10 Work-Life Balance Tips for Traveling Jobs
The balance you find between your professional and personal life might contribute most to your overall fulfillment.
If being on the road is a large part of your job, your work/life balance can get thrown out of whack. The most serious truckers might spend more than 250 days on the road every year. That’s a lot. Maybe you miss your son’s big baseball game. Maybe it’s just a dinner party or a birthday party. Whatever it is, it sucks. I’m certain your family gets it and appreciates your sacrifice as a provider. But if you’re not prepared for this, the stress can add up. Luckily, we live in the modern age. There are many awesome tools to help maintain a good work-life balance for those on the road.
1. Choose your priorities carefully.
Many people who travel for work do so because they’ll earn more money on the road than at home. Earning more is always great, but not if it disrupts your life balance. Before saying yes to every haul, know what you’re missing at home. Will this next drive mean you’ll miss your daughter’s annual recital? As always, ask whether each will matter in five minutes, five days, five months or five years. Base your decisions on what’s most important and don’t just give in because someone else says you should (be that your boss or your spouse).
2. Get everyone on board with your professional schedule.
Although you base decisions on your priorities, it’s important to ensure your family agrees with your driving schedule. While you may think they ask more than you can give, it’s important your spouse and children feel they’ve been considered when you are making decisions. Ask their opinions on the best times and optimal number of hours away for your drives. Also, ask how you can make it easier for them while you are away. For example, your spouse may need a break from the kids before you go away to ensure he or she is rested and in a good mental state before taking on all the work. As well, your kids might also appreciate some one-on-one time before you go, even if only for an hour. Asking them what they need ensures they know you care, even when you aren’t there to show them.
Once you’ve assessed your priorities, delegate what isn’t a priority to ensure work-life balance. While you might love a clean home, you probably don’t have the time to keep it that way if you are always on the road. Hiring a cleaning company takes that task away from you, leaving you to work on other, more important things, such as building a better relationship with your kids.
4. Use technology to stay in touch.
Being away from family and friends can be very difficult. For some, the focus on work keeps them from missing their connections. But it is very important to stay connected to your home life, especially when you have children. Using the bounty of technologies available, you can keep yourself connected to your family. Services such as FaceTime and Skype enable video calls with your family. Some ideas for video calls that add quality to your relationships include:
- Reading your child a bedtime story.
- Eating dinner together (even if you are eating on your hotel bed).
- Playing board games.
5. Stick with a schedule.
If at all possible, the best way to maintain a home-life balance is to set a schedule and stick to it. If you workout every morning at 7am, keep that up whether at home or on the road. The same goes for meals and family time. If you call your family at 6pm every night while on the road, make sure you do it every day.
6. Take care of your health.
Being on the road can be really hard on your health. Truckers tend to eat whatever is easiest, such as fast food. There isn’t always time to exercise and even sleep, so your health can suffer quite a bit. By the time you get back home, you feel lousy, sluggish and just plain off. Do yourself a favor: Slot in time for exercise and make healthy eating choices. Many fast food restaurants now have healthy choices, so opt for the sub instead of the burger and fries. Being in a better mental and physical place will help you maximize your family time.
7. Make the most out of home time.
It seems like common sense, but many truckers don’t heed this tip. Making the most of your time at home means you really focus and live in the moment. Do all the things you enjoy. Spend time with your spouse and kids. Eat your favorite home-cooked meals and relax in your favorite chair. Savor those moments at home and you’ll feel OK leaving them for the next trip. Finish that nagging to-do list before your next trip. You really don’t want to receive that call an hour after you’ve left telling you the car has broken down because you didn’t get it serviced. Once you are on the road, your family is essentially without your help. Do what you can to ensure they are set up well.
9. Have things that remind you of home
If you feel as if your work-life balance has swayed toward life on the road, why not bring some of home along? If possible, bring a token from each family member. Maybe it’s a picture of the kids, a bracelet that reminds you of your old lady. Anything to keep your heart in the right place will be super important in framing your head space.
10. Reframe the work-life balance equation
Being on the road can be lonely – especially when you have a beautiful family at home. Instead of adding up time spent at home or at work in a week, consider it over a longer period of time. You obviously can’t think in terms of 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Think bigger. How many days are you on the road? How many days do you spend with the family? Taking a full week off after two or three weeks of travel ensures that you keep your work and life balanced.
Living on the road is tough. You need to work against the family life balance to get it right. While you get to see and visit different places, you also miss the stability and comfort of home. Keeping a good work-life balance is essential for preventing problems with your relationships, your health and your general well-being. These 10 tips should help keep you balanced, so you can earn money and be happy.