I spend a lot of time on planes and in airports. To most, travel time seems like wasted time. How to spend my time - should I read a book, watch a movie on my tablet, or spend my time at the airport bar? All of these things have some value, and if you are looking to unwind and escape, it is probably a good idea.
There are other options. Most leaders agree that getting time away from emails and meetings is important. The daily barrage of email, phone calls and meetings may keep us busy, but the daily information flow is 'tactical stuff'. Tactical as in implementing an idea. Leaders and managers need time to think strategically. It is almost impossible to think strategically while answering emails and attending meetings.
I have taken the approach of using the time while on planes and airport lounges to do some strategy brainstorming. The areas I usually focus on are:
- Is there something I am missing - some concept, some competitor, or some product/service I should be investigating?
- I know we should think about 5 year goals, but in this 'mini strategy' sessions, I focus on the next 3 to 6 to 9 months of business activity.
- Also think about what things you professionally and personally want to focus on (how you want to get better, and stronger).
- Always keep something handy to write on. I write notes/thoughts on my cellphone notepad, paper notepads, and such tools as Evernote and Microsoft OneNote.
- The goal is to get the brain thinking at a higher level, without getting bogged down in the weeds.
With this kind of thinking, you can become revitalized and refreshed about how to make my company a better, stronger, more competitive company.
There is also an added benefit - business travel teaches patience. Yes, that wonderful quality of letting the other guy go first, not being snarly at everyone - getting into the 'zen' of travel. It makes you a better human being.
David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com). David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation. @dhaynestech.