When do you come up with your best business ideas? Chris Gamm explains how having some downtime can be more productive and a business benefit.

I get my mine on my daily 25-minute cycle between Paddington and RN’s office in Angel. My mind is clear and it’s time built into my day to think creatively about a particular challenge or issue. It’s when I had the idea for this column.

Before Christmas, I spent a day visiting three Londis stores owned by Steve Bassett and working in the Weymouth shop run by Dave Hiscutt. One thing I learnt was how Dave once made great use of being out of the business for six weeks with a badly broken leg. He used the time to think about two challenges and how to overcome them.

Dave’s six weeks away from the shop were so productive that he joked he should break his leg every year

Firstly, he found that several tasks were being repeated across the three stores. Dave used his recovery time to teach himself to code so he could synchronise each stores’ back office systems, resulting in better efficiency and less margin for error.

Secondly, Dave had a Tesco Clubcard but never claimed the points. He wanted instant rewards for his loyalty and suspected his customers did too. So he created a ‘half price coffee’ key fob, gave out 5,000 to local businesses and now sells 60 cups a day.

Similarly, he used a three-hour drive to the IAA gala dinner with Steve to plan their strategy for adding hot meals to their successful food to go counter.

Dave’s six weeks away from the shop were so productive that he joked he should break his leg every year. The serious point, though, is it highlights the importance of planning in time to work on your business and protecting this from the day-to-day tasks. It can often be found in unusual places and prove to be the most effective part of your day.