I travel a lot. To the airport, at the airport, on the flight, from the airport, I allow time to pass and don’t allow it to frustrate me or unnerve me.

I occasionally do some of my best thinking on the plane and occasionally my best work. On other occasions, I sit with the intention of not thinking about anything at all.

I spend a lot of time in lifts, lobbies and hotel rooms, up and down, up and down.

I also spend a lot of time sitting in hearings listening to the other experts. A lot of time is spent sitting alone in a breakout room waiting to be called to testify.

I recently attended a two week arbitration in a rather poorly lit hearing room with poor natural light and ventilation. It was important for me to attend all of the hearing given the specific detail of the monetary issues.

My hotel, whilst close-by, was ok but it became inconducive to my lifestyle. Sometimes it’s easy to order in and continue with the workload, but not every night.

So halfway through I moved to an Airbnb not far from the beach, knowing this would be better during my testifying period.

Each night when I arrived home from the hearing, I would take time out to walk down to the beach and sit and watch the surf on the shore. I would have a cool drink (as they say in SA) read my book, before heading back with some fresh food to eat whilst I continued my preparation and work. My routine improved and I felt much more refreshed.

On the fourth evening of my beach down time, I sat and enjoyed an ice lolly (as we say in Manchester) when I looked up and caught the eye of a familiar looking face in his swim shorts carrying a surfboard. At first I couldn’t figure out who it was but when the words ‘good evening Mr James’ were spoken, I realised it was the opposing counsel who was cross examining me. I replied with an ‘evening counsel’ and continued with my ice lolly.

Downtime and time out is important for us all and politeness costs nothing. Counsel and I were back to work the next day but we had both deservedly taken time out.