When I’m travelling, one practice I attempt daily is creating a list to capture every activityin my notebook. It’s a bit weird, but helps my brain engage with where I am. So let’s say I have been workshopping all day, and now I’m on the train: I’ll write down a list of all the activities that took place, chronologically, in list form. Documenting my entire day, with no commentary, no emotional insight. It’s like a deep breath. I never read those lists again, but it feels like my brain was able to catch up and acknowledge what just happened. Then I can pay attention to the next thing.
Another practice is trying to give my brain specific instructions for how to spend idle time. I’ll make an A list, a B list, and maybe a C list. An “A list” is ideas/projects that I’d really love to spend time thinking about if I have the energy: things to do if I’m sitting on an airplane. If I just need to zone out, here’s the B list: less productive but maybe more entertaining things. I experience this big difference between the unavailable “spare time” in a home environment with small kids, versus, “now you have eight hours on a trip. What are you going to do?” Having that listed out in my notes on my phone in advance, so I’m not just on Facebook, really helps.
I continue the walks when I’m away. I had an extra day in London recently and I kept thinking, “I’ve got to find something fantastic to do. Maybe I’ll go to a play or maybe I’ll go out to find a nice place to eat or something.” It was valuable to remind myself that, “actually, it would be most important if you didn’t do anything. The most important thing to do would be to walk by yourself for an hour.” And I did. I just walked. It was dark, it was rainy. I didn’t find “cool” things to do, and I had an awesome week because of that investment in not depleting myself.
Something restorative for me when I’m away is just making sure there’s time to be calling home to connect with my kids and wife.