White Collar Travel: Five ways to make Mondays better

For business travelers, Mondays are pretty miserable. Take everything you hate about Mondays and add to it a 4 AM wakeup, an hour at the airport and around five hours of transit time, and you’ll get a sense of how much Monday blows for the average white collar traveler. Fortunately, there are ways you can make the first day of the week more tolerable, even you have to get up before the break of dawn and can’t sleep on the flight. I came up with a few techniques when I was on the road and found that they are rather effective.

Here are five ways you can conquer Mondays:

1. Sleep less
Yes, it’s counterintuitive, but it actually works. Get up a little earlier, and make some coffee. Give yourself a few minutes to adjust to being up at that ungodly hour. You won’t be groggy in the car on the way to the airport (a feeling I never could handle), and you’ll be alert enough to pound out e-mails on your BlackBerry or fire up your laptop and make those transit minutes billable (or at least productive).

2. Dress for comfort
Let’s assume you’re catching a 7 AM flight. You need to get to the airport an hour before that – and need to drive or be driven to the airport – so you’re leaving the house at 5 AM. And, you won’t reach the office at your destination until around noon. That means you’ll have seven hours in the clothes you’re wearing before your day even begins, and you’ll be cramped and wrinkled by the time you step off the plane. Don’t wear your work clothes on the flight. Instead, throw on a pair of jeans, shorts, etc. Step into a bathroom to change at the airport if you won’t have time to check into your hotel room before going to the office.

3. Reclaim plane time for yourself
It’s easier to take some time for yourself on the way home than it is on the way out, but it’s more valuable on the front end. You have a full day of work ahead of you: pace yourself. Give yourself a half hour or hour on the plane to read the newspaper (or Kindle, as the case may be), listen to music, watch a TV show on your iPhone or just relax. This will help you get through a long day that undoubtedly will conclude with an endless team dinner.

4. Try to get to the hotel first
This isn’t always an option, but if it’s available, take it! Drop off your bags, so you won’t have to carry them around, and jump into the shower for a few minutes just to wash the grime of the flight off you. You’ll feel refreshed. This is a viable option if you can book a hotel within walking distance of the office. If you’re not traveling solo, you’ll need to make sure your coworkers on board with this. If there’s a “Type A” on your project team, you’re screwed.

5. Sneak out for a bit
Smokers have a natural advantage here – addiction is a built-in excuse for stepping outside and getting some “fresh air.” Even if you don’t puff, concoct a reason to go outside for a while and feel the sun on your skin. Walk around; get the blood flowing. Try to do this a few hours before the end of the day (or team dinner reservations), as it will help you make it to the finish line.