I don’t claim to be any sort of expert when it comes to work/life balance. Lord knows that I struggle with this sometimes. Throw in business travel and you have another caveat to what work/life balance means.
A lot of people think that business travel is so glorious. While I’m not complaining and will admit that I’ve gotten to see and go to some pretty amazing places, the norm isn’t quite so glamourous. Travel in, have meetings in a hotel, travel out! It makes missing home and all the things you could/should be doing a bit more top-of-mind.
Again, no expert here, but I have found a few things over my years of travel that have definitely helped with balance.
• Organize – Whether you use an electronic calendar, wall calendar, or something else, the first step to sanity is to be organized! Know what is going on and when.
• Plan Ahead – Try to anticipate the things that will need to be done while you are away (at work and home) and work on them in advance if possible. This way you won’t come back to a mountain of tasks at work or at home.
• Coordinate – If you have children, pets, or others you care for, make sure you’ve outlined and planned for their needs while you are away. Whether that be laying out clothes for your kids or creating a daily reminder list of all of the tasks and activities.
• Have a Back-Up Plan – Inevitably, something will go haywire when you are away; have someone that can step in during an emergency. I’m fortunate to have parents nearby to help with things around home, but a neighbor or friend. At work, talk with your co-workers about back-up plans and who can assist during times of need.
• Keep Up While You Are Away – I’m ashamed to admit how long this one took me to adopt and I kick myself that it did. I’d let the junkie email (that didn’t go to my junk folder) just sit in my inbox until I got back to work to deal with. I have a phone that has my email! Since I’ve began to just delete things as time allows during my travel, the better and a lot less overwhelmed I am with email when I get home.
• Ask for Help – If you have the means, it might be in the form of a housekeeper or ordered meals; or asking a colleague to take on a project during heavy travel times or to cover a meeting. If you struggle to ask for help – yep, I’m guilty – doing so even one time can set you on a path to asking more often and thereby relieving stress. If it doesn’t work out, don’t let one instance be your deciding factor to do ask for help again.
• Say No – It is okay not to be able to go and do everything. Enough said!
• Be Present – When you are at home, be at home. When you are at work, be at work. In both, determine what your hopes and goals are. Then focus on achieving those in the space that you are in. Quality over quantity.
• Give Yourself Some Grace – We aren’t going to be great at this all the time, and I know I’ve been feeling good only to be tripped up and slip back down the slide. It is about the journey – baby steps. Identify what is important, focus on that, and take it day by day.
Now that you’ve heard some of mine and in the spirit of sharing and collectively making us all better, what are some of your steps for striving for work/life balance when you travel?
Check out this article on work/life balance.