Have you ever made a trip to the grocery store when you
were hungry? Have you ever made a trip
to the grocery store when you were hungry, without a grocery list of
ingredients that actually need? It makes
for some interesting (and expensive) shopping.
I bought $50 worth of different cheeses once, because I had a craving;
how crazy is that? I think the total for
the whole cart that day was well over $120 and when I got home, I realized that
the really important stuff (milk, bread, eggs, toilet paper) wasn’t there at
all. *sigh* I should have made a list.
Your first business trip can be like this. You can get so excited about the trip that
you might lose focus on what you really need to accomplish. Even if you’re being sent along as an
apprentice, there is a host of things you’ll want to learn while you’re out so
it’s best to build a list of goals.
Write down a checklist of things you’ll definitely want to accomplish,
as well as things you’ll want to learn or take back for yourself.
Pace yourself; don’t make the list so aggressive that
you’ll never get it done. Organize it
into a reasonable number of goals per day, prioritize it by the more important
things, then add a couple of “nice to have” bonus items that you can pursue if
your day goes well. I do this using the
“Task List” in my mobile phone, so items are easily checked off as the day goes
It’s ok to put some “good stuff” of your list, too. Hershey’s kisses may not always be on my
grocery list, but somehow they always seem to make it into my cart. See some sights while you’re there. Business travel will get really old quite
quickly if you, for example, stay in San Francisco for a week and never leave
your hotel or the office. Make it a
point to eat somewhere locally, get outside to take a walk for an hour in the
early morning or later in the afternoon.
Try to see at least one local landmark, you may not have time to take a
full tour, but even if you drive by and see some of this country’s icons from a
distance, it’s worth it.
Before I leave the store, I call my wife quickly with my cell
phone. The grocery list may be complete,
but she can usually think of something at the last minute that we need. Communicating back to the home office is
something a lot of travelers fail to do.
Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you call your boss every hour with
detailed updates, but I usually summarize the general events of the day in an
email and send it back home. You want to
let your boss know that you’re being productive. Also, you’ll be surprised how many of the
trip’s details you’ll forget when, after you get home Friday, you indulge yourself
on a weekend, and then come in Monday morning and are asked to summarize the
events of the previous week. Keeping a
daily summary or “event journal” really helps you organize the entire week
later. If you want to be sent on another
trip, you need to make sure that the “senders” consider you to be a valuable
asset while you’re gone.
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