If I am in an airport, in a cab or a rental, I make sure to call home to check-in. Or if I know my family is not available, I will use that time to catch up on emails and voicemails.
For some, living out of a suitcase is normal when it comes to their work life. I know that for myself, I often have to travel throughout the entire state of Florida, sometimes even out of state for two weeks or more. I enjoy my job, which means I am very loyal and passionate about being the best I can be at work. But I also do not want to miss out on all the important things at home either. So how do I balance work and my personal life? Good question, and while I do not have all the answers, I do have some great tips to help you along the way.
• Communication is key. Technology has definitely afforded me the ability to communicate much quicker and easier. Skype or FaceTime are great tools to actually see my family and catch up at night when I have some down time from my meetings during the day. I also keep up by texting and emailing throughout the day when I have a minute or two to spare between meetings.
• Make your family feel part of your travels. I make sure to take photos of things I may see along my travels or pick up small trinkets for my family members. This way they feel like they were part of the trip in some way as well.
• Use your time properly. If I am in an airport, in a cab or a rental, I make sure to take that time to call home for a quick check-in. Or if I know my family is not available, I will use that time to catch up on emails and voicemails that came in while I was in meetings.
• Get organized. While I am on the plane, I use that time to review my meetings notes and plan my next steps/tasks when I am back in the office. I call it my “5 before 11. I make a list of my five most important things I need to get done before 11 a.m.” This way I stay on track and focused. Once I have that finished, I take some time to rest and relax so when I come home I am in a calm mood and ready to spend time with my family. This also gets me prepared for when I am back in the office — I can start my day off right. By preparing and being organized the night before, I am much more productive the next day.
• Plan your own vacation. I always make sure to take time during the year to spend with my family on a vacation of our own. I limit my cell phone/email usage to only a few planned times during the day so I can focus on my family. It is so important to give my full attention and be present. Or if I can, I will tack a day or two on to my business trip for a mini vacation with my family. I will fly out with my family on a Saturday so we can share a couple days together prior to my business meetings.
• Know when you are at your sharpest. Do you work better in the morning or are you a night person? If I can, I plan my trips based on when I know I will get the most done. Being a morning person, I start early so I can really make the most of my day.
• Be prepared. My family and I will have dinner together Sunday night and as soon as the dessert is done, my husband and I pull out our calendars for the week to review personal and professional events taking place. This way we are on the same page and there are no surprises. If I am traveling, this also helps me to know when they are available to catch up.
Balancing your personal and professional life while being on the road is definitely something not mastered overnight. But with a few of my tips above, I have learned to better cope with being a good wife and a good manager/leader, while also having time to be good to myself. It also helps that I like to be challenged and am dedicated to my job. But even a mover and shaker, as I have been tagged, needs some down time.
Natasha Cartagena Spencer is senior vice president of Shelter Mortgage in Melbourne. She enjoys adventurous travel and learning the game of golf with her husband, Brian Spencer, a “scratch” golfer. She does love a challenge!