How to Get Work Done On Airplanes

Learn tips for using a plane flight to be more productive.

Stever Robbins
3-minute read
Episode #137
If you travel a lot, you need to know how make the most of your time on planes. I first started working on planes when I started speaking on entrepreneurship and leadership.

How to Work on Airplanes

With laptops, it’s tempting to bring your entire office with you when you fly. Don’t! Planes are perfect for the things you can’t do in your normal office. Your office is a mishmash of phone calls, emails, text messages, interruptions, and multitasking. In other words, utterly unproductive time that erodes your brain and turns you into an anxiety-ridden hair-trigger explosion waiting to happen. Reproducing that on a plane is a bad idea.

Work Faster on Planes by Using Paper

I recommend not bringing a laptop and doing your plane work on paper. Working on paper gives you time to think about what you’re doing and do a really good job. Paper needs no power cords. Besides, with a laptop, the person next to you can clearly read your strategic plan. You may not care now, but when you walk into the negotiating room and she turns out to be the CEO of the company you’re negotiating with, you’ll regret it. True story.

Even work like designing slides or writing a first draft can go faster on paper than with a computer. That’s because on computer, we get sucked into adjusting font size, choosing clipart, and creating transitions. With paper, we concentrate purely on content and can type it in later.

How to Focus Better on Planes

Unless you bring your laptop, planes are ideal for focus activities like analyzing. Bring your eastern division sales data and you might really notice that polka dots are the new herringbone. You’d never spot that back in your office.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.