Travel for business can be strenuous; so can personal travel, for that matter. And time zone crossing travel just adds to that stress. Having made 3 trips to Australia, I know about time zone crossing. Melissa and I don’t do international trips for work, but crossing even 1 or 2 or 3 time zones across the USA can take a toll. The point of this post is that we’ve had to recognize jet lag is powerfully real and must be considered when planning a work trip to ensure that we’re working at 100% capacity. We’ve learned many of the jet lag reduction tips help, like drinking plenty of water and getting some sunshine on arrival. The tendency is to crash and nap, but this often slows adjusting to the new time. But, the most important thing is to realize jet lag can and often will kick your butt, so plan around it. For example, on business trips, we always build in an open day before the research or presentation to adjust. That has been the best strategy. Details like this sometimes do not seem obvious to our staff who are helping with the travel plans. Often, we have to explain this time is not a luxury, but a necessity, thus, this is included as an item in our training on travel planning. It is not worth risking letting the effects of travel degrade our performance, whatever it might be! I know many people who do not allow for such adjustments, or maybe they are just so busy they can’t take that extra time. But, even if they are “used to it,” I’m sure jet lag takes a performance, and personal, toll.
Believe me: I know all about jet lag. Early in my career as a trial consultant, I lived in Atlanta, but worked in Boston, for a company based in Los Angeles, where I had to go on a frequent basis. In any given week, I “commuted” from Atlanta to Boston on Monday, then traveled with my Boston colleagues to Los Angeles and/or other locations to work, before returning to my office in Boston, then taking the last flight out of Boston on Friday night to return to Atlanta. In addition to the arduous airplane, train, water taxi, bus, subway, and cab rides I endured in this period of my life, reporting for work in the Los Angeles headquarters of my company meant I was expected to “work, work, work” as if I had just arrived from my home in sunny Pasadena. Jet lag or no jet lag, the work had to be done and it had to be done according to my bosses’ instructions; otherwise, there would be no reason for me to continue my employment. I learned to sleep on airplanes, buses, subways, and trains whenever possible. I also learned to drink plenty of water and to expose myself to sunlight in whatever town I happened to be, so that my body could acclimate to the local time zone. I never had the luxury of having a day in between my flight and work requirements to adjust to the time zone, overcome jet lag, or relax in any capacity. When David and I founded Magnus, I vowed to avoid this type of hectic travel schedule whenever possible. There are many things in life I cannot control, but now that I am the person in charge of my work schedule, I try to make my life a little easier by scheduling my commitments with a little more breathing room than was afforded me in my early days as a so called “jet setter.”