Increasing productivity while flying

Business travelers spend so much time on planes. If you want to spend more time hanging out with your loved ones and less time cool matworking once you get home, you’ll likely need a to get a few things done in flight! However, as you may have noticed planes don’t exactly create an environment conducive to working hard. Here are some tips for making that time as productive as possible.

Block the noise. Noise canceling headphones will keep you from hearing the distracting chatter of your seatmates and help you focus on work.

Charge your battery. Ideally, make sure your battery is charged before you get on the plane. Plugs are not always available, and they may be for a car adapter instead of a traditional two-prong. Tip: Dim your screen to conserve battery life.

Don’t count on internet. While in-flight wifi can be a boon to productivity, it’s not reliably available. Plan ahead of time to have work that doesn’t require you to be online. For shorter flights I wouldn’t even worry about internet. Just download things you need before the flight.

Watch the seat in front of you. On a lot of airlines if the person in front of you reclines there just isn’t enough room for a laptop to open fully on the tray table. And if you’ve already got it open and they recline suddenly, you could be in a world of hurt. If you want to use your computer on your lap, consider a chill mat to keep the heat off your legs (pictured). Also, if you use a memory key use a short one because in tight quarters it may break off! ETA: Another option, as mentioned in the comments, is to use your tablet and keyboard. I totally agree with this! Saves space for packing and less worry about the seat in front of you.

Organize your stuff before you board. This is a good idea whether you’re planning to work or not! Don’t be that guy that’s shifting for an hour looking for stuff during the flight (ahem, Home Warrior).

Don’t overpromise. Don’t make any promises to your boss or customers about getting work done. While you can certainly get work done, if there is a ground delay or if the internet is unreliable you may not be able to deliver.(don’t say you’ll email a quote during the flight or plan to finish something that has a deadline during your flight because something may happen with the wifi). .

Take breaks.  Walk around, drink some water, just do something to give your eyes and mind a break. Then get back to work!

Readers, what are your tips for staying productive during flights?


  1. Rather than get out my laptop during the flight. I would use my tablet and my wireless keyboard. Doesn’t take up as much room and I would still be able to be productive.

  2. Until airlines increase leg room and prevent reclining I’ll be using my tablet so +1 to Wendy.

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