Working 80-some-odd hour weeks isn’t just a warning sign you could be at risk for serious health issues. It’s a strong indicator that you lack work-life balance. Cutting back on hours when you work in a traditional office might be challenging, but it’s a whole different story for business travelers. If you fall into the latter category, use these tips to turn off “work mode” during your trips.
Use video chat to connect with loved ones
Technology is a wonderful thing — embrace it! Rather than calling home daily, use video chat to see your family’s faces. This will help you feel more connected to them when you’re on the road. Video chat also is a great way to share your surroundings, talk about your day, and see your pets and kids if you have them.
Take care of yourself
When you’re traveling for business, don’t let your physical and mental health fall by the wayside. During a business trip, it’s easy to overindulge in food, alcohol, and social activities you don’t normally partake in. Of course, a business trip is always a great opportunity to order bread pudding with dinner, but the key is “everything in moderation.” To stay grounded, carve out some time for exercise, meditation, reading, or anything else good for the body and mind.
Bring your family along
Is your next business trip somewhere the whole family would enjoy? Bring them along! You’ll still have to fulfill your work duties, but your family will enjoy being included and exploring a new city. If you do bring your family, remember to dedicate some time to spend just with them.
Not every hobby is travel-friendly (think woodworking), but if you have something you can fit into a suitcase, don’t hesitate to bring it. Love knitting? Pack a new pattern and your tools and materials. Have a book you can’t put down? Bring it! Just because you’re on a business trip doesn’t mean that you can’t spend time doing the things you enjoy. Hobbies will keep your mind on something else besides work, and you’ll also have a comfort of home right there with you.
Take frequent breaks
Taking frequent breaks is important wherever you’re working, but it’s especially critical during business trips. Business travelers often think, “Well, I’m not from around here, so I’ll just order in and work through lunch.” You don’t have to surrender to eating at a desk when you’re traveling for business! Take your lunch break and go exploring. During your breaks, think of your business trip as a solo leisure trip.
Sure, use your phone to call home, post fun pictures on Instagram of everything you’re exploring, and keep an eye out for newly forged LinkedIn connections. But at the end of the day, business travelers can benefit from unplugging. Putting away the phone and computer can do wonders for creating a boundary between “work” and “life.” And when you’re relaxing in your hotel or Airbnb at the end of the night, the last thing you should be thinking about is emails and meetings.
Get up earlier
Still having trouble finding some time to yourself? Try getting up earlier! Get breakfast, catch up on a favorite show, go for a jog, or grab a cup of coffee and walk the streets. It’s great to get some energy out and time in for yourself before a long day of work anyway, and during business trips, it’s a wonderful way to clear your mind.
Meet up with a friend in the area
There’s nothing like seeing a friendly face. It might be difficult to fit in a dinner or drinks, but finding time is well worth it. Not only will you get to catch up with a friend you probably haven’t seen in a while, but it will instantly switch you from work mode to life mode.
Schedule downtime between trips
If you can avoid it, try to schedule plenty of downtime between business trips. There’s nothing worse than hopping from hotel to hotel without sleeping in your own bed for weeks (or months) on end. Travel is obviously exhausting, but your friends and family will appreciate it if you take some time to be home between trips.
Business trips are usually extremely busy. If someone on your team asks you to schedule a conference call in the middle of it, or if you’re asked to meet with someone else during your trip and your schedule is already full, learn the power of “no.” When you’re on the road and working, you should always be giving 100%. If you spread yourself too thin, you run the risk of underperforming at your job and also losing any work-life balance you might have had before saying “yes” to yet another meeting.
Sure, some of your colleagues might also be good friends, but it’s important to still set boundaries. You shouldn’t feel like you need to go out drinking every night, and you don’t need to stay up late going over documents that can wait. Basically, you don’t have to spend every waking hour with the people you work with. Setting boundaries will help you achieve work-life balance and also carve out some time for yourself.
Be mindful of your energy ups and downs
Are you the kind of person who has a 2 p.m. slump? When you’re traveling for business, don’t pretend you don’t get groggy in the afternoons. While you might not be able to combat an energy low in the same way you can at home, you should still be able to take a break. Take a brisk walk, grab some coffee, or use that time to call home. Whatever the case, be mindful of your energy ups and downs. Otherwise, you run the risk of running on empty.
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