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07 Jan

Have a smoother transition from traveling to being stationary

Datum: 2014-01-07 10:42

When we return to the office after being on a busi­ness trip for a few days we often have some work we need to catch up on.

We haven’t had time to read and reply to all the e‑mails we have received dur­ing our time out of office since we have had a tight sched­ule on our trip try­ing to make the most of it. Our col­leagues have left notes on our desk and we have a hand­ful of missed calls to return.

The last thing we want to do is to spend hours tak­ing care of and account for receipts we have received and expens­es we have had dur­ing the trip. The trip is over, done, fin­ished, and we sim­ply want to pro­ceed with the next challenge.

Order at once

Is there a way to min­i­mize the sup­ple­men­tary work deal­ing with rep­re­sen­ta­tion- and taxi- receipts as well as receipts for any oth­er expens­es you have had, when we get back to the office? 

Yes, there is at least one rule of thumb you can stick to: The soon­er we process these receipts in a struc­tured and sys­tem­at­ic way, the soon­er we can resume work­ing with oth­er tasks once back at the office.

And if we orga­nize the receipts in what­ev­er order we want to find them orga­nized in when we begin account­ing for them back at the office as we receive them in the first place, there will nev­er be a mess to sort out.

This is how I do it

A sim­ple tool which I per­son­al­ly have had much use of prac­ti­cal­ly dai­ly is a plas­tic fold­er with five pock­ets. I bring the pock­et-fold­er with me as I trav­el. I have inten­tion­al­ly got­ten a bag that opens from above and which I do not have to take off or put on the ground to open. In the bag I have the pock­et-fold­er with the open­ing to the five pock­ets fac­ing upwards as well. To me the five pock­ets rep­re­sent the five work­days of the week.

As I receive a receipt after treat­ing some­one to lunch or right before I get out of the taxi, I scan the receipt with the Genius Scan app, I email it to myself and then I sim­ply put the receipt in today’s pock­et. I do not just throw the receipt into the bag, I do not put it in the pock­et of my trousers, nor in the inner pock­et of my jack­et. And I do not put the receipt between my teeth for a moment as I grab my bags and coat and get out of the taxi into the rain.

No, the receipt goes straight into the right pock­et right away.

Once back at the office after my trip I take the fold­er out of my bag right away and place it in my phys­i­cal inbox on the desk togeth­er with notes from meet­ings, notes from tele­phone-con­ver­sa­tions, mail I have received and oth­er phys­i­cal mate­r­i­al I need to process. The inbox soon resem­bles a phys­i­cal mail-box and when I get to the pock­et-fold­er, the receipts it con­tains are already in order.

The dif­fer­ent pock­ets also often get to rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent clients since I often have more than one assign­ment per day when I trav­el and hence dif­fer­ent clients need to be charged for my trav­el expens­es dur­ing dif­fer­ent days. The sort­ing by day hence comes in handy when I need to account for the costs and expens­es back at the office, and I am always equal­ly grate­ful to my his­tor­i­cal self” for pre­vi­ous­ly been so thought­ful and doing the sort­ing of the receipts while traveling.

The five pock­ets could also rep­re­sent five dif­fer­ent clients (even if you are work­ing for sev­er­al clients dur­ing a sin­gle day), dif­fer­ent types of account­ing (expens­es you have paid your­self, charges to the company’s cred­it card, et c), or dif­fer­ent cred­it cards if you hap­pen to have several.

Do this

So, if you spend more time than you would like today on gath­er­ing, orga­niz­ing and sort­ing out the pile of receipts after you have been on a busi­ness trip, get a five-pock­et fold­er as well. Or, deter­mine some oth­er place that comes nat­u­ral­ly where you con­sis­tent­ly store the receipts you receive dur­ing the trip, so that they are eas­i­ly found and dealt with once back at the office.

Pro­cess­ing ear­ly means more time for more impor­tant matters

If you imme­di­ate­ly store expense- and trav­el expens­es-receipts in a sys­tem­at­ic man­ner as you receive them you will have more time for pro­duc­tive work rather than sort­ing out the piles of receipts you have accu­mu­lat­ed. You will prob­a­bly even be able to go home ear­li­er on Fri­day-after­noons as well since we tend to save these types of tedious tasks for lat­er and last, when all the tasks with high­er pri­or­i­ty are completed.

What is your method?

How do you min­i­mize the amount of work you have to do after a trip is com­plet­ed? Leave a com­ment to share your thoughts.