A Zombie’s 10-Step Guide To Productivity And Effectiveness When Traveling

It happens whenever I go on business trips: I stay up far later than I normally would (it was past midnight before I crashed last night) but I’m still back on my feet by 5 a.m. Fortunately, I’ve developed a system for getting through the morning.

Step 1: Take the weak-ass hotel coffee that room service just delivered and mix in a packet of Starbucks Via. The resulting concoction will get you half way to being awake. Use the resulting jolt to swallow breakfast without choking.

Step 2: Put on music of choice, unless it’s classical. For me this morning, it’s The Ramones. I’m in New York, which gives me the tendency to play nothing but The Ramones:

Step 3: Brush teeth. Coffee is particularly excellent right after a good mouth cleaning.

Step 4: Start writing. This may seem harsh, especially if you’re not a writer. But it works for me. I’ll just start typing whatever falls loose from the mental cobwebs. Before I know it, I’ve put the needs of the coming day into perspective.

Step 5: Refresh the coffee cup.

Step 6: Turn up the volume on the music. This morning, it’s more of The Ramones.

Step 7: Now you’re awake enough to take a shower.

Step 8: Pull on boots and somehow find your way to the conference proceedings. You are now in a pretty good zombie state. Your brain is numb but you still find a way to talk to people and even do so politely. What’s more surprising is you manage to say a few intelligent things to the person you’re talking to.

Step 9: Sit through the morning keynotes with the laptop on in front of you. The goal is not to ignore the speakers. The extra stimulation of the glowing screen will keep you from dozing off entirely, which means you’re doing the speakers a favor. I’ve done enough talks to know it’s better to have people in front of you staring at a screen while you talk than snoring with the head cocked back and the mouth gaping.

Step 10: Coffee break. The first of many.

By this point, I’m ready to take on the world. And fortunately for me, the panel I’m moderating isn’t on until 3.

I can handle a couple days of this. By Thursday, I’ll be back to the more energetic morning routine of life at home.

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