The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

Bri­tain com­mutes by road. Only about 10 per cent of us take the train, about the same per­cent­age who walk. A hand­ful can cy­cle, or take the bus, but more than two thirds of UK em­ploy­ees drive to work in a car or van. As a motoring jour­nal­ist, I join them on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, ei­ther to and from our London of­fice, or fur­ther afield. In the past four weeks I’ve spent 60 hours be­hind the wheel. It’s hard to avoid the nag­ging reality that this is time wasted.

I speak to Grace Mar­shall – “head coach, chief en­cour­ager, au­thor and pro­duc­tiv­ity ninja” – about this slack in my life. She asks me a cou­ple of ques­tions about my work and at­ten­dant frus­tra­tions, be­fore press­ing me on my own am­bi­tions. I tell her that I don’t have space for such fri­vol­i­ties.

“Give your­self time for think­ing,” she says. “Maybe about some of the ‘ big­ger pic­ture’ things. Are there any strate­gic projects of your own that don’t get a look-in?”

Hmm. There are things I’ve put on the back burner be­cause of my day job. Things I want to do but which I haven’t had the time to even think about. Grace es­sen­tially tells me to stop think­ing about work, but that doesn’t mean I can just switch off and am­ble around my own head; even per­sonal time needs some struc­ture to be pro­duc­tive. Prompts and a “to-do” list help chan­nel my men­tal en­ergy in con­struc­tive di­rec­tions, and I set some achiev­able ob­jec­tives for my drive into work.

It re­ally is ef­fec­tive. By climb­ing into the driver’s seat with a clear idea of what I need to think about and the con­clu­sions I need to reach, an hour-long drive be­comes a use­ful part of the day. And be­cause I leave those is­sues in the car when I go into the of­fice, they don’t add back­ground stress to a crowded work­ing day.

A car jour­ney, it turns out, can see you mov­ing for­wards in more ways than one.

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