So I mentioned in my first post that I have been spending the first few weeks traveling to my new company’s headquarters before I settle into the full-time remote life. Friday marked the end of three weeks of straight travel. While I feel so fortunate that I get to do this before jumping into a full-time remote role, traveling over 90% of my time while also starting a new gig has been a shock to the system to say the least.
Starting a new job is always mentally exhausting but the physical travel has been HARD. On the plus side I’ve been able to shut everything else out and not worry about missing dinner plans with friends or my favorite workout class. But on the flip-side, not being able to retreat to my own space after a long day has been a challenge.
I’ve been trying to focus on keeping as much routine during my travel as possible and to take advantage of the face time. Below are some of the ways I’ve been keeping myself sane during this transition. Many of these are good tips for anyone traveling regardless of if your job is new or not or anyone starting a new job, regardless of if you’re traveling or not.
Physical health: I try to keep to a regular gym and sleeping schedule. I do my best to hit the hotel gym a few times a week but keeping in mind that I don’t want to exhaust myself so much that it impacts me during the day at work, which is my top priority right now.
You are what you eat: I’ve always been a relatively healthy eater and have employed what I consider to be an 80/20 approach to life: live as healthy as possible 80% of the time and the other 20% do what you like! This is especially important to keep in mind while traveling for work since grabbing a latte versus a coffee and making it a vente then deciding to have a cookie (or 2…) after dinner since I’m not covering the tab is tempting. Sticking to the types of foods and meals that I eat “normally” is a helpful guide for me. This means fresh foods and limited, if any, booze during the week. Portion control is also really important so I buy things in smaller, prepackaged sizes.
Ditch the booze: while I greatly enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail (or 2+ !) I have steered clear completely this whole month. Largely for the same reasons as anyone who decides to go without alcohol for the first month of the year. And while there have been moments when I’ve wanted a glass of wine the truth is they have been very few and far between. This in itself has made me realize that many of the times I am craving wine I really am not (mind blown?!). And while sometimes grabbing cocktails with co-workers or clients is an important bonding time limiting this while traveling will really help maintain mental clarity and focus.
Time management: I have been quite aware of using this time wisely, “this time” being my face-time in the office. All working professionals know that time management gets even more important when time or face time is scarce and in this new job face-time will be scarce. So while I’m in the office I’ve been trying to meet as many people on my team and partner groups as possible. Even if I don’t anticipate directly working with someone immediately it’s important to me to make genuine connections.
Mental health: trying to make the most of my time in the office often turns into over-extending or over booking myself. In past roles I would simply power through and while that’s been a bit of my reality right now I have tried to remain aware of what I personally need to operate at my best. Sometimes that means something as simple as taking the long route to grab a coffee or a refill on water so I have a longer moment to myself. Sometimes it means blocking off 15 or 30 minutes after a marathon of meetings just to be able to collect myself. I’ve realized over the years of my professional career that these small moments in which I re-center myself are critical to my sanity and performance and therefore worth taking the time to do. I know this is especially helpful when starting a new job.
Fight mental exhaustion: but when the exhaustion hits (because it will!) I embrace it and allow myself time to get past it. How have I been doing this? The popular concept of mindfulness. I’ve dabbled with meditation since grade school but never committed to a practice. A good friend of mine introduced to a great meditation app (called Calm, which I highly recommend) over the holidays and shared that she had been using it for weeks consistently; she even would find time to practice daily at the start of every day on vacation. I decided that this new job and routine during the new year was a perfect time to start a regular practice. I believe it’s been an important component to staying centered and focused, and operating at my best.
Maintain your routines: striving to maintain your own life in the midst of continued traveling is important. I’m a firm believer in your job being a part of your life, not the other way around. One big example of this for me is working out. I’ve always used workouts as a way to de-stress and while a chaotic schedule can sometimes make you stop hitting the gym I strive to do the opposite. I find when I succumb to the excuses of “I’m so busy” or “I’m so tired” it ends up hurting me more than anything else because I lose the energy and mental clarity that regular workouts give me. Another example that’s not exercise related is that I have gotten into the habit of having peppermint or chamomile tea at night at home. It’s been a calming and relaxing way to end my day which has become a bit of a ritual. To maintain some consistency in my life I have been bringing my favorite caffeine-free tea with me so I can have it at the hotel as I’m winding down. It may seem small but this act has been hugely helpful in maintaining a sense of normalcy in my life right now.
Making hotels home-y: this is another thing that may seem small but something that has really helped me maintain myself and calm throughout this week has been making my hotels home-y and my own. Biggies here have been to actually unpack and have certain things with me that create a sense of home. I’m not saying to bring pictures necessarily (but if that’s what you want!) but for me it’s the simple things like having my night-time tea that I like to drink as I unwind at night. This applies to any sort of long travel, whether you’re starting a new role or not, but considering the added stress of being in a new position I have found it to be especially important for me.
Whether you’re starting a new gig and commuting in full-time, working from home full-time, or doing a mix of both the first few weeks of a new job are mentally taxing to say the least. These have been some of the ways I’ve managed to keep my cool. How have you handled starting a new job? How do you handle traveling?