Long-haul business trips can be rewarding for a few reasons-- you get to experience differences in food and culture, you can use the time to work on individual projects, and you can have more solitude, depending on the trip. However, having to go back to work the day after flying can be put a damper on the entire experience.
As someone who is constantly traveling for my job, I had to figure out a way to combat jet lag quickly. I've had embarrassing moments where I could barely keep my eyes open during important meetings and I didn't know whether I was coming or going. Let's just say it didn't make a very good impression.
Luckily I've gone through it so you don't have to. Here are a few strategies to combat jet lag while having to be in the office.
1. Get a good night's sleep the night before.
As cliche as this sounds, do try to stick to a routine. Shower, eat, and exercise the morning that you return to work. I also highly recommend leaving everything organized the day before so you can leave for work as stress-free as possible.
2. Participate in one-on-one meetings.
Conducting one-on-one meetings can keep you alert enough to get through the day as we often get energy from each other. That said, meeting more than one person may be a bit too exhausting since getting together with groups requires the right amount of energy to focus without it being overwhelming.
3. Keep your schedule and workload light.
This is easier said than done, but if you can, keep your schedule light. Do the tasks that don't require too much effort. I like to use the time to get organized, both digitally and physically. I sometimes put on some good music and rearrange my environment to keep me a bit more alert.
Additionally, follow the normal sleeping and eating schedule of the time zone you are currently in. Try to get into the flow of things as much as possible. Avoid the temptation to sleep or eat at odd times.
4. Take a nap.
If you absolutely must sleep, take a nap. Obviously this is not an option for a number of people, but if it can work for you, do it. A 20-minute nap should be enough to recharge you without putting you into a deep sleep.
Don't get too comfortable though. I've planned for 20 minutes but instead woke up 2 hours later. I highly recommend setting the room temperature to about 75 degrees to be just comfortable enough without going overboard.
5. Get some sunlight.
This is one of the easiest ways to wake yourself up and reset. If you can take periodic breaks to step outside, do it. Weather permitting, I recommend eating lunch outside. While I don't recommend sitting in direct sunlight for a long period of time, sitting in nature can help you to reset.
If you can, squeeze in a workout in your day, preferably in the early morning or during your lunch hour. Even better, take a quick stroll around the block. A brisk walk before and after lunch will reset your body and help break up your day.
7. Pay attention to what you're eating and drinking.
This is one of the most crucial factors that affects how you sleep. Pills, alcohol, and/or caffeine will throw off your circadian rhythm. Caffeine may make you crash once the caffeine wears off. Salty and heavy meals will also disrupt your digestion and add to the jet lag.
Instead, drink plenty of water and keep your meals fresh and not overly processed or fried. I've found that herbal teas and small meals are a great way to keep me going. I like to indulge in tea and snacks that I got from my business trip to the office. Chewing gum also helps.
Bonus tip: fly business or first class.
To minimize the effects of jet lag, fly business or first class. These seats are designed to help you stretch out and make the most of your space for a better experience. Being more comfortable will make it easier for your body to adjust.
Use a business credit card to earn points and miles for your flight. Through a business credit card, you can get upgrades to make your experience even better. Lounge access, quality food, and more comfortable seats are only some of the perks that come with being a business credit card cardholder.