Previous posts talk (rant) about wasting time on social media during your daily commute and how this could be put to much better use elsewhere i.e reading, writing, meditating, listening to podcasts etc, etc. But sometimes you may need to travel beyond the normal distance and be on trains / planes for several hours longer than usual. This presents an even bigger opportunity than your standard daily journey.
After recently travelling to Manchester for a 2 day face to face meeting (yeah – it was as painful as it sounds…) I had to spend 3.5 hours on trains each day. This can be a real ball ache, especially if you don’t like travel or staying away from your wife and kids.
However there’s a bunch of stuff you can do to take some of the pain away and make it a more enjoyable, richer experience. It just takes a little forethought, a note pad and the good old Internet to plan ahead and cook up an agenda (outside of the office time) that means you can have some fun.
Using this approach I changed Day 1 of the trip from being something vague like this:
- 6:30-9:30 Travel (browse social media / doze / wish the time away)
- 9:30-12 Meeting
- 12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch
- 1:00 – 6:00pm Meeting
- 7:00 – 9:00pm Dinner
- 11:00pm Bed
To something specific like this:
- 6:30 – 9:30 Travel (meditate 15 mins / read 30mins / write 30 mins / Listen to podcasts 1 hour)
- 9:30 – 12:00 Meeting
- 12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch (grab a sandwich and have a stroll around the museum of Manchester)
- 1:00 – 6:00pm Meeting
- 6:30 – 7:30pm Workout at CrossFit Central Manchester
- 7:45 – 9:00pm Dinner (Bar San Juan – voted #1 Spanish / Tapas restaurant in Manchester)
- 9:00 – 11:00pm Brew dog bar
Having a specific plan made the experience of being away from home much more fulfilling than the original vague version. You might think it’s too tiring, going from here to there and trying to cram loads in, but I came away feeling energised. I’m pretty sure I’d have been lethargic and grouchy if I’d just pottered around feeling sorry for myself with no clear goals.
The point is to have a plan, but also to remember that it is just a plan. Be careful not to load yourself up with expectations of being able to do it all. This will only lead to frustration. If you get it all down that’s great, but there’s a bunch of reasons why you may not. That’s fine too. But you have to plan ahead in order to maximise the opportunity. You have to give yourself a chance of succes and making it a memorable trip rather than just ‘another meeting’. It’s the intention that counts.
So doing some research and having a plan is the number 1 tip.
The number 2 tip is simply to minimise what you take with you.
Keep it to the bare essentials. Don’t load yourself up with loads of baggage. Take only what you truly need in order to reduce your physical and emotional load. Clothes / shoes / reading / writing material / a power supply for your gadget(s) of choice. Done. The lighter your bag, the lighter your mind.