These days many of us spend a good portion of our time on the road — whether for business travel or personal time away. It can be a real challenge to deal with demands from others when you’re away from the office. But it’s important to manage your time and priorities as much as possible — and to set healthy boundaries.
For myself, when I’m at a multi-day training or just taking a couple of days of business meetings in another city, for example, I do my best to ensure my clients know that I’ll be away and slower to respond during that time period. This allows me to stay fully present and focused on the activities that I’ve got my attention aimed at in the moment while eliminating the distractions of calls and meetings. Of course there are exceptions to that, and you’ve got to remain flexible enough to deal with those situations while you’re on the road. One thing I try to do is to stay current on responses to incoming e-mails each day — either before I turn in at night or first thing in the morning — so people feel that you’re being as responsive as you can in a timely fashion; that’s especially important if something arises that’s time-sensitive or critical enough that it just won’t wait. Even if you’re on vacation, taking an hour to clear your e-mails will give you peace of mind. Of course, many people use their auto away e-mail responder messages to alert people that they’re away and that there may be a delay in their responsiveness. That’s fine too.
In summary, the best ways I’ve found to handle this is by managing expectations about your limited availability on the front end, and then dealing with situations that won’t wait by exception in real-time as best you can. For the most part, putting things that can wait on the back burner until you’re back in your office and your normal routine can really help to preserve your sanity and keep you on track.
What are your tips for coping with demands when on the road? Be sure to leave a comment!