Having just returned from a trade show, I realized one of the greatest difficulties that comes with traveling for work is getting your regular work done. My time was consumed by trade show tasks, and I realized once the day was over, I still had my regular duties to attend to. So the big question is, how do I balance it all? Whether it be lists or calendar blocks, it’s vital to find a strategy and stick to it. Work is important, but so is finding a balance.
Here are a few tips for when you feel overwhelmed with travel work and regular work all at once. Start by identifying when your trip will be and what tasks you expect to be assigned to you during that time frame. Estimate how long your regular work will take you and decide if getting it all done is possible during your travels. If you have assignments that you are able to do before your trip, try and finish them ahead of time. A few extra minutes each day finishing assignments pre-travel will relieve the stress of getting it done while you’re away.
Once you’ve identified what you need to get done during the trip, take some time to create a list ranking your tasks in order of importance. Ask yourself whether this assignment needs to get done before you return or if you can hold off on finishing it. Discuss these priorities with your boss and create a game plan for finishing them. Whether that be offloading some tasks to coworkers that are able to handle the workload or reevaluating the timeline that has been set for them, make sure you are prepared with an achievable workload before leaving.
Most importantly, don’t overwork yourself. Work travel (especially trade shows) can be exhausting, and you should put your mental health and sleep as a priority as well. Getting your work done is important, but taking care of your body is essential. This is why making lists and planning ahead of time is so important. Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and your boss. They will understand and appreciate the directness, so there isn’t any last-minute scrambling to get things done.
In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with realizing you do not have the bandwidth to travel for work and maintain your regular workload. While we have all worked long hours at a trade show or on another trip, that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice all of our time working. Add some extra time to your work schedule before you leave to get things done ahead of time, ask coworkers to take on some of your assignments and be honest with your boss and yourself. You can do this, but don’t work yourself to death.