While I don’t really have a commute, per se, as a succession planning speaker I spend a fair amount of time traveling. And it seems I’m not alone; a recent AAA survey found that the average American adult spends about 300 hours—or nearly two full weeks’ time—in the car every year. About two-thirds of that time is spent alone, which means it’s up to us how we want to spend it. So why don’t I hear anyone talking about treasuring these moments?
The answer is pretty simple—most of us are throwing our drive-time away. Think about it this way: most Americans take about two weeks of vacation per year. Would you willingly spend your entire annual holiday flipping through radio stations, scrolling through social media or steaming about the traffic? Let’s hope not! Here are three easy ways to reclaim that commute.
1. Deep Thoughts. Like those of you who take public transportation, much of my travel time on the succession planning speaker circuit is truly idle—I’m not behind the wheel, so I can devote my full attention to whatever I choose to do. Although the temptation is always great to catch up on the news or social media, I’m pretty meticulous about putting my phone (or any other screen) away during this time. The only exception is the Evernote app, which I’ve used to take notes on those rare occasions that I don’t have my trusty old-school paper notebook.
Once you remove digital distractions, you might be surprised how healthy and wholesome it feels to just let your mind wander. Do some calm thinking about a problem that’s been vexing you, or about your goals in the coming months. The idea for the Harry Potter series reportedly came to J.K. Rowling whilst she was stuck on a delayed commuter train; you never know what sort of personal brilliance might be simmering just below the surface.
2. Personal Growth or Story Time. A few years ago, I set a personal goal of reading (or listening to) 24 books every year. So, depending upon where I am on the brain power spectrum that day, I’ll either use my succession planning speaker circuit drive-time for some pure entertainment or a bit of personal growth.
While it’s great to use one’s free time to listen to an audio-book on leadership (recently I’ve enjoyed Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, available on Audible), it’s also important to recognize the importance of nurturing your mind and spirit with some true downtime. Sometimes, letting your mind experience the total immersion of great storytelling for a few hours can be a powerful reset from which you emerge refreshed.
3. Let’s Connect. Finally, here’s another either/or choice that I swear by. I often talk about the value of face-to-face meetings in maintaining strong personal and professional relationships. When this isn’t possible, a phone call can be the next best thing. Particularly for those times when I have private drive-time, I love to use these stolen moments to connect by phone.
Whether I’m catching up on business calls or chatting with an old friend, I’m a totally captive audience—which, in my book, is the only kind! Without the distractions of the home or office, it’s easy to be 100% present for the person on the other end. And, whether we’re talking about one’s personal or professional life, this is one of the best things you can do for someone else.
Here’s to Your Business Success,
Richard J. Bryan