Let’s face it, as much as we might like to plan our work and space it out, there are some weeks where everyone seems to want a piece of you.
As deadlines converge, and you find yourself charging from one appointment to another, replying to emails and picking up voicemails in between, hitting the road in the early hours of the morning and hitting the sack late at night, possibly in a different location each night.
How do you survive in crazy season? How do you make sure you arrive, not just on time but on form, ready to perform at your best for that client, event or negotiation?
While there’s no substitute for a proper holiday when you completely switch off for a good couple of weeks, here are 7 ideas for the times when you do need to recharge on the move:
Know what recharges you
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? The classic definition is simply about how you recharge – do you recharge in the company of others, or when you are on your own? Knowing this is crucial when you’re on the move, because when you are out of your normal environment and your schedule is dictated by predefined commitments, it can be easy to forget your default ways of recharging. As an extrovert, I often try and arrange to meet up with friends for coffee or dinner when I’m travelling for work. But if you’re an introvert, you might want to turn down drinks at the bar at the end of a conference, and treat yourself to room service instead.
What do you enjoy doing so much it gives you energy? I always take a book to read when I travel, which for me is a real treat. I have colleagues who take their running shoes or their own tea bags or bubble bath to recreate their favourite winding down moments. I even have a friend who takes her violin with her when she travels – she finds venues and hotels are often happy to find her a room to play in, and occasionally she even finds someone to play with!
It’s amazing what a difference 10 minutes can make. Having 12 minutes to get from one train platform to another is worlds apart from having 2. Arriving 10 minutes early is an absolute luxury compared to running 5 minutes late. Having 10 minutes in between two meetings to collect your thoughts or send that file instead of having to remember to do it later. Taking a slightly longer lunch, or getting an earlier train so you arrive in time for some breakfast. A little bit of margin not only gives you room for manoeuvre when things go wrong or get delayed, it also makes a massive difference to how much time you feel you have, compared to when you’re constantly rushing or playing catch up.
Seasoned travellers will always tell you that grabbing a quick bite of junk food will always cost you more in energy later. There are times when I have been known to grab a quick pasty before boarding the train home, but if I am on my way to deliver a workshop and I know I need sustained energy ahead, I will always scope out a time and place to eat a proper meal where I can, and keep my kit bag stocked with nuts, healthy snacks and a bottle of water for the times when I can’t.
Use travel time to switch gears
When you’ve been in meetings, with clients or in conference all day, the chances are your voicemail and inbox will be crying out for your attention by the end of the day. It’s tempting to use travel time to check emails, catch up on conversations or admin, but that can end up creating extremely long days. If you know you have several long days on the go, you might find it more beneficial to use your travel time to switch between gears.
I find when I’m travelling to an event, I use the journey there to prepare and get my head into gear, but when I’m travelling back, I use the journey to switch off and relax: watch a film, listen to music, read a book, or set the alarm for when I’m due at at my destination and grab some shut-eye.
Take advantage of your surroundings
When I was asked to run a workshop for a staff away day in a spa hotel, and knew that I needed to arrive the night before, I decided to go a few hours earlier the day before and take advantage of the spa facilities. When I was asked to speak at a conference in Budapest, I spent the morning when I wasn’t speaking walking around the city taking in the sights. When travelling for work it’s easy to find you only ever see the insides of hotel rooms and conference suites. Taking time to explore does wonders to recharge my batteries and makes the whole trip a real treat.
It can be easy to get so caught up in crazy speed it becomes the only speed we know. While we can indeed run fast when we need to, we also need times when we slow down and breathe.
Rather than wait for things to slow down, we all have the capacity to create pockets of time where we deliberately slow down. Whether it’s closing your eyes on the train and letting the sun warm your face, taking a minute to celebrate a small victory, delighting in simple pleasures like an unhurried cup of tea, or giving yourself six seconds before reacting to an email. Even deliberately walking slower, talking slower and breathing slower for 2 minutes can return you to a calmer, clearer state of mind. If you find that hard to do by yourself, try using an app like Headspace.
Over to you. What are your favourite ways to recharge on the move?
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