I am writing this blog post whilst I am travelling from Amsterdam to Minneapolis. That means that I will be offline for about 8 hours. 8 hours of uninterrupted bliss. As you might know from our Time Management Training – time management doesn’t really exist, we need to talk about attention management instead. And what better place to focus than an airplane where nobody can reach you?
I planned beforehand what I want to get done during the flight. When I travel I only have my iPhone 8 Plus with me, I noticed that I can do almost everything on that, so there is no reason to drag a laptop along. The combination of only having my iPhone with me and being offline means that there is a big chance that I can really focus on several tasks. As I am typing this, I have been underway for approximately 3 hours and from the things that I wanted to do during this flight I finished 6 so far. Today I am on a daytime flight and these types of flights are productive flights for me. On the way back I prefer a night time flight and then I sleep during most of the flight.
Since I only have one screen to focus on (my phone), I can focus all my attention on just one thing and I can’t be easily distracted by other programs. With a computer I can do that as well, but there is a higher risk of distractions. Being offline also helps you to be more focused, since you can’t receive emails, messages or notifications. Of course, you don’t have to be on a plane to benefit from offline time. We encourage people to move to different areas in the office or even go to a coffee shop and disable their WiFi to get that much needed offline time.
Here are 5 things you can easily get done without access to the internet – whether you’re travelling or you choose to go “dark”.
During my preparations I put some PDF files together of documents that I wanted to review. I use Evernote and on the iPhone I can easily make annotations in those documents when I have remarks. In the beginning you might have to get used to doing things like this but it is a very fast and easy way to review and comment on documents once you get the hang of it. Once I have reviewed the documents I can immediately forward them. Even though I am offline, I can still prepare the emails and once I am back online those emails will be sent.
Read more about building your Review Habit.
2. Going Through My Weekly Checklist
This is my favorite task. I find time to go through my checklist every week, but when I am offline, I get to spend more time on it. It really helps me to think about the bigger picture. During those moments I often get the chance to clean up my lists a bit more as well.
I usually can’t write long pieces of text in a space deprived Economy seat but short pieces like blog posts or the processing of notes go well. I also have a fold-able Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone and that way typing becomes almost as easy as when I am behind my desk.
Productivity Ninja Top Tip: If you need to get lots of writing done and need internet access for research, switch your email to “working offline” and turn your phone on “airplane mode”.
On my iPhone I use the Kindle app a lot and that way I can take almost my whole ebook collection with me. What really works well for me is that I can read several books very quickly during the trip. I learned how to speed read and some books can be scanned quickly so relevant information can be obtained and read.
Thinking about things is something that sometimes escapes me since there are other things that I could do. Since you are sat in a row, with not a lot of room to move around, you are in a good environment to think about certain projects or problems. I like to do that in a brainstorming manner, by making a mind map for certain projects or problems. That way I can also straighten out my thoughts.
The good thing about these 5 tasks is that you can alternate them so you don’t get bored easily. Also, don’t forget to take plenty of breaks in between your focused work.
By Fokke Kooistra
Fokke is Think Productive Western Europe‘s director.