I spend a lot of my life on airplanes and whether for work or holiday, when I travel I still have to get stuff done. I own a design business and work full time for an architecture firm, so I don’t ever feel like I get to fully check out of work, even when traveling. Because of that, I am often spending much of my time on airplanes working and after years of trying to figure out how to get work done on an airplane, I feel like I finally have figured out some tips that help get more done while you fly, leaving less to get done when you land in your destination so you can actually enjoy your trip. Here are my best tips for how to get work done an an airplane and everything I’ve learned over the years.
Sit in an Aisle Seat.
I know some people are really particular about which seats they choose and while I go back and forth between the window and the aisle option, when I need to work, I always choose the aisle for a couple of reasons. First, there is more space than the middle or window since you can spread out a bit into the aisle if need be. When I need to do a lot of computer work, I can spread my elbows into the aisle and it’s easier to type and do stuff on my laptop. Second, it’s easy access to the overhead bin where sometimes I’ll have documents or power chargers or things that I need access to. I find the aisle seat is just the overall easiest to get a bunch of stuff done.
Make sure you have headphones for your flight.
I always confirm that I have headphones when leaving for the airport because I like to listen to music while I fly but also because if I put a playlist on and my earphones in, I’ll get in the zone to work and not be distracted by crying babies or a chatty seat mate. When I need to work on a flight, earphones go in the minute I sit in my seat and stay in until we disembark the airplane.
Make a list before you leave of the things you can accomplish on your flight.
I always make a To Do list for my flight the day before I travel just like I normally would if I was working a normal day in my home office. It helps me to have a specified list of things I want to get done on a flight and helps narrow my focus so that I can just knock stuff off the list. This also helps thinking about if you’ll have internet on the flight or not (which leads to my last points below), as sometimes it’s harder to think of the things that you can do without internet on the fly. Make a To Do list and it will help focus your attention on the things you can actually work on and get done on your flight.
Don’t count on internet.
While most flights across the continental US and around the world now have internet available, I personally do almost all of my work travel to Hawaii across the ocean on flights which do not have internet, so I still have to figure out how to do my work without it. I still write emails and such while on flights, but I just can’t send them until I touch down and have an internet connection. But even if your flight does have an internet connection in the air, don’t count on it. I can’t tell you how many flights I’ve been on that the internet is down or the connection is so slow you can’t do anything anyways. Figure out what work you can do without the internet and if you end up having a connection, great. But if you don’t, it doesn’t slow down your work either.