Putting Yourself in Airplane Mode: Why you do your best work while flying

Grand Canyon planes

Not being an avid plane spotter, this was the most appropriate image I could find. Yes, the planes I take are usually a bit bigger than these…

What is it about airplanes and getting things done? I find I’m at my absolute most productive when I’m strapped into my Economy class seat, whether it’s a quick flight over the Channel or a transatlantic odyssey. Is it just me? (Maybe so, as when I look around I mainly see people sleeping, watching films or playing Candy Crush Saga on their iPads, or – the horror! – staring out into space doing nothing at all.)

For me, at least, I can identify a few reasons as to why I’m so productive on board…

  • No WiFi

Yes, I know that planes are starting to offer WiFi on board but I’m not a fan. This is the one moment you can be without Facebook and email and it’s wonderful! You can’t keep refreshing your feed or checking if another super important message has appeared in your inbox. On a recent flight from Singapore to Dubai, I watched as the man sitting diagonally in front spent the entire trip trying to send a selfie over Whatsapp that said, “Hi mum, I’m on the plane!” Human creativity at its finest. The lack of access to (functioning) WiFi leaves your fingers as well as your mind free to focus on the one thing you have in front of you.

  • No… anything!

It’s not just WiFi that’s missing on board, it’s all those other distractions you have at home. Here, you don’t have a basketful of dirty laundry, a pile of bills that need paying, a pack of screaming children running around (unless you happen to have brought said children on this particular flight – in that case, good luck to you)… No opportunity for multi-tasking like a madwoman once again keeps you focused on one thing at a time.

  • Nowhere to go

On a plane, you’re also physically limited and even the most hyperactive of us will tend to stay seated in one spot for most of the flight. You can’t escape into the garden or go and make a cup of tea, you can’t potter aimlessly about the house. With your bum cheeks  planted firmly in your seat, you’re much more likely to keep reading that book or working on that document.

  • No limits

Taking a more esoteric view, there’s something about being in transit, being up in the air, between two places. The act of being in transition somehow opens your mind to all sorts of possibilities as you imagine new opportunities and feel ready to make all those changes you’ve been thinking about. The only challenge here is to keep your head in the clouds once you’re back on solid ground, and avoid getting distracted once again by the mundane realities of everyday life.

What about you? Are you productive when flying? Do you take the opportunity to disconnect? Do you gorge on free beverages and catch up on Netflix (#nojudging)? Let me know in the comments below!

Home, adventure, and something in between…

Death Valley

Someone I met on a recent adventure told me that we have two desires: home and adventure. When I first heard this, I thought it was a great insight and immediately interpreted the two as being contradictory: adventure is having no ties and travelling the world alone while home is settling down, buying a house, and […]

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Let’s meet for a coffee? No, let’s meet for SUP!

stand-up paddle boarding

On Saturday night, my sister and I ran Midnattsloppet, a 10k race that starts late in the evening and goes around Södermalm in Stockholm. Yay us! This was an amazing achievement particularly for my sister who has somehow managed to go from nothing to speedy gonzalez in less than a year. And she’s running another 10k […]

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Travelling Back In Time: Digging for family roots


For the last few years, my parents have been driving around various areas of Sweden, exploring our family roots; this year, I joined my mum on one of these trips. She’s always been interested in learning more about our family history. She herself grew up without many relatives close by and with three of four […]

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Perfectly Imperfect: Letting go and getting real

Masaya volcano

Perfectionism used to be a good thing. Or, at least, it used to be seen to be a good thing. It was the answer you were supposed to give in an interview when asked about your flaws – “Oh, I suppose I’m a perfectionist” – that is, your only flaw is that you’re too perfect. […]

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Fearless Fridays: It’s not about the money, money, money

Be Happy

I’ve been running the Fearless Fridays blog series for about 18 months now. A series of interviews consisting of five simple questions, it tells the personal stories of how these individuals have left their full-time jobs in order to pursue a passion, start up on their own, or simply do something different. Without exception, each […]

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Fearless Fridays: From teaching in schools to inspiring online

Carrie Brummer's studio

Carrie Brummer was the first person I met when I arrived at the Alive in Berlin conference back in May, and I knew right away that I wanted to interview her. Having always had a ‘conventional’ career as an art teacher, and the regimented schedule that comes with effectively staying on at school into adulthood, she has […]

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Packing list for a 10-day road trip in the US: what to bring and what not to bring

Packing for US road trip

In the grand tradition of packing lists, I thought I’d finish my tales of travelling across California, Arizona and Nevada with more detail than you could ever have wanted as to what I brought along for the trip. I’m especially proud of my packing on this trip, as I brought a ridiculous amount of clothes […]

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West Coast USA Road Trip: Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon smooth water rafting

From Death Valley, we drove on through the desert past Las Vegas – my worst nightmare, we steered well clear of this neon monstrosity. We did add one extra stop, however, on the way to what I knew would be the highlight of our trip: suddenly Hoover Dam appeared on the map on the way […]

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West Coast USA Road Trip: Yosemite and Death Valley


One of my favourite places in the world is Yosemite National Park in California. Somehow it caught my imagination when I went there once with my dad and then again a second time when I visited while he was living and working in San José. I think it was the vastness of it all, the […]

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