No GoGo & Forced Digital Disconnection

I went into the long Labor Day weekend thinking cooly to myself "I’d love to take the weekend completely off work, since I'll have roughly six hours of flight time on Tuesday to catch up on anything left from Friday." As planned, on my flight to Boston on Tuesday, I attempted to get on Wifi (GoGo Inflight) and get tons of work done. The Gods of communication disruption had other plans for me!

First, Gogo Inflight wasn't available. What?! Apparently the plane had been having trouble with the service the past few days. “Keep trying,” said the optimistic stewardess. At that moment, I felt like I was living out the definition of insanity; trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Strike one. 

With no Wifi, there are not many other options for getting work done remotely with the team in the office. However, I have other options: offline work on my laptop, which I had been planning on plugging in at the seat, because it was low on battery. Too bad there is no plug in. Strike two.

I decide to breathe and try the option of in-flight entertainment to get my mind off of the work that was being delayed. Of course, as the Gods would have it, the in-flight entertainment system was also acting up and mine is one of the monitors that reads ‘just a moment please, the entertainment system is starting … ’ for the ENTIRE duration of the flight.  Strike three.

Strike four? Yes, I have that one too. My iPhone had gone from 100% when I left my house to 55% by the time I was boarding (less than two hours) and, for mysteries I care not to decipher, would not charge despite there being a USB port. So, no listening to the Genghis Kahn biography, which I’m about halfway through, and no Sudoku or Solitaire, which are my go-tos for mindless activity when I’m flying.

I should have known better. I won’t say it too loudly because I don’t want to incur more of its wrath, but Mercury Retrograde is coming up and already in shadow, and I’m feeling it. Thank goodness it’s the last one of the year, I hope to make it through unscathed, considering I have a lot of travel, speaking and marketing to do between now and October 9th!

What’s a girl to do when she can’t accomplish the tasks she set out to accomplish, and can’t even let her team know that she is (not purposely) offline!? First, practice acceptance. Second, blitz! I power through writing a post for the company blog, and clean up my downloads folder while relentlessly hitting the Wifi button every 10 minutes or so. Insanity. The time constraint is a good motivator and I bust out the post in record time.  I sneak in some book time on my phone, leaving just enough battery to check my email for emergencies when I land. 

As luck would have it, our flight is longer than usual because of storms in the Midwest that have us flying up through Canada and then back down to Boston. I have even more time to myself. Time to think. Time to look out the window. Time to ponder and reflect. 

I’ve been hearing more about digital detoxing, or strategic disconnection, which for many of us should be a regular practice. It’s hard sometimes, even outside of work related use. For example, in my free time I love taking pictures, posting to and scrolling through Instagram, and pinning recipes or home remodeling ideas.  I do commit to leaving my phone off at regular intervals on weekends, which feels good.

The disconnect is necessary to clear the mind and to actually allow the mind to operate on its own without any added, outside distractions. Since hundreds of thoughts race through our heads every minute, we can use a break from the trillions of terabytes of digital data that we create on a daily basis. My forced disconnection on this flight could have turned into digital distress, but I won’t let it. I’m not that emotionally or psychologically dependent on electronics, and it felt good to have time to myself.

Even though I’ve been following a near-daily meditation practice of late, and have been writing more personal journals, I don’t often have long stretches of time to simply think, or to look out at the incredible landscape below as I fly across America. This time, however, I didn’t bring anything to write on, or with. I do some strategic, and inconspicuous (for the most part) exercises to keep my circulation going.

In between getting lost in thoughts, making mental lists, and an extra session of airplane meditation, time goes by and we’ve landed. A quick check of my email to see nothing has blown up, but I know I'll have some catching up to do, which won’t be an issue as I’ll be on west coast time anyways and up late. Accepting what I couldn’t change, not freaking out, and giving up on Gogo didn’t spell the end of the world. It has taught me, however, to always charge my laptop fully before a flight, bring an external cell charger, and bring a notebook, since some of those fleeting thoughts were keepers!