This so so fucking crucial. When you’re on a project and you’re away from home, you won’t have time to think about all the little details or errands that you’ll usually have time to work out or accomplish in a typical day. It’s really hard to explain this to people who aren’t in consulting. When you’re on a project, you are on a project. It can consume your life. Especially if you’re in another city. So I’m going to break down step by step how to keep things efficient, to avoid going crazy.
Get your email right
I use gmail, so all these tips will be exclusively related to getting the most out of it with the least amount of effort. First, set up “rules.” If you’re getting emails from similar sources, group them together and have them automatically sorted to the same folder. If you’re a CA, this means sorting all your ICAO, CICA etc. etc. emails to an accounting folder. But it doesn’t stop there. If you get linked in notifications sort those to a networking folder. Then create a parent folder called “career” and nest the former two underneath it.
You really have to be ruthlessly efficient. As I’m writing this I have 7 emails in my inbox. And none of them are from today. That means they are there by choice because they require some sort of action.
It’s critical to take a step back and see what part of your life takes up the most amount of time in your email account, create folders for those things, group similar folders and ensure all your mail is being sorted.
Next, get to the settings option in gmail and go to the “labs” tab. Enable the following;
1) Flickr previews in mail (preview pics without leaving gmail)
2) Google Docs previews in mail (preview docs without leaving gmail)
3) Message Sneak Peek (right click on messages to get a quick preview while staying on the same page)
4) Message translation (translates messages to English automatically)
5) Message Gestures (by holding the mouse button and sliding your mouse you can navigate emails, which is faster than clicking)
6) Picasa previews in mail (preview images without leaving gmail)
The combination of filters, folders, nested folders and these 6 options will greatly enhance the efficiency of your email experience.
Also, start taking notes in gmail. Open a draft email and use it like a notepad to remember important things – details of people you just met, your rewards program #’s (i.e. aeroplan and spg below) etc. If you have an iphone, use the notes app! I can’t stress this enough, it synchs to your gmail account. You should never have a reason why you forgot something important.
Check to see if your hotel has a gym in it. If it doesn’t look for the closest YMCA or Goodlife. If you’re into crossfit, then look for the closest crossfit gym (you’d be surprised at how many there are now) and email them about coming to train.
Since you will be in a hotel it becomes super easy to have a great sleep. Make sure your blinds are closed, turn down the thermostat to 16 degrees celcius and turn off all your electronics a half hour before bed.
And make sure you’re stretching each morning or doing some kind of mobility work. I highly recommend getting a travel roller (I take this on every trip). And doing some foam rolling in the morning after a hot shower. Flying back and forth each work destroys your body over time.
Sign up for all the rewards programs you will be using. At a minimum sign up for SPG and Areoplan. Then sign up for go miles. This is a really cool site that lets you track your air miles across different carriers. It also shows you new air miles promotions if you feel so inclined to start travel hacking.
You really need to have these programs locked down. They’re part of a process that will be working in the background while you’re flying and staying in various hotels.
Use your phone to check-in before your flight and only bring carry-on luggage. Also, find out who among your group is an elite or super elite. If you go with them, you can bypass almost every line and get access to the airport lounges, which have snacks and open bars.
And if you have the option always choose seats C or D. These are aisle seats and are the most comfortable since you’re guaranteeing yourself at least one arm-rest.
When you get to the hotel ask to be upgraded to a suite. Will you get the suite? Maybe? Most likely, they will say something like, “oh we don’t have any suites available but we can give you [insert second best room in hotel here].” This is usually akin to a double or triple upgrade from your original booking. You could ask for an upgrade, but you will be anchoring the discussion at the lower range of what’s available. Why not shoot for the best and end up at second best? That’s what happened to me last night. I went from two double beds to a king with an adjacent jacuzzi. There is an actual jacuzzi in my room, not the washroom (where I have a huge shower with a bench and double shower heads). I can take a bubble batch and watch Every Day Italian with Giada DeLaurentiis at the same time. Baller.
The last thing you’ll want to do after a long week away from home is cleaning. Hire a cleaning lady. Most people our age live in apartments that are relatively small, which end up being surprisingly affordable to clean. Get them to come over Saturday around lunch. Go grab some food/read a book/whatever and come back 2 hours later to a sparkling clean home.
If you like books, then invest in a kindle. Taking books with you when you’re traveling can quickly become a nuisance. Amazon just released a new kindle for under $100. Go buy it. Apart from saving space, all of your highlights and notes get uploaded to your personal kindle home page so you can view them later.
That’s all I can think of. If I figure out some more time saving tips I’ll pass them along in a future post.