Friday, March 29, 2013

Trip lag

Everyone knows about jet lag, and indeed, I’ve spent much of this week up close and personal with it – falling asleep at odd hours, unable to stay awake past 9pm, etc. But it’s the trip lag that hits me the hardest.

Let me explain that.

Meetings in my organization are intense – really intense. I mentioned in my last post how one of my far-flung colleagues described her first meeting as like ‘getting plugged into the Matrix’, which describes it better than I ever could. I have felt this way since my first one back in 1999, a month after I started, and the feeling has only increased as I’ve logged more time in the organization, and as my life around my job has changed – especially becoming a parent and moving away from Oxford, one of the busiest centers of organizational activity. When I lived in Oxford, I was in regular, often daily, face-to-face contact with people that I worked with; now I spend most of my working days in a home office, with most of my colleagues halfway across the world, sound asleep while I’m working and vice versa. I schedule my working hours around school runs, meal prep, and evening conference calls when the Europeans and North Americans are online. Most of the people I encounter in my daily round here require a five-minute explanation of who I work for and what we do, if it even comes up in conversation.

Then, once or twice a year, I head off to a meeting. For a week or more, I’m with my colleagues – many of whom are also friends – day and night. We talk about work stuff – by choice! – most of the time, along with whatever else we feel like catching up on. We resolve nagging problems, brainstorm ideas, share anecdotes and gossip, plan projects. We use acronyms and spout jargon. My biggest concerns are making all my meetings, getting access to the venue wifi, and finding a good place to have dinner.

Then it’s over. Time to unplug, trek home, and slot back into the daily routine of a working parent. Time to pick up on all the things that got pushed on to the back burner during trip prep and now need doing – filing tax returns, decluttering the storage area, catching up with school permissions slips, scheduling dentist appointments. Time to resume all the routine work tasks that need doing, as well as all the fun stuff that you’ve just been discussing. I freely admit these are first-world problems, but it does cause a little bit of a crash, and can lead to loss of oomph in a variety of areas.

That’s trip lag. I haven’t worked out the average recovery period yet – it seems to vary from meeting to meeting. I reckon it took me two weeks or more after Auckland. I’ve been back from Oxford since Sunday, and it’s still going strong. My main coping strategy is to find ways to reward myself for doing things I have no burning desire to do (like clean up my email backlog) with things I do want to do (like cooking projects).

Today, having completed a four-day week that nevertheless seemed longer than usual, I celebrated the start of the long Easter weekend by beginning prep for the brunch I’m hosting on Sunday (much smaller than last year’s, I might add!). I spent most of the day making tarrale, and also remembered to hard-boil some eggs for a dyeing session with Miss B.

Maybe things are looking up after all.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...