At the end of last year, my travel schedule exploded. All of a sudden I was gone for five weeks out of every six. I had several things come up: it was a busy conference season and I had to visit prospects, clients, and overseas employees.
One of the things I had to learn to do was optimize my travel schedule: I had to learn to make my travel time count. I started to realize that even though I’ve always had this philosophy of getting in and getting out, I wasn’t really doing a good job of picking when and where I needed to be.
For example, I had a conference where I was speaking. I went and participated in the conference prior to speaking. Then I spoke. And then I stayed for the rest of the conference before I came home.
As I looked at my travel schedule for this year, I realized that I need to do a better job of figuring out what I actually need to do versus what I can have other people do. I need to make my travel time count for more.
That conference I just mentioned was a four-day conference. There was no need for me to be there for the entire time. I needed to go in, give the talk, and get out. I could have spent two or three hours on either side of the talk, but I didn’t need to be there for the entire four days.
Those four days took away from the other priorities in my life: obligations at work and even being home at night for dinner. Those types of things are really important and they begin to wear you down when you’re not optimizing them.
Is it worth it to take a trip and only spend six to ten hours? On the other hand, at the end of the day, what does it cost to stay the entire time? It’s not just the financial costs. There are all sorts of other costs beyond those: time I haven’t spent with my family and other priorities I’m not keeping at work, to name a few.
That is something that I’m going to be optimizing more intentionally in 2014.