How To Conjure That Elusive Flow State
I’m writing this from 30,000 feet. Why? Because I’ve found that, for me, there’s no place better to write than the seat of an airplane.
Seriously, when I’m in that tight, uncomfortable chair, with nothing else to do, no wifi, no nothing, I write more prolifically than any place else on earth.
I took a flight from San Francisco to Cabo this summer. It was only 2.5 hours, and I cranked out 4 entire blog posts.
It’s like magic. It works every time.
Now, why is the airplane such a productive place for me to write? I think it comes down to this:
- No internet (yes, I know I could buy wifi, but I’m frugal, and I don’t need it when I have Google Drive’s offline doc capabilities. ( Here are instructions for turning it on before you go.) The impulse to go check my email mid-sentence? It stops because my brain knows it won’t be fulfilled.
- No cell service. No Facebook. No Instagram. No TikTok. No news. No endless scroll.
- No other distractions. No linen closet to organize. No fridge to peruse. No laundry to put away. It’s just me and my laptop.
- The loud-as-hell white noise of the engine. Have you ever noticed that if you’re listening to headphones on an airplane you have to jack them up so loud just to hear over the din of the engines? That sweet, sweet white noise helps with focus.
- There’s a deadline. That flight will be landing…sooner than I think.
Now, as much as I’d like to travel constantly (seriously, traveling is one of my very favorite activities), I can’t. It’s expensive. It’s bad for the environment. And I’ve got responsibilities (aka kids) and a budget that keep me home most of the time.
So, I got to thinking: How can I recreate this magical, uber-productive, airplane situation when I’m not, in fact, on an airplane?
And here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Turn off wifi on my computer
- Leave my phone in another room
- Find a smallish work zone to park my butt (for me, it’s one specific seat on my couch)
- Put on noise cancelling headphones, or listen to pink/brown noise (i.e. white noise with the high frequencies removed)
- Set a time limit. (Flights have duration. And therefore so will my work block.)
I’ve since tried this several times and, OMG, it works!
Now, writing might not be your thing, but I’m sure you have other things that require your focus. So try this:
- Close your eyes and think about the most productive, flow-inducing, work environment you’ve ever be in.
- Write down the elements of that environment.
- Now, see if you can’t recreate that situation at home or at work.
Try it and let me know what you come up with!
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Originally published at https://www.alexishaselberger.com on October 17, 2022.