I realize those two statements are in stark contradiction to one another and herein lies the dilemma.
Being home for a week, being away for a week, introduces a weird dynamic to life. One week I’m able to run errands, roll around on the floor with my dog, and spend an evening making dinner (or going out) with my wife. The next week I live off of Starbucks, Jimmy John’s, and Wendy’s while spending my nights alone with a TV and Internet connection.
Lately my travel has been for a week at a time. Out on Sunday or Monday and back Friday. This week I left home Sunday and won’t be home until the following Sunday. In addition to being at the office for a week (and a day trip to Boston), I’ll head up to Massachusetts this weekend for homecoming at my university. Seven nights away from home, seven days of mail to process, seven days of chores to take care of when I get home next Sunday. Oh and don’t forget — seven days of missing my wife and pup back home. They’ll be happy to see me, as usual, for the first 15 minutes then all will be back to normal.
At the office I get into a routine where, in the morning, I stop at Starbucks for oatmeal, a piece of fruit, and sometimes a coffee (depending on what the dark roast is). Lunch depends on what is going on in the office, and dinner is most always something from a fast-food chain unless someone else is in from out of town. When that happens I’ll actually have a sit-down meal with someone else. Post dinner, I’ll head to the hotel and get more work done. This is where it gets dangerous. I get another two to four hours at the end of the day where I can just sit and get stuff done.
When I’m home it’s much the same except I make my own breakfast and coffee after taking the dog out for a walk in the morning. Neither my wife nor dog are morning people. I can’t say I really am, either, but I do enjoy the productivity that occurs first thing. For lunch I’ll grab something from the ‘fridge, or, if I’ve got errands to run, I’ll grab something tasty from a local shop (rarely if ever a chain). Dinner depends on when my wife gets home and our energy level to cook. It also depends on whether or not I’ve left my desk.
Workaholics can’t keep up the pace no matter how good they are. A day here, a day there, or an entire week when you’re on the road and not with your family may be OK. When you’re home, though, you’ve got to put boundaries in place. You’re home, you’re with your family and friends. Take advantage of it!
I say this almost as a bit of therapy and kick in the butt to myself, but I know there are plenty of others who struggle with the same challenge each and every day. Look for the cues from your loved ones. Go out and get the away time from work. In the end it’ll make you more effective and efficient when you’ve got the time in the office, whether that time is in the home office or the work office. I may have received a comment or two from my boss and my wife these past few weeks. It’s important to listen to the people you trust!
Thanks to all of those who are at home waiting for us on the road.
Travel Tip: Always check-in for your flight as soon as you can
Unless you’re flying Southwest, whether you check in 23:59 minutes prior to your scheduled departure or 00:55 prior, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is if you don’t get checked-in prior to the set cut-off time by your airline, along with any specific airport rules, you won’t get on to your flight even if there is enough time for you to walk/run to the gate.
On the other hand, check-in online and even if you don’t print your boarding pass, you’re checked-in. In my case I typically get to the airport in Savannah about 40 minutes prior to my scheduled departure. It takes me three to four minutes to get into the terminal, get my boarding pass, and get to the TSA checkpoint. Five minutes later I’m walking to my gate 500 feet away. On more than one occasion I’ve cut it a bit close and then boarded the plane with the last zone, just making the flight. I was able to get my boarding pass from the ticket counter agent and hustle to security to get on in time. Had I not checked in the day before, I would have had no chance of making the flight. Even with top tier status with Delta I won’t risk it. Play by the rules, but first know the rules!
Packing Tip: Get a new suitcase … maybe
Upon arriving from my last trip, Old Faithful, my 20-inch roll-a-board, had a broken wheel. She was under $100 and I wasn’t going to invest in a repair. My new suitcase of choice has been sitting in my closet for about 10 years. I wish I’d tried this one out earlier. It suits me much better. After packing on Sunday, I realized I’d fit seven days of clothes (and a few books) in it with space to spare and no thought of expanding it. I’d had a working suitcase so I didn’t look for anything else until that wheel broke. I suppose my lesson is: Always keep your eyes open. You may find just what you need sitting right there in your closet.
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