For almost a year the car has been sat on the drive, pretty much permanently. Driving has been limited to weekly supermarket trips and not much else during lockdown. Outside of lockdown, as a family, we have ventured a bit further but I can count on one hand the number of times I have used the car for work.
This is good! The positive environmental impact of this is huge and the last twelve months has certainly proved that we don’t always need to travel. However, I am really missing the thinking time that driving provides.
These days we pack zoom calls into the diary. We finish one, logout and, within minutes, we’re in the next one. It’s exhausting and it’s hard to keep up. It should save time but there doesn’t seem to be any more time in the day. It’s got me thinking about the importance of time to debrief and process my thoughts.
Back in what I am increasingly thinking of BC (before covid), I would travel all over the county and beyond to visit projects and attend meetings. Several times a week I would spend 30 minutes or more in the car, to and from a meeting, sometimes up to two hours. With many locations not accessible by public transport, my car was essential. While I was driving, I would mentally prepare or process my thoughts: thinking through what I wanted to say, what had been said, what I needed to do next.
This thinking time is lost now and I need to somehow replace that opportunity to process and reflect. I am in no rush to get back in the car but I would like to build some metaphorical ‘travel time’ back into my working day.
The answer probably lies in walking. I have certainly found walking useful during the homeschooling days: an opportunity to drag my teenage son away from his screen and into the fresh air. Walking and talking with him has been a really valuable experience over the last twelve months. However, the opportunity that I am seeking now is a bit different. I’m not looking for an escape or ‘switch off’; I am missing the in-between times within the working day that are, apparently, more valuable than I ever realised (you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone!). Could walking still be the answer?
A few years ago, I promoted the value of walking as part of my evaluation of the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership. I wrote here about the need to “legitimise the office ‘jolly’ and give these walks a purpose.” I think it’s time for me to revisit this, take my own advice and build a new commute into my day.