On the Lower Frequencies: Working Off the Go
Most of the talk surrounding ‘working on the go’ relates to the best ways to stay connected when you’re away from the office/away from home. We’re the electric society, you see; and, that means that the highest aim of humanity is achieved in constant connection to the internet, by hook or by crook, or by LAN line or air card.
But, when I’m working on the go, I’ve found that I am at my most effective when I unplug from the grid. And, when I say ‘unplug’, I don’t mean ‘run off battery power’ (although, come to think of it, I partly mean that); I mean disconnect from the Internet, turn off your wireless.
Even if you think that you live and work in the cloud, and that this would be impossible for you, it’s really not, at least not in all instances. I find that I am at my most productive and creative when I am offline. Most of what I draft for work is done in Microsoft Word, while my wireless is off. (Of course, this is sort of aided by the fact that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s excuse for commuter train wifi is, apparently, run off those Geico gerbils rowing.) Without the crutch of the Internet, I am no longer battered with innumerable, shiny bauble distractions; I can focus, on one subject, and spin out ramifications in my own head, rather than racing to Google, so that I can find out what someone else tells me to think on an issue.
Not only do I work better this way, I’m also faster. Creating an outline, starting at the beginning, and working straight through to the end, is a rare pleasure in this new world. If you’re worried about linking to websites, just place some anchor text, like (LINK), into the spots where you want to include web references; go back and fill them in later, which’ll offer you an opportunity for a final read-through. (Just don’t forget to take them out (LINK).) If you are concerned over losing out on the discoveries you might make while trolling the Internet, you can always make those forays in the context of further drafts; and, if you want to do your research ahead of time, print out what you find, and take the packet with you. (I know, NOT paperless, very bad; but, I drive a gigantic SUV, so I guess I don’t really care.)
While this may sound like a simple argument against multi-tasking, it’s not; it’s more than that. Generally, drafting with the web is a passive activity, in which you are constantly fed a stream of information, and influenced, continuously and aggressively, by the thoughts of others; very rarely in 2011 do we give over to our active minds a chance to decide their own ways, purely in the context of our own unique perspectives, in all the quiet that still surrounds the web.