Airplane days, trains and pretend commutes

I read somewhere of a fella who goes flying in order to avoid phone calls. That’s excessive, even for me.

But having found that necessary business trips came with unexpected benefits from being out of contact with email and the web, he now regularly conjures up a cheaper and greener equivalent. He just decides that today is a Airplane Day and switches everything off.

Similarly, there are people who do pretend commutes. They have to be people who are working at home because otherwise their pretend and their real commutes would overlap, creating a paradox that might unfurl the entire space-time continuum. Granted, that’s a worst-case scenario.

But otherwise they do a real pretend commute. They ‘leave’ at the same time – they don’t go out of the house but they dress, they hurry to finish breakfast and down one last gulp of tea. And then they shut themselves away for 15 or 30 minutes. It’s usually the same length of time that they used to have as a genuine, real-life commute and usually I think it shortens a bit as the years go by and they’re under more pressure to work.

This is all about releasing and controlling and channelling pressure, though.

During a genuine, real-life commute, there isn’t much you can do. True, these days you can work on your phone or iPad, but you could also see those being nicked away from you.

So you read.

The news, a book, anything.

The fact that you cannot do anything else means you do it and for that 15 or 30 minutes, you’re calm.

It’s easy to do when you’re really commuting, it is much harder to make yourself have a pretend commute – but the benefits are the same. You start the working day ready and composed. You take in information, you learn things, you just enjoy thinking about different things. And for everyone, that’s fuel.

For us as writers, it’s the sand that becomes the pearl.

And I say this sitting on a train doing exactly the work I’d be doing at my home office. Well. I did read a book, though. Come on. I read all of it.

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