Air travel is a tech sanctuary

Air travel is a sanctuary.

Because we’re so connected in every aspect of our lives, air travel is perhaps one of the very last instances where we are forced to unplug.

It’s strange. And even though the air travel industry is adopting in-flight WiFi, the majority of flights still don’t have access to that technology. If you’re heading on a flight for more than 12 hours, chances are you’re probably not going to access the internet unless you pay an expensive fee.

I’m getting on a 17-hour flight on Saturday. For someone who is as connected to the internet – constantly – as I am, the prospect of not checking my usual websites and social networks is a little unsettling.

But here’s a funny thing – the more you talk to seasoned business travellers, they often say these flights are a good thing. They get to sit, undistracted, and use that time in order to finish some work or attempt to demolish a huge pile of books.

Speaking with fellow journalists, I’ve heard of entire feature stories being written by the time they step onto their destination.

This isn’t a new concept, or anything novel. Technology is as much of a distraction as it is an aid. But for some tech-savvy entrepreneurs, they tend to equate new technology with productivity. That’s a mistake.

It’s an easy one to make, though. So much technology is built on the idea of convenience. Dropbox – access files from any device. iTunes Match – download all of your music no matter where you are. Office 365 – don’t have Office on your computer? No problem.

Unfortunately, though, the two extremes of this issue are just as bad as each other.

Sure, technology can be a productivity drain, which is why a lot of workplaces tend to ban social networking access. But if you’re getting rid of technology altogether, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. After all, writing those reports on a plane is going to require a laptop.

But there’s no question getting rid of technology can result in some big productivity gains. Paul Miller recently wrote on The Verge about giving up the internet for a year. The results are pretty clear:

“With no clear idea how I did it, I wrote half my novel, and turned in an essay nearly every week to The Verge. In one of the early months my boss expressed slight frustration at how much I was writing, which has never happened before and never happened since.”

There’s a long weekend coming up. Why don’t you take one day and unplug?

You may be surprised at what you accomplish.


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