How Hara Hachi Bu can make your business travel more effective and more enjoyable.

Do you travel a lot for business? Do you make this mistake when trying to be time efficient and cost effective?

I travel a lot for my work as a business writing and communication consultant. I used to make lots of business trip “mistakes” – until I started applying advice from Presentation Zen expert Garr Reynolds – especially his suggestions about hara hachi bu. 

Working in Singapore

I’m in Singapore as I write this post and Singapore is famous for its delicious food. I love coming here for work!

In the past, at the hotel breakfast I would pile up my plate. I wanted to get my money’s worth! I would gulp down the huge breakfast thinking that this “forced fuelling up” would save me having to eat lunch and that I could work through lunch. I thought I was being efficient!

The trouble was – it was actually inefficient and highly ineffective. I’d often start the day feeling so bloated and heavy and hard to get moving. I was slow and sluggish – in body and in mind!

These days – inspired by Presentation Zen – I now deliberately eat less.

It was through Presentation Zen that I learned of the Japanese expression hara hachi bu – which means eat until you are 80% full – eat until you are satisfied but without stuffing yourself too full!

I know I keep referring to Presentation Zen – but it really has made a difference. As well as getting great tips about how to improve  presentations – Presentation Zen also helps me improve my business travel – and I’m sure my health and well-being.

Garr’s applies hara hachi bu to show how you can make your presentations more effective by not cramming in too much information. I’ve also been applying the expression literally – in limiting how much I actually eat on trips (and when I am home).

so many tempting treats – hard to resist!

There’s a danger that Business travelers can often over-eat for many reasons.

  1. because they can – there is often a seemingly endless supply of food at hotels
  2. because they feel they want to get their money’s worth
  3. because they think they are being efficient. (As I did – rationalizing that a huge breakfast would saving me having to eat lunch)

I now also eat slower and take time to enjoy the food. I feel lighter and more energised.  My days seem to go better.

I try to have a small lunch to re-energise. It’s not just about eating more food at lunch – it’s about having a break from work. This sounds so simple and “obvious” – but it’s hard to resist the urge to just work on through lunch.

I also make sure I have arrive at breakfast earlier to take more time to enjoy breakfast. I eat slower – tasting and enjoying the food rather than just gulping it down. I usually eat lots of Asia food – but this morning I really felt like an omelette. So I  ordered a small(ish)  omelette  – relishing the crunch of the onion and the full flavor (and texture) of the cheese! It was so satisfying. I could have fitted in more – but I stopped before I got 100% full!

I watched other businessmen piling mountains of food on their plates and gulping down their food in a rush. I know it can be hard for men to resist piles of bacon and it does take discipline  – but the results are worth it.

As a result of hara hachi bu – I feel lighter and brighter and enjoying my business trip and my work more too!

At work training Better Business Writing – and performing better too thanks to hara hachi bu!

Here is a link to Presentation Zen and Garr’s post about Hara Hachi Bu:


Garr Reynolds – Presentation Zen

(Also, I’d like to let you know that I didn’t copy my dark glasses and dark wardrobe from Garr! I had this look long before I’d even heard of Presentation Zen.)

Garr also likes taking photographs of food especially the beauty of the Bento Box. here is a link to another post about Bento Box Bliss. Do not read this post if you are hungry!




About doubleshot media

Hi, I'm a lawyer turned journalist/speechwriter/presentation coach - combining business experience with personal passions for music and writing to blog about persuasion, retro, music, and even business lessons from theatre and performing
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