At this moment, I’m in NYC for a business trip. I find that although I tend to enjoy traveling for business – it gives me a break from the day-to-day, it allows me to socialize, and it gets me reinvigorated to write – I still need some time alone. Whether your business trip takes you to a client site, a trade show or a sales call, business travel means being surrounded by other people. Travel unto itself can be draining, but when you have to be “on” 24/7, it sure doesn’t help. Although it might sound contradictory, all the hours we spend with our colleagues and clients can actually leave us feeling drained and exhausted, especially if you are an introvert. As a result, budgeting in “alone time” when you can relax during the business trip is very important to mental well being and stress management:
- No Compromising Required: We often tend to compromise when we are in the presence of others. Whether it is where we eat for dinner, when we leave the office or how we spend the evening, when we are with others it is difficult to prioritize ourselves and our needs. Spending time by yourself allows you to prioritize what is important to you so that you can get done the things that you need to (like getting in a workout at the hotel) and do the things that you want.
- Reset Your Mind: Getting away from others while on the road allows you to decompress and relax. It gives you a break from the noise and busyness of your day and instead, lets you escape and in essence, press the “restart” button. This is important to ensuring a clear and productive mind.
- A Fresh Perspective: Alone time gives you the opportunity to weed through a lot of ideas and thoughts and see things more clearly. If you are dealing with a lot of issues during the business trip, being by yourself can help you think through things without the interruption of others. You may come away with a clearer perspective about business situations so that you can address them more easily and effectively.
- A Break from Annoyance: Too much time with colleagues, even when we work well with them, can quickly translate into annoyance and frustration. Idiosyncrasies and quirky behavior, especially on the road, can become less tolerable. Being alone, however, decreases your sensitivity and instead, increases your tolerance for those behaviors and characteristics that are wearing.
- Reflection on the Day: Alone time gives you the ability to reflect on what happened in your day, review lessons learned and bathe in your successes. Maybe a meeting went well and you can reflect on what you did to ensure its success. Maybe you lost a sale and you can think through what you could have done differently to have changed the outcome. Reflection on what happened will make you more effective in the future.
Traveling with others can make it difficult to build in the “alone time” that you deserve. Prioritizing it, however, will become easier the more you do it. Obviously, you can’t be on your own the whole business trip, but try to build in a half-hour or hour each day. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you do when your own your own (E.g., exercising at the hotel, reading, taking a walk, speaking to loved ones), what matters is that you get it. You’ll feel the better for it!
Do you build in alone time on your business trips? What do you do to ensure that you make it happen?