It's apt way to describe someone who travels very frequently for work, whose portfolio is bulging with frequent flier miles and hotel points and rental car upgrades, who's on a plane or some other form of transportation more often than not.
Some of us think of it as a badge of honor, to travel often and be present, face to face, at one meeting after another, regardless of how far-flung the destinations of those meetings are.
I'm all for face-to-face. I'm all for being present. And I'm actually all for making concerted efforts to show up, regardless of the mileage required to get there.
But I draw the line at identifying with "road warrior," mainly because of the extreme compromises it entails that risk sacrificing our health and any sort of work-life balance we aim to achieve.
Even warriors take breaks, and frankly just the sound and resonance of "road warrior" is exhausting.
At some point in my life, and maybe in the lives of most entrepreneurs, it's beneficial to accept the reality of an almost non-stop travel schedule in order to get a business up and off the ground, particularly when suppliers and clients are in disparate locations. But that doesn't mean letting our physical bodies get completely out of whack, and it doesn't mean letting our personal relationships go completely off the rails.
The secret, I think, is in finding points of micro-balance. When we're on the road three or more days out of the week, we can hardly expect to also find three or more rest days that will recalibrate balance in our lives. But we can expect to find micro-balance within those days, during both rest and travel.
Fortunately there are strategies we can put into place that keep our balance from veering off course. Here are four suggestions for finding micro-balance, to take advantage of the "road warrior" times of our lives and make them work for us.
1. Take advantage of the travel time.
Just for a moment, consider all the "found moments" we can tap into when we travel. Standing in line at a security checkpoint or passport control at an airport, for example, or a train or taxi/Lyft ride from one meeting to another. These segments of time are a lot like interval training during workouts: short, discrete bursts of effort, that result metaphorically into a metabolism boost of productivity.
Fill "found moments" by checking off tasks that need one way or another to get done, like a quick but time-sensitive email to a colleague, or listening to a podcast or audio book, or even calling home to check in. Once you start moving on a task, especially one you may have been putting off, you'll be surprised how quickly you'll be able to check "Done."
2. Take advantage of a different time zone.
Three or six or eight hours' time difference, depending on how far from home base you need to travel, translate at some point into windows of waking hours when co-workers and colleagues don't expect you to be "on." Which translates to dedicated time for heads-down work that moves a project forward.
We all crave uninterrupted time during our days to simply focus. Varying time zones, a natural by-product of travel, enables windows of uninterrupted time that we otherwise have a hard time fitting into our schedules.
3. Take advantage of time alone.
For as much as I adore the social nature of my work, and the relationship-building that is utterly fundamental to its successful functioning, I also appreciate deeply its exact opposite: time alone. It sounds cliché to reiterate the importance of taking time to recharge and rejuvenate, but the evidence for the benefits of that are undeniable, both scientifically and anecdotally.
Think about it as "getting your feet back under you." Think about it as a reminder of why we're doing the work in the first place. Either way, the solitude of travel affords us minutes (sometimes even hours!) to reflect, and restore energy levels back to capacity.
4. Take advantage of a revised schedule.
This one hits home for working parents, especially. With kids' and babysitter's schedules to juggle in addition to our own, arranging our day-to-day logistics can be exhausting. Take advantage of the time away from the exertion of this, and rechannel it to concentrated blocks of time dedicated to tasks that normally fall by the wayside of "not enough time in the day," like clearing out our inbox or getting ahead on a project scheduled for a few weeks down the road.