The sun was setting over the motorway south of Stuttgart; I was powering north toward a 10 pm flight out of Frankfurt HHN. Wednesday evening: a day trip to consult for friends in Rottweil, a quick thousand euro into Stone Bridge.
I don’t mind the time on the highway, a chance to disconnect and follow a few thoughts after a day of engagement with the Germans, Dutch and Americans.
Arriving through Frankfurt, I smiled at how the German customs agents glanced and stamped, a couple of quick questions; how the German auto rental and hotel clerks glanced and stamped, a couple of quick questions. Through the airport in ten minutes, into a hotel room in five. Different from the snaking queues and indifferent service elsewhere. ‘nice to just ‘get on with it’ passing through the gatekeepers.
But the motorway is dotted with construction zones, narrow and filled with lurching trucks. Family vans and black station wagons drill up my tail incessantly, forcing frequent lane changes. This is the flip side of fat efficiency: when I’m the one who is in the way, the populace just flows over and past me. ‘just getting on with it.
I was reading an article from the Modesto Bee this morning, about how to deal with overextended work lives. Business owners, busy enough during the normal course of their work, can become overextended by simultaneous, competing demands and end up feeling out of control: “snapping with people at home, being a little more impatient or not getting things done there you normally do.” Solutions? Business school professor Robert Preziosi recommends
Keep working while restoring your energy using a “pull-back” method. When you’re feeling absolutely overwhelmed, identify the three most important actions my business needs me to take right now. Then follow through and bring tasks to a firm and timely conclusion.
Top four things? Sorting out lab results in Brighton, writing this trip report, preparing a talk that I have to present next week, preparing for meetings in the US afterwards. ‘and VAT reporting, ta submission, pay the rent, and do daily Dutch lessons and exercise.
Still too many. The obvious solutions are to cut back, delegate, delay, don’t add anything else until these are done. We’re hiring help and I’m not adding to the list: there’s daily Dutch practice with workbooks. At least I’m largely staying within the top eight.
Yet, I concede, here I am driving up a motorway in Germany for my friends and 1000 euros.
Another construction zone: I get shunted left, my exit whizzes by on the other side of the barriers, right. TomTom squawks and adds 15 minutes to my travel time. I sigh.
Clearly further reforms are still needed.