5 Tips for Working on an Airplane

March 22, 2016


Have you ever tried working while on an airplane? From turbulence to expense tracking to crying babies, staying productive can be a pretty difficult task.

A marketing consultant friend of mine – I’ll call him Frank – used to get so frustrated by how little he could accomplish in the air. After a string of failed attempts and two missed deadlines, he knew that unless he could figure out how to be productive while traveling, he’d never have enough time in his schedule to properly run his business.

Over the next couple of years, Frank began making tweaks to his process. And it paid off. With his new system, he was able to triple his business revenue.

If you have to fly regularly, you can find ways to be productive. Here are 5 tips from Frank:

1. Dress for Success

No matter how long your flight is, wear the most comfortable clothes you can. Frank always wears hooded jackets with pockets so he can carry his wallet and phone on his flights.

Think about function just as much as comfort to get the most done.

Wearing a suit on a plane will reduce your arm mobility and make you much hotter than you need to be. If you need to come off the plane looking professional, bring clothes to change into – that way you can still maintain the look without suffering during the flight.

2. Request the Best

If your client is willing to pay for it, ask for first class to ensure maximum comfort. You’ll have more room to work and be around fewer people. Since first class is highly unlikely for most, make the best of what you have by requesting a few things in coach.

First, see if you can get a seat in the middle section of the plane to avoid distractions from stewardesses who work up front and passengers who head to restrooms in the back.

Also, request a window seat to ensure you don’t have to get up anytime the person sitting next to you wants to move around.

3. Equip your Trip

With the right equipment on hand, anything is possible. Here are some essentials to have while working in the air:

  • Laptop or tablet: This will be your gateway to any documents you need to write, edit, or review. It’s hard to be productive on a smartphone, but you can do that too if need be.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones: Block out distractions with noise-cancelling headphones, or use they to listen to soothing sounds, music or videos while you work.
  • Travel pillow: Keep your head propped up comfortably to reduce neck strain while you do your work.

If you have one, a portable charger is always handy to have around. And, of course, always make sure to keep your laptop battery at full charge before the flight.

4. Prepare for Air

While some flights offer wifi service, there’s no guarantee you’ll have Internet access. Make sure you’re prepared to work offline by creating an agenda of activities you can do without the Internet.

To ensure you’ve got everything you need to complete your work, use a tool like Snagit to take screenshots of web resources.

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5. Turn Stress into a Learning Quest

Every now and then, something will come up that makes working in the air impossible.

Instead of fretting about it, bring a learning resource with you. Frank keeps business eBooks on his laptop – so in the worst case scenario, you can sit back and enjoy some learnings that will also positively impact your business.

Are You Ready for Liftoff?

Staying productive while traveling is quite a challenge. However, if you have the right techniques and tools, it’s definitely possible. For those that travel often for work, you’ve got to learn how to make the most of this time.

What other tips or challenges do you have for staying productive in the air? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.