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On the go, play to your strengths

Robert Strohmeyer | March 14, 2011
For too many of us, travel time is downtime. All those hours lost to taxi stands, boarding queues, and the occasional bout of sheer inter-time-zone exhaustion really add up over the course of a week. But time on the road presents some great opportunities, too.

I break receipt management down into two processes. First, I capture the actual paper in a single location--a clear plastic snap-shut envelope that I keep in the outer pocket of my laptop bag. I can grab it in less than a second without looking, and every single latte receipt goes straight in the moment after it hits my hand. Second, I spend a few minutes at the end of each day capturing them digitally with a mobile app called Expensify, which lets you take a picture of the receipt and automatically sync it to the cloud. Now I not only know where all my physical receipts are; I also have backup copies. (By the way, if you use Evernote, that works pretty well here too. It just won't help you compile an expense report later on unless you use a third-party plug-in.)

If your accounting department is even remotely hip, they'll let you submit the expense reports that Expensify creates. If not, you'll have to fill out some kludgy Excel spreadsheet or worse. But in either case, you'll be glad you spent all of about 20 collective minutes of your travel time accounting for your receipts in advance. So instead of putting off wading through the jumble of garbage in your bag, you can file your expense report quickly when you get back from your trip.


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