We normally take 1-2 long plane rides a year, and I actually look forward to them. I’ll have my trusty Turtle neck pillow, eye mask, headphones charger, kindle, laptop, and of course phone. I’ll even often bring a hardcopy of a book that’s been gathering dust on my bookshelf.
Why do all this?
Because the time spent on an airplane feels magical. I know what you’re thinking. No, I don’t travel first-class or even business. I’m always in economy seats. Those hours are magical because I’m in a productivity flow state. I get more done in a few hours than the rest of the week, if not month.
That comes down to one reason: no distractions. No text messages, news alerts, no emails. And importantly, no internet. Yes, I know that planes have the internet these days. But if I had gotten it my productivity would plummet. I would check Reddit or Facebook and lose myself down a rabbit hole of unproductivity.
Instead, I’m able to do some light reading, listen to a few podcasts, even watch an episode or two of a show I’ve been putting off. I’ll even have time in the middle for a nap.
Often, I’ll get more done in those 12 hours than I had gotten done in the whole week before. I’m energised when I land. I had gotten so much done that I could enjoy the trip with no guilt. And there was still the return trip!
After my last trip, I thought there had to be a way I could recreate this feeling and productivity. There was! It’s called airplane mode. I wish it was as simple as turning it on.
I try to mimic the experience best I can. Instead of sitting on my sofa with my laptop, I’ll go to sit on the desk. I made sure to not have a desk chair that is too comfy. I’ll turn off the wifi to not give me any temptations and set the clock. The clock could be an hour or two depending on how much I need to get done.
I’ll have my kindle and laptop and even a physical book. I can’t say I can be productive for 12 hours straight like I can on a plane. But an hour or two that acting like I’m on a plane is often more productive than a full day otherwise. Like my brain tricks me into thinking I need to eat that cookie, I trick it into being productive.
There’s a barbershop right under my apartment. It’s pretty convenient to call down and head over there. No driving. No looking for parking. walk downstairs. It saves me about 30 minutes or so. The catch is that it’s almost double as expensive as other places. It’s so convenient that I never looked elsewhere. Why would I? The haircut was good enough and it was convenient.
Well, one day I wanted to get a haircut and it was closed. What did I want at that time? Just for my normal haircut place to be open. So I can get the same convenient haircut that I always got.
I reluctantly looked for another haircut place. I was pretty surprised to find one a block away. It was half the price and a much better haircut. Now I always go to this new haircut place and would have never known about it if the first one wasn’t closed.
It made me wonder where else in my life was I willing to take good enough since it was convenient? It’s so easy to go with the flow. Stick to something that works. I did the same with a laptop that was showing signs of aging. Getting a new laptop improved my workflow. But I was stubborn and keeping to my old, slow laptop.
I decided to do an audit of some of my normal activities. Have I looked at this recently? Is there any way I could improve it? Could it be cheaper? Better quality? Or take less time? Do I even need to do it at all?
This last one is the most important. I used to spend an hour or two grocery shopping every week. This was would also lead me to buy a bunch of unhealthy food because I happened to run into it at the grocery store. Instead, I discovered I could order from pretty much anywhere and have it delivered. Get exactly what I need, and not end up buying a bunch of junk food. I was able to save time and money instead of the grocery shopping myself.
When was the last time you took a look at your normal activities? Could you find a cheaper, higher quality, or more efficient alternative?
Say I had your permission to follow you around for a week. Awake hours only. At work, at home, at the gym. We would never talk, and I’d take plenty of notes. The end of the week comes, and I give you a piece of paper. It says here are your priorities. What would yours say?
Now someone, let’s call her Izzy, comes to talk to you a week before me. She asked you to write down your priorities. Family, Work, and health; you write. You’re told to be more specific. For example: spend an hour of quality time with your wife daily, focus on your new project, exercise for 15 minutes a day. Those are better.
Izzy and I compare notes. What do we see? Do you spend time where you say your priorities are? I know I don’t. I try. It’s hard to live up to your ideals. But ever since I did this exercise, I’ve been able to get closer. Closer to spending time with what I say is important.
If you’re like me, you’re working throughout the day. Notes, side hustles, administration. Work is being done through all waking hours. But there’s more to life than work. I know. I’ve even written it down as a priority. But how much time do I dedicate to my non-work priorities? 10% of my day? 20%?
Some weeks: it’s 90% work and 10% family. Other weeks 80% work, 10% family, But life is passing me by. Work will always be there. There will always be more. More projects to pick up. More money on the table.
With this goal in mind, I’ve been better. I have some tricks though. I realized those three priorities don’t have to be done individually. My wife and I exercise together. Quality family time and health are taken care of together. We changed our diet. We eat healthy. Again quality time and health.
Instead of working in the office, we work together. She may be studying or shopping. Usually the latter, and I’ll be typing away. Or on a phone call. It’s not a replacement for quality time, but we fit in quality time when we can. We try to do the weekly date night. It usually occurs every two weeks. But we try.
I could get some more done. Pick up another project or side hustle. But that’s okay. They will always be there. This time with my family and my good health is priceless.
Whenever I meet someone new, I ask what they do for fun. It beats the where you from and what do you do that they always get asked. I usually see a small twinkle in their eyes. People are excited to talk about their hobby or past time. I always am.
When I first met one of my students, she told me about her love for ballroom dancing. We talked about all the different styles. And I even got some tips for my wedding first dance.
By the time most people finish, I’m itching to try their hobby. They just sold me on it. And didn’t even have to try. It could be anything: sports, eating out, writing. And the conversation flows and leaves a lasting impact.
I can’t tell you how often I get asked what I do for a living. I like to change it up to keep it interesting. I’m a writer. I’m a teacher. Or marketer. All true at some point in my week. Don’t get me wrong. I love talking about medicine. It takes up so much of my life that sometimes I like to talk about what else is going on in my life. Like writing this blog or the newest restaurant I tried.
In all my hobbies, I’m considered an amateur. Every little thing seems like a mystery. When I learn something new, I feel like a kid again. Full of wonder. Of course then if someone asks me about it, I’d be happy to tell them. You can hear the wonder in my voice. Here is this new amazing restaurant I tried. Check out this new blog post.
We know how to sell. We do it without even thinking about it. We have to be talking about something that excites us. Why can’t we do it on demand? Selling has a bad connotation. It reminds us of used car salesman or those people that would go door to door to sell us something. But we have to sell on a daily basis.
Convince someone that already takes 8 pills a day to take another one? I have to sell them on why it’s important. Ask someone who has knee pain that they need to exercise? More selling. Convince my wife that she wants to try this new Mexican food place I found? Selling.
It’s a skill we need to use every day. And the best part is that we already know how to do it. It’s easy to get excited about our hobbies and sell someone on it. We are telling them why we love it and the best parts of it. We can do the same for other parts of our life that we have to sell.
You know why your patient needs to take the new medicine. Wouldn’t her improved health be exciting? I bet you’d be pretty happy if she came back and the medicine worked. Let that enthusiasm through. Think about the why behind what you’re doing. You’ll be able to sell naturally. You already do it all the time.
Now sell me on your hobby. I’ll highlight a few in future posts.
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