Business Travel: 4 Ideas to Overcome the Overwhelm

This page may contain links to or other sites from which I may receive commission on purchases you make after clicking on such links. Read my full Disclosure Policy

business travel

It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of getting away to visit a new city, hearing fabulous speakers, and networking with colleagues, that you may lose sight of what will happen when you return home after a conference. My client, Sue West, has some great strategies to help you apply what you learn, while making the transition back to your regular routine.


Conferences can inspire, reinvigorate or reorient our thinking about our businesses. But at the end, we travel home and get overwhelmed. The work, the new ideas, the new contacts, the classes to sign up for, the new projects – and then there’s unpacking that suitcase, getting laundry done, and starting to make dinner again! What can make it easier?

Use Downtime to Organize

Organize as much of your follow up as you reasonably can, while on the train, plane or automobile to return to your world. While at conference, keep separate lists of: follow-up one week after conference; within one month; ideas I want to try; emails to send. Use separate pages of your notebook, mark notes with icons (I use “e” meaning to “email” someone, for example.). Add directly to whatever tool you use for your “to do” lists.

This means it’s sorted upon your return. Easier to prioritize and set deadlines, in the context of the work you already had to do. If you can’t possibly find time to do this, block time on your calendar after the conference to do a debrief with yourself. Or call your accountability partner or a colleague and run through the ideas together. Make the date with someone else if you’re not convinced you’ll create time to do this on your own.

Use What You Know

If your usual ‘to do’ list is on paper, bring that list with you and write on it directly so there’s no integration effort upon your return. If you’ve got a Blackberry or iPhone (or other tool), keep your list there, send yourself emails, or use your web-based to do application. Do it while in session to help you close out mentally and move onto the next meeting.

The goal is to eliminate as much of the transfer of information from the “while you travel list” to the regular list of things to do.

Make Judgement Calls

With too much on your list, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed. You were already busy, right? Be judicious. Be clear about your business goals and run these ideas against the goals; do they move the goal forward? Be clear about what’s honestly an idea you realistically think you’ll carry through on, versus ideas that sounded cool or useful, but don’t belong on your list after all.

Ease Back Into Regular Life

Block your first day back, or at least the morning. Take no clients or find a sub for the store or restaurant. Give your body and your mind some time to close out from the time away and have time to get ready for your week ahead. Remember last conference – this can snowball out of control quickly. Make small steps of progress. This isn’t something we do often, so creating and remembering a routine is helpful.

Anchoring yourself for just a few hours at the beginning of your first week back gives you miles more productivity that week. Or if you’re prone to getting sick when you wear yourself out, this time you’ll be healthier. Just as you change your watch as you enter a new time zone, use routines to re-enter real life again. Examples of that are: doing your weekly review, unpacking and getting laundry done right away, dining out your first night back.

Photo ©Candy Box Images via

I recommend...

A former Productivity Coach & ADHD Specialist, Sue is the author of Change Your Habits ADHD Style and Organize for a Fresh Start: Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life. She previously served as President of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization and the NAPO-Greater Manchester, NH Chapter.

Join the Community

Did you find this post helpful?

Sign up to get new posts by email every week!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Join the Conversation


  1. Avatar Cena from on May 23, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Love these rock solid ideas… and I’m a paper/notebook person too. I just feel better about finding things when I know I’ve written them down! Paper still works! Thanks for sharing the tips – and for sharing Janet!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 23, 2014 at 9:30 am

      I’m digital for the most part, but I have so much to keep track of for next week’s NAPO Conference that I’ve decided to bring a small notebook that fits in my purse. In it I’ll record all the important information about my flights, transportation to and from airports, hotel reservation, tours I’ve booked, and so on, so I have all the confirmation numbers and contact information in one place, with no worries about battery issues. I’ll use the same notebook to record my notes and ideas.

Leave a Comment