It seems like the last thing in the world that you want to do if you are trying to be more productive is head out for a backpacking trip. It just seems so counter-intuitive – why do you put aside your work and all your responsibilities to go out and just sit in a forest and fill up your shoes with rocks? What is the point in that? It is not getting anything done. Nevertheless, backpacking might be the key to increasing your productivity at home and work.
Reset your internal clock
There are about a billion YouTube videos claiming that waking up at 5 AM will change your life. And it is true. Waking up early will make you more productive, more focused, healthy. But that is not the full story. The real secret to success and to productivity isn’t waking at 5 AM part, but getting to bed at 9 PM part. Waking up early is not going to make you automatically successful. You have got to get a full amount of sleep. And backpacking gives you the perfect opportunity to reset your internal clock. Quite frequently on backpacking trips when it starts to get dark and everybody goes on their hammocks or tents, someone checks their watch and finds out that it is just 8 PM. Since there is nothing else to do, going to bed even if it is early, becomes natural. You don’t have all those distractions around you. And of course, this means that you will most probably wake up also early. Therefore going on backpacking is a great opportunity to get to start that new habit and increase your productivity.
Increased capacity for doing hard things
We don’t go backpacking every day because that would be hard. So you know, backpacking is a hard thing and by doing it by pushing forward even when it is difficult, you are increasing your capacity to do hard things in all areas of your life. Life skills are tended to transfer to each other. We do something hard in one area and it increases your capacity to do something hard in other areas.
Impact of prioritization
Going on a backpacking trip means that you are going to only be able to take a certain number of things or what can just fit into your pack. It means that you need to rethink everything. For sure, this might be hard to do before leaving, but quite often you start questioning your packing priorities on the trip. Which is when you need to make notes about what you should have brought, what you wish hadn’t brought, do you really need this, do you even use it, should you have left it at home or what would happen if you left it at home next time. Building the skill of forecasting or prioritizing is a transferable skill that can help you with productivity.
Growth of your margin
Margin is a productivity principle that means you build-in extra capacity into your life or your schedule, your personal space. So that you have the capacity to give, to help another traveler, to carry an extra load, to respond to an emergency or to share. Growing your margin is a really simple principle to understand, but it is really difficult to implement because when we have extra space around us, let’s say physically in our homes, our first instinct is to fill that space with stuff. And when we have the backpack, our first instinct is to fill up every single pocket. If you have 65 liters pack – “let’s put 65 liters with stuff inside”. But growing your margin means that you have a little bit of extra space and not just physically, but emotionally. And maybe this principle goes along with prioritizing, but it is a little bit different because you actually cutting things out with a specific purpose of having that extra empty space available just in case. If you can apply the principle of margin to your backpacking trip, it will transfer beautifully to increasing productivity in all other aspects of your life.
You come home changed
This means taking a break from your everyday activities to do something that will recharge you. It is an ancient concept. Think of the Sabbath day, when there is one day in the period when you set aside all your daily labor, concerns and focus on one thing – rest. And that rest could be backpacking trip when you are surrounded by the new environment and have a lot of kind impressions. You just don’t have time to think about daily business at home. Taking a rest may be just what you need to reset your brain and approach your daily things with fresh eyes and with new ideas.