Essentials for a Traveling Work Environment

Whether you travel the majority of the time, or once in a while, having what you need to be productive on the road is a must. Carol Margolis, founder of SmartWomenTravelers, a recently launched community of businesswomen travelers provides her ‘must-have’ list (apart from phone, PDA and laptop), whether you’ll be working in your office in the sky as well as hotel room desks, client offices and meeting rooms.

Air card

"Connect virtually anywhere and anytime with your air card (available from major mobile phone providers). While there is a monthly cost for air card usage, it is a small price for having the ability to be more effective more of the time.  No more downtime while at the airport waiting for your flight or sitting in a taxi.  And it’s less expensive than paying for hotel internet if you’re in a hotel for more than a few days each month."

Scanner

"I love, love, love my scanner from NeatReceipts. For years I have spent my Sunday evenings creating my expense reports.  No more!  I carry this scanner with me each week (usually in my luggage, as my laptop tote is overstuffed), and scan each receipt at the end of the day, or at least before I get home at the end of the week.  This scanner is also great for saving any type of document, typed or handwritten.  I scan every business card that I collect along my travels so that I have them in document format rather than stuffed in my bag.

Calendar

"I’d be lost (and very late!) without my calendar in which I track each business and personal appointment for the upcoming months.  I use Microsoft Outlook, and there are lots of other calendars available for your laptop.  If you’d like a calendar which you can share with family, friends or coworkers, Google’s Calendar (Google's Calendar) is a great tool. You can easily add events, send invitations, share with friends and family (or keep things to yourself), and search across the web for events you might enjoy.  You can transfer and sync calendar entries between Microsoft Outlook 2007 and Google Calendar (How to Sync Outlook and Google Calendar)."

Task or To-Do List Software

"Any women who travels for work has a lot of to-do’s to keep track of.  Career, family, personal, friends, charity… and on and on the list goes.   I keep track of every task that I need to get done, whether it’s a task for today or sometime in the future.  If I don’t list it, I’ll forget it.  I use Microsoft Outlook for my Tasks as well as my Calendar, and there are lots of task or to-do list programs available.  I created categories for my tasks so I can easily sort them.  I set due dates for each, with as realistic a date as possible.  Some are hard due dates that must be met; while others are ‘when I get a chance.'"

I also have several tasks for each day, with reminders, that are for me and help me keep focused on my priorities:
1. Review my goals
2. Plan my day
3. Take my vitamins and supplements
4. Eat healthy
5. Work out
6. Meditate
7. Take five steps towards my goals

Prioritizing the task list can be done by entering a numerical sequence before each task, or assigning an A, B, C, D code to it, with subcategories of A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, etc.  I also really like FranklinCovey’s PlanPlus Software, which makes it very easy for me to prioritize my tasks.  An easy drag-and-drop between A, B and C columns lets me prioritize in a few seconds, and the tasks also display in this priority when I print my daily calendar page.   One of the nice features is a "PlanPlus Home" screen that shows you everything in one view - Prioritized Daily Task List, Calendar, and email.  You can download a free trial at FranklinCovey.com."

Skype

"VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is becoming more and more widespread, and saving wireless minutes and long distance bills are reason enough to sign up for Skype.  A simple, small application that you can install on your laptop, Skype makes it easy and fun to call your friends and family around the globe and keep on talking without looking at the clock.  Calls between Skype users are free.  Call a non-Skype contact and the rates are low.  I use Skype when I’m doing global travel and need to call back to the States, and the quality has been amazing."

Other features of Skype include conference calling, text messaging, file transfers, and your own personal Skype phone number."

TNW: What are your tools to keep you productive while on the road?

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