Time Management Training: 5 Ways to Turn Wasted Travel Time Into Productivity Time

Whether you're traveling a long distance or just have a one-hour commute, travel time can be turned into productivity time. The number one key is to simply plan ahead.

Planning ahead consists of many things. First of all, what projects do you need to work on? If you break those projects down into small bite-size pieces, you can typically get one or multiple pieces done during that travel time, and as your commute or travel is completed, you have the next batch of items waiting.

Here are a few ways to use your time productively when traveling.

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1. How can you best manage your time while traveling?

Travel time can be advantageous rather than an inconvenience because you can have a minimal amount of interruptions. One simple trick I found is to put the items I need to work on while commuting into separate folders. One folder might consist of staff items to review and various reports that need proofreading. The second folder has several files that need to be reviewed and signed off on for approval. The third folder has one contract that needs to be read and edited or highlighted for various concerns that need further discussion. My fourth folder—my favorite—which is old magazines or article clippings that I can use to either sharpen skills or catch up on enjoyed reading. By having everything clearly organized like that, I can pull out the appropriate folder based on how much time and privacy I have in the area where I'm waiting, or depending on the vehicle I'm traveling in.

An additional thing to notice while traveling is what mini tasks you can put into a pocket of your briefcase or enter into your day planner. For example, you can sort through the mail and sign off on things that need action. You can write quick notes to colleagues and associates. You can use the recording device on your phone to dictate letters (this works great when you're in a driving situation or when you just want to sit back and take a break from texting and typing). Of course our laptops and Wifi make quick responses easier than ever, as long as you're focused on which of the priority items to cross off on your list. Business reading can finally get caught up on, and travel time can be a great opportunity to work on your business or on building your department. During this time if you preplan certain questions that need answering or challenges that need solving you can use this uninterrupted time to think creatively and sketch out solutions. All uninterrupted blocks of time are a great opportunity to think and problem solve.

2. How can you make the most of trip delays and use this time productively?

First, it is always important to anticipate potential problems that could arise during travel. These problems might include construction, traffic, speed limits—the list goes on. In planning for potential problems, it is therefore important that you give yourself more time than needed to get to your destination. Therefore if a delay does occur, you are still on time. Second, carry a planner or traveler that lists everything you would like to get done. You can begin to check off items on this list during the delay; or you can review, revise or add to the list you've already created.

3. How Proper Planning Increases Productivity

A great planning tool came from observing one of my top sales training clients. We wanted to increase sales production time and one way of doing that was to minimize prospecting during peak sales hours. So instead of having him prospect during peak calling hours and peak appointment generating hours he used his iPhone to gather info on LinkedIn about key prospects while commuting. Once again, through proper planning, he also had certain publications and lists downloaded onto his laptop that he needed to review for prospecting opportunities as well.

When he had a weak signal on his phone, he was able to go to the folder—the folders on his laptop—open them up and do his prospect research. During his 50 minute commute each day he consistently generated 12-20 prospects that he was excited about. As he entered the office each morning, he started his day by pursuing new opportunities and then rewarded himself a little later in the morning by pursing the slightly warmer leads that were already in his system. Picking up approximately four to five hours of uninterrupted prospecting time essentially gave him an entire extra day in each work week. Not surprisingly his sales went up by well over 25%.

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4. How to Avoid Filled Inboxes, Back-to-Back Meetings, and the Disorganization After a Trip

Because you have done much of the trip's follow-up work on the plane (you have recorded memos in your lap top or in shorthand memos to your secretary), you should be prepared for what your secretary and team have not taken care of by the time you return to the office. It is key that you take advantage of the time on the return flight to send follow-up memos to the team so that once you return, you can stay focused on tasks at hand. If you find your desk filled with paperwork that has piled up during your time away, take time to find a quiet place that will allow you to focus and catch up on work. Be sure that the place is quiet enough to avoid interruptions, to allow for uninterrupted work time to maximize the amount of work you can get done.

5. How Salespeople Can Make Their Time More Productive

It is not uncommon for salespeople to spend 45% of their working time either traveling or waiting for clients. With this being said, planning is key. Salespeople should be sure to write daily objectives and goals as well as a plan of action for achieving them each day.

Certain days should be allotted for certain territories or tasks. Anticipate delays by giving yourself more time than needed to get to your destination. Use your laptop to keep notes; record important information throughout the day such as questions or decisions. Update your calendar immediately with follow-up dates. Your plan sheet should include information for every client—the person to visit, where, when, details of what you plan to discuss, decisions to make. Keep this information updated to avoid repeating a call. Salespeople can also use small breaks in between calls to get even more work done. When waiting for an appointment, use this time to take care of paperwork that doesn't require unbroken concentration. With five of six breaks a day, this is nearly one hour of work time added to the day.

Mark Anthony presents sales training and customer service workshops. For more tips or information on training and one-on-one coaching, contact him at
888-792-5128, or Google+.

E-mail: info@salestraininganddevelopment.com