THE PRODUCTIVE COMMUTE ED WISEMAN
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.