Put yourself in airplane mode

One of the things I love about traveling is the amount of work, and thinking, that happens on an airplane. There’s something about being in the confined space of an airplane cabin that inspires me. Even though there is a constant hum of passenger noise, the focused energy that ensues is remarkable. I simply put in my ear buds and I’m off and running. I may finish a book and make some notes about things I learned that need to be incorporated into a project I’m working on, finish a couple of blog articles, or simply spend some time in thought about what might be next from a business standpoint.

So here’s the question. Why don’t we make a regular practice of this? Unless you have a job that requires to you travel all the time, you might not have these opportunities to actually sit on the plane and get work done. That shouldn’t stop you from practicing some of the same principles. It’s easier than you think to find this productive time on the ground. Here’s an easy way to start.

1. Find your cabin – It can be anywhere that is not your normal work place. Get out of the office. For me it’s most often the coffee shop. I also like the local college library that is a few blocks from my office. There I can find a study carrel tucked in among the stacks and set up shop.

2. Put yourself in airplane mode – A critical part of being super productive during this time is to eliminate distractions. Put your phone in airplane mode or turn it off completely. I put mine in airplane mode because there’s a feature I need (I’ll explain later). Disconnect from the wifi so you won’t be tempted to check the email you just received, or sneak a peak at Facebook to see what your friends are up to.

3. Decide the length of your flight – Most of the flights I take are in the 1 to 3 hour range. To replicate those productive airplane sessions, I set a timer for a time period that amount of time. This is the only thing I use my phone for. Setting a prescribed time does two things for you. It helps you stay focused because you know you only have a small window of time to get something accomplished. Secondly, it helps you to not get burned out on the activity. If it is enjoyable and you get stuff done, you are more apt to repeat the process.

4. Choose your destination – have a specific goal for each of these “flights”. Plan the work or thinking so that at the end you can feel like you have accomplished something when you finish.

I find these times in airplane mode to be extremely satisfying. When my alarm goes off and it’s time to go back to the office, I feel refreshed. Even if I’ve been cranking away at the keyboard, it strangely never feels like work. Give it a try. Let me know where you find your airplane time and what tactics you use to eliminate distractions and get more accomplished.

Sign up for Tim’s newsletter. This post was first published on the OnTargetTalent blog.

Tim Sieck

Tim Sieck is a principal partner with On Target Talent. On Target Talent uses a consultative, and perhaps slightly unconventional approach, in assisting and guiding companies to organizational success. Tim consults with company leaders and managers to develop and train key talent. In addition, Tim is an adjunct faculty member at Upper Iowa University. To connect with Tim, follow @tsieck on Twitter.

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