How to be productive on an airplane

5 Ways to Be Productive on an Airplane

Posted: October 16, 2018 by Armana Christianson

With how much we travel and spend time on airplanes, we have to be able to be productive on an airplane. There’s just never enough time in the day, we need to take advantage! It can be hard to have enough motivation though when you’ve just spend a couple hours fighting your way to the airport, through security and on the plane. By the way, if you don’t have TSA Pre-Check, you’re missing out. So you get on the plane, finally relax for second before take-off and then it’s time to get busy.

Here are my tips on how to be productive on an airplane:
  • Make a to-do list BEFORE you start heading to the airport. I create a list as part of my routine of making sure everything is ready for the next day. What’s the minimum number of things I want to accomplish? Be specific! For me, I wrote down that I needed to try and write a couple new posts for Graceful Golfer. This post too! Look at me, getting stuff done. Another thing I want to do is get some social media posts prepared for a business that I remote work for. And last, I needed to start work on a new website for a client. I wasn’t sure how far I could get so I just left that one open ended.
  • Decide if you need the WIFI, and if you do…just pay for it. There have been plenty of trips where I could go without WIFI. Whether I’m writing posts or just want to listen to music. Or even on flights where it’s so short that I wouldn’t have time to get my laptop out and do a ton of work. But then there are the cross country flights like the one I’m on right now. I really want to be able to get some stuff done since I’m in the air for so long. So I paid the $8 and now I can schedule my social media posts, work on the the blog and work on new changes for that site. I look at it like if I went to a coffee shop to work…I’d be paying for a coffee there to use their WIFI.
  • Pack your carry-on appropriately. Seriously, one of the worst things you can do is put all of your work material in a roller carry-on that is put in an overhead bin. Why? Because when you do that, you feel like you are inconveniencing the people around you. I did that one time. One. I had to have the people around me get out of their seats, I had to pull my suitcase down to get my stuff out, then shove it back up overheard. Climb back in my seat and get all situated again. Anna and I both just have a single carry-on, a backpack. I just shove my purse in there too so I don’t have to carry it separately. We’ve talked about everything that we carry in our backpacks in a separate post so i won’t go through it all again. I just make sure I have my purse, my headphones, laptop and to-do list.
  • Bring a variety of items. If you have a singular thing to do or work on for the entire flight, it could be very boring. And in the end, probably not get as much done as you’d like. As you can see from my to-do list, I have a variety of things to work on. But besides that, I usually start out my flight by working on the sudoku puzzle in the in-flight magazine. I come back to it later on when I need a break. I always bring a book when I travel, so sometimes I pull that out for 15 minutes or so. Keep it interesting!
  • Make sure you have something to listen to. I have definitely met people that don’t like to listen to music or podcasts when they work. I totally get it. It can be distracting and especially hard to be productive on an airplane. You know what’s also distracting? The guy 2 rows in front of you that has his laptop open watching a movie so loud you can hear it. Or the baby at the back of the plane that can’t stop crying because their ears hurt so bad from the flight. Or even the person sitting next to you that wants to carry on a conversation when you don’t. Just take it from me, I’d rather have the option to put my headphones in and drown it all out than by annoyed by the situation I’m in that I can’t do anything about.

I try to make the most of my travel time so I feel productive and ahead of my game by the time I get off the plane! These tips have really helped me out. Do you have any tips for being productive on an airplane? Let me know in the comments!


  • Christopher James October 24, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Great article, Armana! One thing I do is combine your first two points. If I can avoid purchasing wifi on a flight where I do not get it free, I create a list of what I want to accomplish and also download from the internet things I can work on. I will work on it in MS Word, Excel, etc., then when I get free wifi, I upload it. So far it has been working!

    • Armana Christianson October 24, 2018 at 8:52 am

      Totally agree Christopher. Our last couple flights, I did the same thing!


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