I love to drive. I love to drive long distances. Yes, I moan and complain about other drivers, and it can get frustrating when you are stuck in traffic. However, I really like the practice of getting from one place to the next, while enjoying the experience along the way.
In the United States we have an amazing Interstate Highway System. It was initiated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower when he signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956.
“The Interstate System has been a part of our culture as construction projects, as transportation in our daily lives, and as an integral part of the American way of life. Every citizen has been touched by it, if not directly as motorists, then indirectly because every item we buy has been on the Interstate System at some point. President Eisenhower considered it one of the most important achievements of his two terms in office, and historians agree.” 
The highways have allowed us to be more efficient and productive as a people and a nation. The concept of driving on a highway (and enjoying it), is like the pursuit of optimizing your time (and enjoying it). In my new book, The Time Optimized Life, I seek to change the reactive concept of time management into a proactive approach of time optimization through six different categories. Let’s see how they apply with my “driving on the highway” analogy.
No long driving trip can be successful without planning.
Purpose: What is the goal of the trip?
Duration: How long will it take?
Resources: What will I need?
Direction: What’s the route? What are the alternatives?
Now apply these same questions to how you plan your day, and you have an outline to know what you want to accomplish with structure and objective. You know your intention, that creates the right goals, you set your calendar to allocate the right time, you’ve determined what you need, and you know the right actions to take.
Certain items need to be accomplished along the route which may or may not tie back to the planning you have done on the trip.
Top Activity: stopping for gas.
Second Activity: biological breaks.
Third Activity: deciding when and what to eat.
Fourth Activity: stop and sightsee.
Now, align the activities approach to how you plan your day, and you’ll build a list that ties back to your planning and is prioritized by what is most important. At the end, whatever might be leftover is the least important. It can wait until later.
When out on the road it is important you continue to check what is happening on the inside of the vehicle.
Are you going at the right speed?
How is the fuel situation?
Are there any engine lights on?
Is the radio/Bluetooth too loud?
Think of internal focus on what is happening inside of you. Ensuring you are motivated in the right areas, pushing through and past procrastinating on important items of the day, and eliminating any distractions that stop you from being productive – each of these are controlled by you. So, proceed at the right pace, check your energy level, watch for any warning signs, and stay time-optimized.
Even more important on a road trip is paying attention to what is happening outside the car.
Are you a safe distance from the next vehicle?
Are the weather and road conditions safe?
Are you able to enjoy the scenery around you?
External focus in relation to optimizing your time is about challenging interruptions that come your way, knowing when to say no, and keeping the talk down and the action up.
I like to keep the interior of the car clean. It makes the journey more enjoyable. When I traveled with small children and pets, they could make it a lot more difficult.
Are there cleaning supplies?
Do we clean out the trash at each stop?
Can we get at things that are packed away quickly, if needed?
Organization in a time-optimized sense is staying committed and finishing what you start, keeping a sense of order in your life and using the most important tool, your calendar.
Ensuring you are able and alert enough to drive keeps you, your passengers, and everyone else safe on the road.
How many breaks do I plan to take during the day?
When is it time to stop driving or switch off?
What steps am I taking to rest before the long drive?
Personal care is often overlooked as a way to be more productive. Getting enough sleep, taking formal breaks during the day and exercising regularly will all lead to greater time-optimization.
I get it. It is not an ideal comparison.
Driving a car and personal productivity is not a perfect analogy. However, think about how you generally use your time. How many times at the close of the workday does it feel like you just sat and drive in a car all day? Did you get to your “destination” (tasks, activities projects completed), or did you just start driving and found you stopped in the middle of nowhere?
Maybe my driving analogy isn’t that far off?
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