With all of the traveling back and forth lately, I've noticed a downturn in my productivity. That's to be expected, I suppose, but it doesn't mean I'm happy with it. The most noticeable slide has been with my writing, as I've been struggling to come with words as often as usual. Part of that stems from so much going on, but I also am shifting the time I do have from more writing to more family time (considering I'm still going to be traveling in and out of town several times over the next couple of weeks -- with a two-week stint on the road in early July scheduled as well).
What I've been doing as of this recent trip is scheduling what I call "gap days". These are days that I place on either side of my travels that -- regardless of whether they are usually heavy-lifting days or not -- become light-lifting days. The reason behind this is so that I can prepare and return properly from travel.
It's not unusual for people to book a day off of work when they return from a business trip or vacation (or schedule their travel so that they get back a day prior to the start of their workweek), but it isn't very often that people will book a day off before they travel so that they can get all of their ducks in a row before leaving. Sure, you can do that at work on your last day at the office, but what about the stuff that needs tending to at home? We tend to rush to get all of those tasks taken care of before we head off the next day (or even later that day) rather than take the time to really prepare accordingly and leave home with less stress on our minds. Those who are freelancers or entrepreneurs rarely take a gap day on either side of the travel plans because they want to dive right back into things -- or they feel that they have to dive right back into things.
There are a few ways I've taken gap days that also allow for concurrent travel, and I'm employing that this time around for my trip in early July. I'm taking the bus down to Portland this time around (I've taken the train the past two years) and arriving late afternoon the day prior to the start of the World Domination Summit. That trip down will give me some time to myself where I can reflect and refine my plans for September onward. I'll be working up until that day now because my gap day will be a travel day thanks to the mode of transportation I've chosen.
At the tail end of my trip, I'm flying home from London, Ontario on an evening flight. I'll spend that day winding down from VoxPopCon and mapping out the rest of my week so I can hit the ground running the next day. The timing of my travel -- including gaining back some time through three time zones -- affords me another gap day while in transit.
Keep in mind that I have been able to make these kind of gap days happen because of the foundation that my task management apps provide. Over the past few weeks and in the weeks to come, I've gotten into the habit of ensuring I give those who expect things from me plenty of notice as to when I'll need things from them so I can complete them while I'm keeping this highly unusual event schedule. By keeping ahead of the curve, I'm able to keep moving forward at a solid speed.
If you don't take gap days before and after travel, I strongly encourage that you find a way to do so. They help you catch your breath on both sides of your schedule and allow you to be more mindful about your work and your play -- which will lead to better outcomes for both.
Photo credit: Plusverde via SXC.HU