I'm getting ready to take a business trip. It's no big deal. I do them every couple of months, just like many of you. But mine is going to be different than the  trips that most of you take. Instead of staying in a national chain hotel with  the    pre-packaged rooms, mine will be at a spa, in a room customized for me.  The cool thing is, I will only pay a few dollars more than you pay.

First off, let's talk about the hotel I will be staying at. It can be in any city, in any state in the USA. I usually try to choose a hotel that is not where my business will be taking place. I try to find one that is about a five-minute walk from the business hotel/location. While it may sound inconvenient, think about how much you can clear your head from work in a five-minute walk. That in itself is worth the effort.

The next thing is my customized room. It starts out that the things that I do are what makes the difference. Little things that I bring, taking up little space in my luggage. Rarely do I have to, but even if I have to bring an extra bag, round-trip costs only $50 or so. Would you spend $50 to have a really great night's sleep on the road? Would you spend it to have all the comforts of a spa, versus the cookie-cutter hotel room?  I would and I do!

First thing into my spa bag is a pillow with my own pillow case. Ideally I wash the case a few days before my trip and sleep on it for a couple of nights. There is nothing more relaxing than your own scent. I also like to pack my robe and slippers, you know a big thick cotton robe and comfortable "Sunday morning" slippers. That takes care of the big stuff. If you are limited on space, pack the slept-on pillow case and put it on the hotel pillow. The effect will be similar. 

Now come the small things. Since scent is the sense that most triggers relaxation, I like to bring a few things that will make the trigger happen. First off are candles. I burn them whenever I am in the room (and awake). Ideally, I use three to four for an average sized hotel room. I get the ones in little jars for a $1 apiece at the drug stores. Personally, I like the vanilla cream, but you can get whatever fragrance pleases you the most. If you get the inexpensive votive or tea lights, you can burn them in extra drinking glasses. Make sure you get the scented candles though, as they can make all the difference.

When I watch television, I turn out the lights and enjoy the flickering of the candlelight. Along the same lines, don't forget a small bottle of your favorite essential oil for your bath or a bottle of massage oil to rub on after your shower. Don't be afraid to pamper yourself a little bit.

Next, I always travel with a small CD or MP3 player. As well as my favorite music, I carry music and nature sounds with which to relax. If you like, a small set of speakers can help add to the ambiance of the room. That way I can hear the music anywhere in the room, especially when I go to sleep. As a rule, I let it play all night at a low level near my bed, drowning out the sounds of traffic and inconsiderate neighbors.

The last thing on my list are some sort of special treats. I make sure to pack, or buy as soon as I get there, something special to drink. Most hotel rooms have coffeemakers, so a fresh brewed cup of gourmet coffee or tea is just a few minutes away. Not only do you have the taste you want to treat yourself to, but you also have the aroma. What can be better, except perhaps for a treat to eat. Special chocolates or toffees, something decadent that isn't on the diet. After all, we all need a reward for taking this business trip.

Now you have some of my ideas. What will make your next business trip into a spa retreat?

Published Articles by Coach Jim, Mind Coach
Like many of you, I often work from a home office. Over the past few years, that has been a common change. Unfortunately, we haven’t  all made the changes in our office to better accommodate our minds and our senses. Here  are a few tips that can help you make the most of your office time and feel better about it).

First off, learn to separate your office life from your personal life. If you have a room to dedicate to your home office, that is great. If you don’t, I recommend that you formally designate whatever space you have. I have found that something as simple as a throw rug to help set-off the space visually can make a big difference in my mindset.

Once you have the designated space, make sure to keep it pure. If you want to eat lunch or take a coffee break, leave the office area. Go to the kitchen or dining room to eat. Have the coffee break in the living room, that is what they are there for. The office is for work. If you have a cup of coffee or tea while you work, then stay in the office.

Remember to take breaks as frequently as you would if your boss was in the office right next door. Keep your focus when working, but take a break to refresh you when you need. Remember to get out of the office when you do.

Now, back to that office retreat I promised you. No matter how small or large the space, these simple and inexpensive tricks can help make the office space more appealing to your senses.

One of our strongest senses is smell. Treat yourself to a scented candle, slow-burning incense or scented oil. Check out an aromatherapy book or website for idea on which fragrance promotes which feeling in you. If you want calm, use lavender, for example. If I want to feel motivated, I like eucalyptus. Remember, with something like a candle or incense, you can change the aroma to match your mood. Obviously, be careful of where you place an open flame.

The next move is to create a peaceful environment for your eyes. Feel free to hang pictures that evoke a relaxed feeling in you, such as a beach scene or mountain meadow. Whenever you need a quick “mental break”, let yourself “go into the picture”. If you can’t hang pictures, use your favorite pictures as a screen saver or slideshow on your computer. If you have a video of, perhaps your last family vacation at the beach, play it often to remind you of why you do all the work you do.

Sound is another way to help create a peaceful work environment in your home office. Either with a cd or mp3 player, or with your computer, you can easily play relaxing sounds or music that can actually help improve your focus. If, for example, your home office has a beach theme, consider a recording of the sounds of waves crashing against the shore. If you have gone for a country theme, perhaps bird and nature sounds will be more appropriate. Even a rain and thunderstorm can relax some people. Pick the sounds that work best for you. Remember, you can change them to match the mood you are in (or want to be in).

The rest of the transformation is easy. Wear comfortable clothes, you may find you work better in a comfy robe instead of slacks and a button-down shirt. Remember, it is YOUR office, YOU set the rules.

Make sure your chair is comfortable, and that you stretch every 30 minutes or so. You get up much more at the office than you do at your home office. 

Let voicemail answer your calls when you can. It helps you keep your focus. Pick a couple of times during the day to review and respond to voicemails and emails. It’s an easy habit, once you start keeping the times consistent.

And, most importantly, remember that it is YOUR office and, if something doesn’t work for you, you can always change it.

Enjoy your new space!
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Coach Jim, Mind Coach