Tag Archives: interruptions

Thoughts on Travel Schedules and Personal Productivity (from Jason Fried)

Many years ago, I traveled — a lot.  It really was too much.

A friend of mine once told me that it takes three days to take a one day trip:  one day to get ready (actually getting ready, and thinking about the trip getting ready); then the day you take the trip; then the third day, back at home, unwinding from the trip.  So, a one day trip is a three day hit on productivity.

That hit is deadly.

Well, here is a blog post (in its entirety), from Jason Fried, one of the 37Signals/ReWork guys.  (Internal links are from Fried).  It is worth reading:

The pleasure of an open schedule Jason F. Jun 10

For the past few months I’ve been traveling every week or every other week. The travel has been primarily for public speaking events – conferences, workshops, book signings, etc. It’s been fun, but it comes at a very high cost: A chaotic schedule.

We’ve written (and spoken) at length about the pitfalls of interruption at work. Every interruption cuts your work day into a series of work moments. 45 minutes here, then a meeting. A hour there, then a conference call. 20 minutes until someone taps you on the shoulder or calls your name across the office. These events kill productivity.

Most of these interruptions are experienced at a micro level. They’re experienced during a day. But I’ve found the same thing holds true on a macro level. If you stretch your time scale out to weeks or months, a day trip here or a couple days away there has the same effect: It kills productivity. A couple days away a week is like a few meetings a day — it makes it hard to get anything meaningful done. An interruption is an interruption.

This past Monday I gave my last talk (UIE Web App Masters in Philly) until mid September when I’m at the Business Innovation Factory 6 conference. I have a few more after that for the year, but then I’m done. I’m going to retire from travel-required conference speaking for a while. It feels great.

It’s only been three days since my last talk, but knowing I have a clear schedule for many months has shifted me into a pleasantly productive mindset. I’ve gotten a ton done so far this week. There have been some projects I’ve been meaning to start for a while, but with future travel hanging over my head I couldn’t get into a groove. I’m back in a groove.

It’s a good reminder of the power of an open schedule. Just knowing you have the time helps you make the time. Time to put it to good use.