In today’s hyper-connected world we can feel obliged to respond to every email, message or notification in real time. But sometimes taking a step back is actually positive for productivity. While some jobs simply can’t be done while ‘disconnected’, many can actually benefit from offline periods.
I take a lot of flights: while I live and work in Spain, my partner and family are based in the UK. I’m lucky that my company supports remote working and gives me flexibility to travel back and forth frequently. I now look forward to my hours of ‘offline working’ from the sky. I am able to focus on one task at a time, without any pings or dings or the sense of guilt that can come from muting those notifications.
Next time you fly, even if there’s Wi-Fi available, resist the temptation and follow these tips to make the most out of your flight hours.
Before you fly make sure you have offline access to all the documents and resources you’ll need. Download email attachments and enable ‘offline editing’ on platforms like Google Drive. Charge your laptop fully and consider bringing extra battery packs. Even if you know you have a seat with a plug.
Some projects lend themselves more to plane working than others. Select tasks that you are able to complete (or make significant headway on) by yourself. Additionally, pick tasks that don’t need a lot of desk space, or fine motor control.
Find privacy for you…
Wear good headphones to drown out your seatmates, that baby three rows back and the noise of the plane. If you don’t like listening to music as you work, search for white-noise apps to stop announcements from breaking your concentration. If you can, choose your seat beforehand and pick a window seat for minimum disruption and maximum privacy.
… and privacy for your work
On a plane the people next to you will usually be sitting a lot closer than your colleagues do. Whilst the spotlight effect tells us that we overestimate how much people pay attention to what we’re doing, it’s still important to consider confidentiality. Place a privacy filters over your laptop screen to reduce the viewing angle and be confident that neither your client data nor your ground-breaking screenplay is being spied on.
Have a backup plan
Flights are subject to weather conditions and unexpected events. You might be asked to put away your table or store your laptop and therefore lose your ability to do work. As always, it pays to have a backup plan, just in case your inflight working experience isn’t all “plane” sailing…