I spend a lot of time on the A1(M) these days.
An average of 15 hours a week, give or take.
My approach is simple. I estimate how long it will take from waking up in bed to finding a decent car parking space at work. I then set my alarm accordingly. My concerns tend to only exist at the start and the finish. I don’t always care what happens along the way. Interest levels in a road are linked solely to risk management, avoidance and filling the time with other interests.
Podcasts or audiobooks, mainly.
Then I started to notice things as I was driving up to Newcastle one day. I saw a weather balloon flying above RAF Dishforth. Or those crows that always seem to hover over the same tree near Leeming Bar. There is a green container/tower belonging to Chas Long and Son, which means I am almost at Scotch Corner. Which is neither a corner, nor very Scotch.
If I can see a new building going up, it must mean I am outside Durham. Likewise, if I see the Penshaw Monument it means it is time to move in to the inside lane. Traffic building up is a clear indication that I am approaching Washington Services. Even the Angel of the North is a marker that I am 15 minutes from my parking space.
A quick check of the clock suggests that I am still on track.
It made me think long and hard about a piece of work I had to do. To review and update 23 documents. Something I had put on the back burner as I was fixated on the 23, and there were other priorities I had to manage along side it.
Rather than think of one document as the weather balloon. Or even five as the time it took to get out of bed and on to the A1(M) itself. I just saw 23 and 0. Start and finish. The big picture of my journey.
So I kept putting aside the right amount of time for the work required. Blocking out my diary as I did. Which got eaten in to, cut up; evaporated with yet another “Have you got five minutes?”
That drive up the A1(M) that brought many of the previously hidden signposts in to view, had a direct impact – not on the time I woke up or the time I got to work – but on the approach I took to something completely different.
It made me question my approach. To consider what I am good at, where improvements still need to be made – and how there is a time and a place for knowing the full distance, as there is for chunking a journey up.