Productive Isolation

Sunset Lava by WTL Photos, on Flickr I'm in Providence, Rhode Island for a wedding this weekend, but I thought I would share some of the remarkable productive isolation I've been experiencing so far. Our four-hour flight to Chicago turned into a four-hour layover in the Midway airport, which then finished with a two-hour flight to Providence. Aside from the thrill of take-off and landing, though, I love airplanes for the amount of productivity and focus that they foster.

I'm not really one for chatting up my stranger neighbors (my introversion rules in this case), and plugging into headphones for such a length of time usually end up hurting my ears. But the drone of the jet engines is just enough white noise to tune out all the errant thoughts and distractions, and the dimmed cabin lights keep all those shiny things out of my peripheral vision. No internet means no Twitter, either! Oh, and Justin prefers the window seat, which means any amount of prolonged cloud-gazing gives me a kink in my neck.

Somewhere over California by Justin in SD, on Flickr

So rather than squint at my iPhone screen or watch a movie, I tend to take advantage of the focus time to read and write. On the first leg of our trip, for example, I finished one book, proofread a ten-page thesis paper for a friend, outlined a blog post in my trusty Scout Book, and started into a second book. All in four hours. It's amazing!

Doing this in the airport during our layover was much more difficult (I'm a people-watcher by nature), but I was able to focus again on the second flight and make significant headway on book number two while the middle-aged men on either side of my played middle-aged games on their iPads.

When you find yourself in these isolating moments, seize the opportunity to be productive and accomplish something that you normally wouldn't have time to do.

What kinds of productive isolation do you have or could you make in your life?