I am currently trying to write a book, and also keep up to date with all of the other admin and desk-bound work required to be a self-employed writer and speaker. It's still a very foreign world to me, and if I'm honest, I have a hard time being productive when I'm at my desk. My mind wanders, jumps from taks to task, and inevitably ends up back in some wild place on an expedition, free from all the emails and paperwork.
One of the biggest differences I notice on an expedition is that I have clearly defined goals - each day I wake up knowing my purpose, and the path to achieving that is much simpler than mapping out a day in my 'office.' So I've tried to apply some of those experiences from the adventure world to the one which I currently inhabit. I've also been reading a book called 'Your Brain at Work' by David Rock, which does a great job of condensing a lot of neuroscience to explain why it requires training and effort to achieve a high level of productivity. That it's hard work is the bad news...the good news is that a little hard work never did anyone any harm (and it is very feasible!)
So below are five tips for productivity. I write this as much for myself as anyone - I have by no means mastered them. But, I'm getting better. And the quicker I achieve these, the faster my work will be done, and the sooner I can head back off into the wilderness without a desk in sight...
"When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don't improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable. I set this matter down not to instruct others but to inform myself."
- John Steinbeck
Red dirt swirled outside, coating with a fine layer the garden chairs now strewn across the yard. Just seconds earlier I’d managed with some difficulty to wheel my bicycle into the garage and lock the door. This wasn’t exactly cycling weather.
Growing up in Northern Ireland had not prepared me for mid-west American storms. Where I come from a windy day means you hold onto your hat and leave the umbrella at home; a worst-case scenario is perhaps the exposure of a badly secured comb-over. In an Iowa storm you fasten everything you can to solid ground, locate the nearest basement and pray for those with a hairpiece.
Here's a piece I wrote recently for Tourism New Zealand. NZ is a country that really caught my imagination before I went, and absolutely lived up to everything I expected from it. Undoubtedly my favourite country during my cycle from New York to Hong Kong, check out my top 10 experiences below. Agree, disagree? Happy to hear your thoughts!