5 Ways to Make Vital Work Travel Productive and Fruitful

Written by Founder and CEO, Sara Potler LaHayne

The fall season is upon us, and change is in the air.

Schools return for a new year, with new students, new classes, new teachers, and new books. We just celebrated Rosh Hashana and Labor Day, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa right around the corner. The leaves are changing colors, and hikers are gearing up for a last look at the trees as skiers get ready for fresh powder.

At Move This World, early fall brings on a lot of travel. We’re onboarding schools across 23 states, and often that means traveling onsite to facilitate kick-off professional development sessions.

Travel is often associated with positive events. On-boarding new schools is really exciting. Seeing family during the holidays is a blessing. Taking a vacation, soaking in a new place, and disconnecting from the daily grind of home can be a hugely relaxing and rewarding experience.

Despite the positive connotations, travel is also a lot of work. Travel takes a lot of planning, and doing the actual traveling can be exhausting–especially when visiting multiple cities on consecutive nights, as the road warriors at Move This World have been doing recently.

Before I became a mother, I did the bulk of traveling for Move This World and usually found it exciting. These days, I feel responsible for getting in and out as fast as possible so I can spend more time with my family.

Now that other members of my team are carrying travel responsibilities, I’ve noticed that my excitement around traveling is not always the norm. Others on my team have travel-induced anxiety. They get worked up before the trip. They want to be at the airport with plenty of time to spare. They debate flight times at length. They get the travel jitters.

But in order to respond to that exciting business traction or soak in that much needed respite with family, travel is inevitable. How do you deal with travel stress?

5 Tips for Making Work Travel Rewarding

1) View the flight as your own productivity tunnel. It’s rare to have designated space for uninterrupted productivity, time when no one will bother you or be able to reach you. Instead of dreading a four hour flight, view that time as an opportunity to plow into your inbox or get things done that never seem to be possible in the office. Without any distractions, you have the gift of uninterrupted productivity.

2) Indulge in a travel treat. Airports, especially if you spend a lot of time in them, can feel like vapid, transactional spaces. Trick yourself into thinking it’s a comfy base before takeoff by treating yourself to a nice coffee or a healthy snack that will fuel your body and your mind before you board.

3) Dust off your reading list. It’s hard to find time to pleasure read during the chaos of a normal week unless you are traveling. Sure, it’s not ideal to travel on a Sunday night, but at least you’ll get to soak in a few pages of the novel you’ve been wanting to read. The same is true for movies. I hadn’t watched a single movie since my daughter was born a year ago, but I recently watched a film on a flight to San Antonio. It offered laughter and a respite during miserable, late-night work travel.

4) Tackle a creative project. Often times, big creative projects or pieces of writing are difficult to provide headspace for during the week. Typically, I find myself doing most of my writing in the early mornings or over the weekend. Use the uninterrupted time and clear your internal cache of ideas to build, create or write. Get those juices flowing.

5) Move through a new city. It can be easy during work travel to get in a workout rut since we’re away from our routine and typical exercise. Use the opportunity of being in a new city to go for a new run and explore, especially if you won’t have the opportunity to do so with a long list of meetings and work commitments. Some of my favorite early morning runs have been in cities where I’m exploring new sites.

Travel is tough, but it’s up to us to shift our mindset and make the most of the opportunity to drive our work forward while still cultivating our own health and sanity.

This story was originally uploaded to Edweek Market Brief on November 1st, 2018.

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