Photograph by Getty Images/Flickr RM
By Jeff Rodman
June 26, 2015

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What’s your best advice for staying productive at work?” is by Jeff Rodman, co-founder of Polycom.

Today, many of us have the flexibility and tools to work from any corner of the earth. But changing locations can cost hours of lost time if you aren’t properly prepared for the unexpected. To cope, I’ve learned a few tricks along the way that help me accomplish all of my to-dos efficiently, no matter where I’m located:

Have a plan
Know what your objectives are for the day. This will give provide a sense of what needs to happen, when it needs to happen, and a yardstick for measuring progress. It also helps to clarify what tools will be needed. If it’s a high-level business conference, try to have it on video. If the day will be mostly spent writing, then a laptop and smartphone will do.

And backup plan, too
One downside of working in different areas is not knowing how things are set up to function. If the Wi-Fi goes down, who’s in charge? Or perhaps your dialing into a conference call and the credentials aren’t working? It doesn’t take much to lose a big chunk of a promising day with distractions like this. So be sure to always have a backup plan to make calls, join meetings, and connect to the network.

Minimize distractions
Headsets and earplugs work fine if you’re working alone. But if you’re on a call or joining a meeting, unwanted sounds can easily be dragged in. These distractions can quickly veer meetings off track. There are solutions, of course, the trick is just to have them ready. Background noise? Put the phone on mute, unless you are speaking. For every workplace problem, there’s a solution.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What’s your best advice for staying productive at work?

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The biggest career lesson this Navy SEAL learned in Iraq by Chris Fussell, chief growth officer at McChrystal Group.

Here’s how to keep your employees happy (and productive) by Michael Keoni DeFranco, founder and CEO of Lua.

9 things you can do every day to be more productive by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.

How managers are killing the productivity of their employees by Todd McKinnon, co-founder and CEO of Okta.

Warby Parker’s Co-CEO: Why it’s okay to say ‘no’ to your boss by Dave Gilboa, co-CEO of Warby Parker.

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