I had to travel between London and Yorkshire today. Not a particularly pleasant prospect, mainly because it'll be hugely inconvenient, and when I've finished my round trip I'll be a sleepwalking zombiefied wreck. And it's not even Friday. It all starts when I get up at around 0430, and I won't be home again until well after 2000. I'm too old for all this.
Last time I did this journey, I sat on the train, laptop on the table and Blackberry to hand, poised to spend the otherwise dead time usefully. High ideals. But perhaps it's just me. I accomplished next to nothing. All sorts of distractions present themselves; there's coffees from the buffet car and trolley, snow out of the window, my colleague chit-chatting. Sleep, of course.
Other people around me, similarly on their way to discuss their real concerns about the shocking rise in the price of raw industrial polymers (or whatever the hell it is these people all do) seem able to focus. I watched a woman work her way through hundreds of emails on a trip not too long ago. But not me. I just never seem to be able to knuckle down and get on with it.
Mulling this, I took another sip of coffee and sought the opinion of my colleague and travelling companion. Like me, she'd had lofty plans to see off an email deluge, and was sitting there identically with laptop and Blackberry at the ready. Equally, like me, she had accomplished zero output of any kind. So was it just us two then?
Well, I don't know but I'm guessing not. I reckon there's something intangibly distracting about business travel that prevents anyone but the most hardcore lappy-tapper from getting anything useful done. This realisation has had a profoundly refreshing effect on me. Now, knowing that I am not going to bother to try to work, my guilt has slipped away and been replaced by an hour or two of reclaimed sleep. Result? I don't yawn quite so much in my boss's meetings. That has to be a good thing, right?