As I write this, I’m sitting in seat 28E on a US Airways flight. Many of my fellow passengers are connected to the GoGo wi-fi, which runs $4.95 for the leg, but I’m just using Microsoft Word.
When I first bought a laptop I envisioned the freedom of working from anywhere, including 30,000 feet above the ground. I had three spare batteries, and fantasized about all the work I could get done on 3- to 5-hour flights. And yet…how many times the past ten years have I even bothered booting up while flying? About a dozen. And mostly, it was to play whatever Netflix DVD I had to fall asleep to. In fact, today is only the second time I’ve done anything productive whilst flying the friendly skies.
So many of us are constantly on-the-go. We’re checking email while in line at the grocery store, responding to text messages in doctor’s offices and surfing the web until we absolutely must get dressed for a night out. My husband knows my intentions are good, but he’s right – I often totally underestimate the amount of time it’s going to take to get ready, and rarely leave room for last minute emergencies (like forgetting to print out theatre tickets).
Stephanie Calahan has some great tips on keeping ourselves in check, a major one being not to review email the second you roll out of bed or get into the office. I tried this and realized that it doesn’t really delay things. Besides, my clients know several ways to reach me should they need immediate attention. And, even then, they’d prefer I’ve already had my first cup of coffee.
Last week, Chris Brogan tweeted during a doctor’s visit. It was a humorous diatribe of puns and one-liners. It was his way of combatting boredom, and who can blame him?
My question, though, is at what point do we shut down the gadgets, close laptop lids and simply… relax? I’m not talking about going to the movies or taking the kids to a water park. I’m not talking about forgoing household chores and opting to watch reruns of Dr. Who (or, in my case, The Closer). I’m talking about sitting back, closing our eyes, and thinking of pretty much nothing. Unless it’s a really bumpy ride, I find it quite easy to rest on a plane. I often drift off to sleep (and have been woken by a flight attendant on more than one occasion). If you’re not a plane-rester, there’s always reading. Heck, if you don’t want to “think”, browse the Sky Mall magazine. Believe me, there’s some humor in there.
If you must boot your laptop while traveling, use it for something you enjoy. For me, writing for pleasure is a great way to relax and pass the time. And if you get lucky – as I did today – you’ll have open seats on either side of you. It makes for easy access to the tomato juice (on my left) and less-messy snacking on a bagel (on my right).
My point is, if you’re checking the computer the minute you get up or hit the office, making calls and sending texts the rest of the time, when are you recharging yourself? Life is busy, and it’s hard to find opportunities to unwind. Why not use your time on a plane to do just that? You’ll be able to hit the ground running as soon as you hear that final ding.
Of course, I should be willing to follow my own advice. So I’m hitting save, shutting this baby down and getting some much-needed rest. Hopefully I’ll drift off for a while and wake up when the wheels touch down.