5 Key Time Management Lessons Learnt Through Travelling
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes
At the start of 2023, I achieved one of my bucket list dreams! I took a 2 and a half-month sabbatical with a friend to South America! We landed in Mendoza, Argentina, enjoyed the wine tasting and flew to Buenos Aires.
We flew to see the Iguazu Falls, and even took a quick morning trip to Paraguay when we realised how close we were! I got roped into hiking through Patagonia and tricked into some camping. (FYI I am not a camping gal), and even got within touching distance from the most incredible glaciers!
We explored the amazing wild-life of the Galápagos Islands, as well as the stunning scenery of the Atacama Desert in Chile. We followed that by having a blast and reliving our youth in a road trip across the coastal towns from Quito in Ecuador through to the beach towns into Peru, with a homestay in the Amazon rainforest.
We had an epic experience in Lake Titicaca in Peru, and finally we trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the modern World.
It is fair to say, it was the BEST experience!
But, it wasn’t all plain sailing.
For example – We got caught up in an earthquake & landside in Ecuador that blocked our road so we had to travel through the narrow roads through the countryside. We had to reroute several times when flights were cancelled, and I won’t lie when I say I shouted a few swear words when our train to Cusco from Lake Titicaca was cancelled. My poor friend even was robbed and we lost a few things along the way.
But a mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
Taking my sabbatical taught me so much, and even some valuable time management lessons. Yes even as someone who specialises in time management, I am always being reminded of these! I had to learn to change my style too, going from being a serial planner to just letting go and going with the flow, as I wasn’t the one who had booked the trip and we had three big trips with a fab company called G Adventures who took the reins on the travel. Absolutely amazing but the control freak in me needed to let go and lean into being on a timetable that wasn’t my own!
In this blog, I will guide you through 5-key time management lessons that you need to adopt! I was reminded of these when taking my sabbatical in South America, but they don’t just apply to travelling! So take on these valuable lessons to learn how to maximise your time and energy!
You can also watch the full video here.
I took a mini-sabbatical from working whilst travelling around South America, but I had been mixing a little work into my travels. It wasn’t a lot at all, which meant I had to be super intentional with my time when I was working.
You need to be intentional and have focus if you want to maximise your time – that is how to get the most from your precious minutes, working or not! One of the best ways to do this is to know what “mode” you are in. i.e. when you are working, you work (not scroll social media or try to multi-task.)
I set designated times for work, productivity and focus, and then other times to just be, go with the flow and enjoy the world passing by. Intention matters!
(PS: This is one of the element of the “Triangle of Time Management” that I teach in my online Time Management Self-Study Course “Transform your Time”.)
“50% of something is better than 100% of nothing”
– Alice Dartnell
My motto is “50% of something is better than 100% of nothing”. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up my usual healthy eating and exercise schedule whilst in South America. The itinerary was intense, and we were only ever in a place for 12 – 72 hours max! But I did what I can!
Like doing a quick ten-minute sit up session in the hotel room before a long bus journey sitting on my arse, or ordering a side salad along with the carb heavy dinners out. They do love a big portion and double-carb in South America!
Remember – Just a little is ok! A positive attitude of “I will do just a little” – knowing that is all adds up – is better than the all-or-nothing “F*** it” attitude and giving up completely when it come to using your time for the things you want or need to do.
Ever had the experience of falling out of a routine and struggled to get back into it? This is exactly why I don’t advocate relying on routine for your time management success. I know that a lot of people claim this is the way to improve your time management, and in an ideal world, yes. But we don’t live in a simple world where everything goes smoothly or to plan!
Instead have your ‘non-negotiables’ and things you want to do regularly (for example, for me, meditation is a mental health must even when on holiday or travelling) and be flexible when you fit it in rather than only sticking to a routine of a set time.
Sometimes when I was on my sabbatical, I meditated in the morning in bed (like I would at home) and other times on a bus when traveling between cities.
(PS: There is a whole module in the online Time Management Self-Study Course “Transform your Time” on this topic!)
You don’t have to everything to achieve what you want and to have an amazing experience you know!
When I was younger, I used to max the sh*t out of holidays. Late nights, early starts, seeing everything there is to see because I had “come all this way” (even if it was of no real interest to me!) However, since my burn out in 2019 and travelling more, I have realised… you don’t have to do everything that is on offer if you don’t want to. Just because there is a sight to be seen, doesn’t mean you have to go.
I still had an epic experience and adventure in South America despite there still being lots of stuff I didn’t get to see or do. This is the same in life too. You don’t always have to do everything to get max value!
There is no point doing something for the sake of it! Or worse still, making yourself ill because you have tried to do everything. (This is a great point to remind you that time management is not just about time but your energy too, and that people pleasing too isn’t conducive to your time management!)
Some days I also needed some quiet Alice time, so skipped the big group meals for example but I didn’t get the FOMO (fear of missing out)!
We often blame the distraction for being distracted but here is a little truth bomb… you are saying ‘yes’ to the distraction and the best thing is to remove yourself!
Whatever you are doing, get the most bang from your buck with your time by being focused (see point one on being intentional and knowing your mode). When that phone rings, it is only a distraction if you answer it. Your co-worker is only the problem if you let them interrupt your flow and distract you. The sea-lion plodding about in the Galapagos Islands was there before I pitched up with my laptop to do a spot of work so I can’t blame them if I got distracted by their cuteness!
Avoid distractions by removing yourself from them and don’t answer to them!
(PS: Do you struggle with distractions? There is a whole module in the online Time Management Self-Study Course “Transform your Time” on this topic)
OK, maybe bit of a joke one in honour of the night I accidentally stayed out to 4am drinking wine. (Damn all that good Argentinian wine!) Unfortunately, at 6am I had a loooong bus journey to Chile which I had intended to use to do some work.
You’d be right to assume that was NOT as productive as scheduled. But jokes aside, how you fuel yourself (eat, sleep and move, or how much vino you drink) does have a huge impact in your productivity, thinking and focus.
Time is to be used wisely but this doesn’t mean you have to be productive 24/7. The old Alice felt like she wasn’t using time in a productive way then I was wasting it – cue me multi-tasking (which we know doesn’t work!), always rushing about, and constantly being in a state of guilt.
Use your time in the best way – it is the most precious resource and once it is gone, that is it!!! But remember, time is also there for being in the moment, enjoying new things, having epic experiences, making memories etc – this is just as important as hustling and working hard!
Get in touch – I would love to know what is resonating with you or if you have any travel inspired questions! (Instagram DM me)
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– Alice Dartnell
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This article is written by Alice Dartnell, life and success coach of Alice Dartnell Limited. Alice empowers busy professionals to be successful, transform their lives and achieve more by improving their confidence, mindset and time management.
For more information please see www.alicedartnell.com
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