and reflect.
2. Visibility: part of making an in-person visit is to be seen. Otherwise, you could get a lot done through phone calls, email and video conferencing.
3. Communication: cram your schedule, and you won’t just miss out on being seen – you also won’t be heard. Even if you throw etiquette to the win and work your BlackBerry feverishly during meetings, you still won’t be able to communicate effectively. Your over-ambitious agenda will cause your day-to-day work to suffer, and it will also impact the people you work with. Leave a little time to make sure you give the folks back at the office what they need.
4. Collaboration: if people can’t see or hear you, they certainly won’t be able to share ideas effectively with you. A travel agenda that’s too busy will cost your company your perspective, and that’s part of why you were hired. Make sure you leave some room to work actively with your colleagues back at the office to keep existing projects on track – and share your ideas with people who want them.
5. Common sense: related to fatigue, hunger and everything else … you do stupid things when you aren’t at your best. Basic decision making and judgment calls suffer, which can cost you anything from an embarrassing moment to the rest of your career.