I do not particularly like flying. (Does anyone who’s not actually flying the plane?) You’re sitting in a seat for many hours, in dry air, timing visits to a tiny bathroom for the time when the plane isn’t bouncing over the airborne equivalent of pot holes.
But here is one upside of plane travel: it can be a really, really good time for getting stuff done.
Most of us don’t spend a whole lot of time disconnected from email, texts, etc. these days. You can pay for internet access on a plane but it requires an extra step. So it’s often easier to just put it off until landing. Which means that after hitting 10,000 feet, you can take out your laptop and just dive into something for hours, pretty much uninterrupted. You don’t need to be watching the clock to see when you should stop to go to the next thing. There is no next thing, except landing. Which will be obvious when it happens!
I sometimes have trouble motivating myself to work on planes, but this past Wednesday-Thursday was different. I had hoped to read through my entire manuscript of Off the Clock last weekend. My husband was going to take three of the kids to Boo at the Zoo at the Bronx Zoo (while I took care of the 8-year-old, who had a party he wanted to go to, but he’s pretty self-sufficient). But then it was rainy, so they didn’t go. Instead of getting the whole day to work while the 8-year-old played video games or was at his party, I got a grand total of one hour in the car during the 8-year-old’s party before the rest of my family pulled into the parking spot next to me because they wanted to go play at the arcade too.
Ah, the wages of expectation. One hour to work on the weekend isn’t bad, but when I thought I’d get 8 hours…
Anyway, my flights to and from Austin presented an alternative. I delved into the manuscript and just read and read. I stopped when the flight attendant told me to put away my computer. No setting alarms or figuring out when I needed to be ready for a phone call. I was off the clock.
As I’ve studied the schedules of productive people, I’ve found that airplane time is — more often than one might think — their secret weapon. One gentleman I profile in Off the Clock travels internationally all the time. He uses those 14-hour flights to Asia to do any focused work. Then, when he’s in the office, he’s perfectly fine with people stopping by to chat. He can devote his attention to those chats without worrying about when he can get back to the focused stuff because he’s already done the focused stuff on planes. That makes work much more pleasant. Sure, it requires giving up watching bad movies or paying for internet access and then reading NYDailyNews.com, but as sacrifices go, that’s not a bad one.
What do you do on planes? When I’m not working, I tend to read. I almost never watch movies or shows — because I don’t really do these things on the ground either.
In other news: I’ll be doing a FB Live chat around noon, ET, today to discuss how to tackle a big project in November (the subject of this month’s newsletter). Facebook.com/lauravanderkamauthor
Photo: Fall flowers. I don’t really have any photos of planes.