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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Surviving The Very Long Trip
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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Surviving The Very Long Trip - Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Surviving The Very Long Trip

Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Surviving The Very Long Trip

It happens to a few of us every so often: shifting personnel, new ventures, or changes in direction require us to spend a month or more in a distant location, perhaps an office in another state (or country). Trips like this can be a huge strain; in fact, there's almost no way it can be anything else. In addition to the logistics of relocating for several weeks, we have to attend to the things that keep our own spaces running--our homes, our offices, and our other real-life commitments. Making the most of this reality can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be all negative. Here are a few tips for surviving and thriving on the very long business trip in one spot.

Resist the Temptation to Do Nothing but Work
The combination of the sterile boringness of a hotel room with the reality of having nobody waiting for you to get off work and come home can make it easy to put in twelve- or fourteen-hour workdays at the temporary office. This is especially true if you're several time zones away from the home office, which makes it tempting to come in very early or stay very late so that you can stay in real-time contact with your team. If you're across the International Dateline, you'll find working on the weekend to be tempting, since your Saturday is the home office's Friday, giving you additional reasons not to punch out. There's nothing wrong with this approach, in theory, because what are you there for if not to work? You'll be super-productive because there's nothing to get in the way of sustained focus throughout your stay. There may be a day or two when this kind of schedule is called for, but keep in mind that you're more valuable to your organization in the long run when you keep things in balance. When the long trip is over, if all you have to show for your time is the work you did, you'll be less likely to embrace future long trips, and you will have missed out on some great opportunities.

Plan Some Fun, and Don't Save it All for the Last Weekend
Whether it's a much-loved tourist attraction, a unique mountain hike, or a highly praised restaurant, your temporary home offers great experiences you can't get at your real home. It can be very easy to save a lot of the great experiences for some undefined "later," when schedules are less hectic, but you will likely find yourself in the unpleasant situation of having lots to do but not enough time in which to do it. Yes, it's true that the thrust of your travel is business and not pleasure, but if the company sends you to Hawaii for two months, you don't want the new org chart to be the only thing you have to show for your time there. Don't burn yourself out on fun, but do get started right away on the list of stuff you want to see and do.

Do a Few Things You Never Do; Do a Few Things You Always Do
In addition to the big-item list of things you want to see and do, spend some time in the mundanities of regular life. Include a few things you never do, just to experience them in a new place where there's nothing at stake and (probably) nobody there to see you do it. If you hate shopping at the outlet stores, spend half a Saturday exploring them in this temporary home. If you never go to sporting events or concerts, see them the way regular denizens of your two-month city see them. Shop at a farmer's market. Go for a swim. It's funny how a new experience in a new place can open your eyes to trying it again when you get back home. Then take that card and flip it around: do a few things you always do at home. This gives you a reminder that your life continues even while you're away from home. You are not in some alternate universe, and you don't have to return home having lost that mysterious eight weeks. See the current movie you would have seen at your theater back home. Do your own laundry. Make pancakes for breakfast in your hotel room on Sunday and spend the day watching hoops on the television. A nice mix of new experiences and everyday experiences can make every day interesting and your whole trip a combination of novelty and stability.

Check Something Off the Someday List
We've all got back-burner projects we never have time for. You're probably not in the middle of a two-month stay for the purpose of addressing those projects, but here is a great chance to really submerge yourself in one of them. Do the things you need to do, but set time (and space) aside for reimagining the company-wide database structure, the way you've been fantasizing about doing since you first realized what the problem was, or fix the nagging interoffice communications problem that's bugged you for ages. Give yourself that long work-weekend you can never squeeze in at home because of Little League games or lawn-mowing, and lock yourself in the conference room with some chart paper, sticky notes, and dry-erase markers. That Someday List is always growing, but maybe there's some room during your trip for finally crossing off one or two of the items.

Get the Souvenir Shopping Done Early
Your whole stay will be so much better if you don't have to worry about it for seven weeks and then rush to get it done on the way to the airport. And don't forget some kind of snack for the office trough and the team back home.

Your long trip is an inconvenience and a source of stress, but that's not all it is. Let it also be a chance for you to see and do things you never have the opportunity for; let it be a continuation of your life in a different location; let it be the work-retreat you've always wished you could take; let it be something you remember at least fondly enough to consider doing it again the next time it becomes necessary. Most of all, let it be as positive as it can be.

 

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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Surviving The Very Long Trip - Executive Leadership Articles

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