I mentioned about two weeks ago that I was on vacation. I spent about two weeks on Maui with my cousin Meg visiting some friends of hers who are actually live there. It was gorgeous and relaxing and did I mention gorgeous? But, I ran into a problem I have some trouble with every time I go out of town: getting back into my routine when I get home. I've been home for a week, and I finally feel like I'm in my normal flow of activity. I'm still staying up later and waking up later than I would prefer. (And I'm finally watching Big Little Lies, which may be keeping me up at night!) I'd blame jet lag, but it feels like this happens every time I go away. The obvious solution is to travel less, but I want to build some more resilient habits so shorter trips and weekend visitors don't derail me either.
I've been strategizing about how I can smooth these transitions a bit more:
Before a longer trip, get as much done and scheduled as possible. Have you ever noticed how so many bloggers travel a ton, yet never have a gap in their posting? Planning and writing posts in advance means I'm not scrambling during vacation or missing out on posting content while I'm away. That might sound like it's not very spontaneous, but that's okay- most of my content isn't so topical that I can't prepare it in advance.
During a trip, carving out concrete time to work. The time fills up with fun activities or just hanging out with the people I'm traveling with or visiting. Sometimes that downtime is the most memorable part of a trip, and I don't want to miss out by locking myself away with my computer.
I have to be better about letting the people I'm with know that I'm going to need a few hours Thursday morning to get some work done, so I can be free the rest of the weekend. The other part of that is to have specific tasks to complete during that work time, and plan tasks that don't require total concentration, like editing does, so I can be efficient and productive.
After a trip, having posts lined up for the day after I get back and the day after that if I can. That way, I can catch up on emails and other tasks and get back into my routine with feeling like I'm scrambling to get something onto the blog.
Weekends end up being tricky as well. I like to take advantage of the flexibility in my schedule by saying yes to events and opportunities during the week. Yesterday, I spent a few afternoon hours doing errands on foot, and today I'm volunteering in the morning for 826CHI and going to an event with an arts club I'm in this evening. That means I end up working over the weekends. It's part of my routine now, and I actually enjoy it. When I have a lot happening on the weekend- which tends to happen over the summer- it's a bit disruptive. I think I have to commit myself to getting more done by the end of the day on Friday.
I know these are all nice problems to have, and aren't unique to me. When you work for yourself, managing your time is an ongoing, ever-evolving challenge. There are so many upsides- like being able to take my work with me or volunteering on a Wednesday morning- that the downsides seem trivial. But, developing sustainable, productive habits and strategies will help me have the best of both worlds: a busy work life with the flexibility to do the things I love.