I spend four hours a day in my 2011 Dodge Pickup… While this commute may read like a nightmare, it provides a unique span of time to consider the mix of tasks that make up a founder/CTO’s life.
The truck provides a unique place to focus on strategy and planning. At my desk, I can expect regular interrupts from Slack, texts, or email. I have none of those distractions on 93, or the backroads of New Hampshire. I’ll wrestle some new idea or take calls with my team.
I find commuter trains and the Acela to NYC are productive for writing… The concentrated available time on a commuter train helps me to work quickly. If I only have 30 minutes, I don’t overthink things - I just crank it out. Spending longer time periods in any space out of the office removes distractions and interruptions.
Being in an alternative setting is like looking at a blank canvas without cues or context. I think that’s why I like creative thinking and planning on airplanes. You look out at the clouds or the landscape below and think about what’s possible. It becomes easier to fill the page.
I enjoy working on the train during my two hour commute to the office in the morning. I’m lucky enough to be at the start of my commuter rail trip and can always get a seat with a table. I’m more of an early bird and am thinking most clearly during the morning hours so the focus that comes from sitting in the Quiet Car on the train really allows perspective.
I find [airplanes] to be incredibly productive time for thinking and refocusing. (No, I don't use the wifi.)
On an airplane, I know that I only have so many hours to get the project done - AND - I usually don't want to to be doing that work once I'm at my destination. Plus, there's nothing to distract me.
I get a TON of work done on flights. Especially for long flights, I'll pay for a seat upgrade. I can comfortably have my laptop open the whole flight. I don’t pay for WIFI, so there are absolutely no distractions. I'm effectively captive on the flight with no other option but to work!
Airport business lounges… are godsends. Comfortable, with all the amenities to suit business travelers. I've intentionally gotten to an airport a couple hours early before just to get work done before a trip.
Being away from people who can interrupt me at any minute means that I can string longer periods of undisturbed time on a single idea or project. Because of that, the key projects I leave for myself for the road are all creative. Writing, presentation building, strategy development, etc. I find that unless I have a minimum of one hour completely undisturbed it's really hard to write anything more than an email.
Flights are the best place to get stuff done. You are away from the distractions of the office and completely offline. The constant white noise of in-flight really helps my thinking process and I get a lot of my writing done on planes, but only if there’s room to work and I’m flying alone.
As execs, we are “bombarded” by interrupts. In fact, often our job is to remove distractions from the team, thus we end up being distracted in their place. Flights provide a space that is free from all distractions. [Getting out of the office] allows you to focus - get into the zone - and drive out ideas.