Working on the road these last few weeks has reminded me of many things I already knew. Picnic lunches on remote beaches are far more exciting if I remember to buy the canned tuna with the ring top lid. Packing more than five days worth of clean underwear for a 24-day trip saves significant hassle. And last but not least, when it comes to working smarter from the road: less is more.
Less is more: surely one of the best lessons in the world of self-employment.
Do I really need to do everything now, while I’m away? Answer everyone? Solve everything? Probably not. In fact, for me a stint away from my daily office becomes a practice of stripping tasks back so that I’m doing fewer things, well.
I came on this particular trip knowing I’d be working around a long “to do” list of past, present and future work commitments. Travel stories I’d successfully pitched and now needed to research, write and file from the road. New stories I wanted to scope out enroute to pitch on my return. Ongoing commitments to my mentees and my students at the Australian Writers’ Centre. Deadlines for my weekly SMH and The Age stories.
The solution? Before I left home, any tasked I deemed essential to progress while I was away was listed on an A4 sheet. In large print, and in thick black marker, I wrote a bunch of headings listing out those tasks, with dates next to them. I promised myself that anything not on this list could safely be shelved until my return.
Every few days, when I’ve been so absorbed in what’s been happening on the road I’ve had a mini panic that I may have dropped the ball on the big picture, I’ve rummaged through my bags and found that list. A quick glance is enough to reassure me: “Yep, it’s all in hand.” (Or if it’s not, this quick snapshot reminds me of what needs my attention, pronto.)
I know there are plenty of things not on that list. But I also know if they’re not on it, it’s for a good reason. It means the task in question isn’t a priority, because for now, from the road, less is more.
For this week’s comments section – how about you? Any times when less is more in your business? What techniques do you use when you know that not everything is able to get done?