And (gasp!) don’t believe in WIFI on planes. Said the person who runs her entire life online.
REALITY: LIFE IS CHAOS, SOMETIMES
Here is a snippet of how my afternoon went yesterday:
I spent 2 hours hours visiting one of our stores to both train them on a new system and pick up merchandise for our upcoming catalog. My drive back to the office aligned perfectly with my weekly conference call on digital ad spend – pure luck because I nearly forgot.
When I walked through the door I was received with a borage of questions coming at me from every direction. “Kristin, do you want this merchandise?,” “Where should we put this? We are out of room.” “I’ve been thinking we need to try this.”, “Which of these 3 bloggers do you want to work with next?” “Is this ad correct?” “Can you review this email?” “Can you approve this site banner”, “Customer A didn’t receive her package, but it shows delivered and she has never ordered from us before, should I do blank?” “Customer B is having a panic attack because we charged her tax. It’s escalated and you will have to call her back.” “Store 9 won’t do the express shipping we need them to do, can you talk to the manager?”
I am not listing above because I think I am special; it is just the demands I am most familiar with. Almost every person I know has these same demands regularly thrust upon them in this 24/7 world we live in.
Someone mentioned 9-5 work yesterday and I said, “What the heck is 9-5? I have never had a 9-5 job and I don’t know anyone who does.”
Even if your work isn’t pulling you in 30 different directions, maybe your family is. Between kids, extended familial needs, non-stop work schedules (I don’t care who you are and what you do, you check your email on your phone during non-work hours), demands on household upkeep, pets, side hustles, fitness and health, and the onslaught of never-ending information and technology changes, who can even breathe.
Exhausted yet? I am and I am not even done!
What about the desire to keep your social life and friendships alive, not to mention hobbies and supposed self-care; I can’t imagine there are many that are truly keeping it all together. If you are, please tell us the super secret sauce in the comments below.
I work full-time and I travel regularly. I like it that way. While my travel/work-life balance can occasionally overwhelm me (there is always more to do), it is the travel that keeps me sane.
So what does this have to do with this airplane mode and wifi on planes?
When I get on an airplane, it might be the only time I can think of in my daily life to where all of the chaos stops. Life slows down.
For so many people airports and air travel are equated with chaos, madness and stress. In fact, for many it is potentially the most stressful place they could go on the planet. But for someone like me, it isn’t until I step foot in an airport that I can finally see, think and hear my thoughts.
I regularly crave several hours on a plane to be disconnected. 18 hours of flying sounds insane to most and I don’t get to do it often, but sometimes I secretly look forward to that much time for me to just simply think, daydream and create.
This week was one of those weeks where I felt like shit was hitting the fan over and over again and I was lost in a pile a crap. I was getting stuff done, but it was a little mad. It is officially busy season and I could have stayed home this weekend and sat in my office, digging into and pouring over the 1000s of to-dos and to-want-to-dos, but I am not sure that more is always better.
Disconnect to Get Out From Under the Never-Ending List of To-dos
I often speak about the 10,000 foot view. This is a concept of trying to see things in your business and your life zoomed out.
It is stepping away from the details getting perspective on the bigger picture.
Often when you are present – and by present I mean working in the day-to-day – it is easy to get caught up in the minutia, the things that, sure, need to get done, but aren’t your most pressing action items.
When you step away and get some quiet and clarity, you can see what is truly the most important.
Disconnect to Connect With Your Creative Self
Don’t get me wrong, I thrive in the fast pace of the E-Commerce world, I love the speed of change, the innovation, and honestly the constant testing.
But as a creative I also need space for deep thought and creativity.
I have learned over years of travel that I will do my best thinking, creating, and writing on a plane (that’s where I am right now) or on a long car ride.
I think that is in part due to what Mark Manson coined Attention Pollution. In our “busy” world, we have so many thing vying for our attention that we no longer are able to connect with our deeper selves and create from an uninterrupted position.
In Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, discusses the idea that as attention spans dwindle that one of the secrets to success will be making space and time for deep concentration and creation. He even covers the story of Peter Shankman, who booked a round trip business class ticket to Toyko and wrote an entire book while he traveled there and back.
If it is good enough for Peter Shankman to do his deepest work on a plane, it certainly works for me!
Disconnect to Slow Down
I write in the space of travel and even more specifically this idea of conscious travel. While, conscious can of course touch on sustainability, it also means for me finding ways to be literally more conscious in life and in travel. To be present. To find deeper experiences. To slow down. But as you can guess this is as much a practice for me as for anyone else.
Being on a plane is one of the few times in life, where we can only be where we are.
Our phones aren’t ringing off the hook. That Google machine is unavailable to our every random thought. There are no podcast notifications, there aren’t hundreds emails to be read – they exist, but they are just not accessible for the flight. The to-do list seems so far and nonexistent. I can’t see those dirty dishes from where I am trying to work.
While you could walk up and down the aisle and visit the bathroom, you can’t go anywhere else.
For me this takes away that feeling of “maybe I should be doing this instead of that, I should play with my dog or kid, I should fold the laundry, I should finish that report.”
We don’t live in a world anymore that is unplugged.
I certainly do not.
My entire business, side project, hobbies, etc. revolve around my desktop, laptop and pocket computer, my iPhone. In one minute I can check sales, the next I can publish a blog post, say hey on Instagram and then respond to an angry customer all on my little phone. I’m not sure why we even call it a phone anymore. 1% of my activity on the iPhone includes actually speaking to someone on the phone. But I embrace it. I think most days that it is fun.
But I also recognize the peace that comes with turning off and powering down.
Airplane mode allows me to reach a full state of calm and consciousness. It is the only time in my life where it is just me, a book, maybe some music and my laptop or a journal for writing (I still love to write by hand). Also, occasionally a crying baby or a chatty neighbor, but that is what noise-cancelling headphones are for.
Let me know in the comments below: How do you disconnect? What helps you get in touch with your deepest thoughts? Where do you do your best creating and thinking?
Written from Seat 20F on AA3680