How to get more done by pretending you’re on an airplane

I get more work done when I’m flying. It’s as simple as that. I can spend two hours on an airplane and accomplish almost as much as I can in an entire day in my office. What’s that all about? And, more importantly, how can I be that productive even when I’m not on a plane? I’d love to tap into that level of productivity on a regular basis.

So, why do I get more work done when I’m flying? It’s really pretty simple.

1. No internet, no internet, no internet. I have a laptop and a smartphone. So, wherever I am, the internet constantly beckons. Even when I’m not actually on the internet, “I’ll just…” lurks in the back of my mind, draining some small part of my mental focus. If nothing else, I have to assign a few brain cells to guard duty, constantly saying “no” to that ever-present temptation. And, if I give in, say goodbye to at least fifteen minutes. More if you count the time it takes to re-engage whatever I was working on. But, on an airplane, it’s gone. Not just the internet, but even the temptation. (I’m way too cheap to be even slightly tempted to pay for in-flight access.) So, flying equals instant productivity boost.

2. No Email. One of the great benefits of being in an office that uses Outlook for email comes from the fact that I don’t have Outlook installed on my laptop. When I’m away from the office, I need the internet to access my email. So, of course, no internet means no email. And, no email means that I can actually get some other things done. Granted, I’ll have to face those emails eventually. But for now, pure bliss. (I’m sure many love not being able to use their phones. But, I since I rarely use my phone as an actual phone, that’s not much of a benefit for me.)

3. No Drop Ins. Western Seminary is a great place to work. Faculty, staff, and students enjoy spending time together, and faculty always have their office doors open so people can drop in and chat for a bit. It makes for a wonderful work environment. But, it does take a toll on productivity at times. On an airplane, of course, drop ins are a bit more challenging. As long as I don’t end up next to someone who can’t figure out that the laptop, book, and headphones I pulled out of my briefcase when I sat down probably means that I don’t want to chat, I don’t have a problem with social interruptions.

4. Nowhere to Go. Unless you’re more talented than I, you can’t really go anywhere on an airplane. I suppose you might need to visit the bathroom on occasion, but that’s about it. You can’t run errands, go for a walk, visit another office, or frolic in the fountain. (I’ve never actually done that, but it sounds like fun.) You’re stuck. That’s probably not good for too long, but in short doses it’s fabulous.

So, planes are great for productivity. But, that doesn’t really help unless I want to start flying even more than I already do – which would eventually result in me writing a post on “5 Things I Learned about Why Flying All the Time Is Bad for Your Marriage.” The question, then, is how to replicate that kind of productivity when I’m not flying.

To that end, here are four things that I’m going to try implementing in my regular routine.

1. Find my peak productivity place. Other than airplanes, where do I get the most work done? It clearly isn’t my office. And, working from home is nice, but it’s hardly more productive. And, I can’t afford to buy a cabin in the mountains somewhere. So, the next best option for me is a coffee shop. Next to airplanes, coffee shops have long been my second most productive environment. But, now that they all offer free wifi, they’re not as good as they used to be. (BTW – If anyone knows a good coffee shop near Western Seminary that does not have free wifi, let me know.) So, I need to do a few more things to make a coffee shop my perfect productivity place.

2. Turn the wifi off. This isn’t quite as good as not having wifi, but it’s a close second. For some reason, actually turning the wifi off on my laptop removes some (not all) of the temptation. Granted, I can easily reach over and turn it on again, but that extra step is just enough of an obstacle to make me more likely to leave it off. And, the longer it stays off, the more work I get done.

3. Use “airplane mode.” This one’s actually a little harder. I use my cell phone. A lot. I’m one of those people who is constantly fiddling with their smartphone. So, if I’m going to get some good, focused work done, the cell phone must go. I could turn it off completely, but I don’t like waiting for it to start up again. So, “airplane mode” it is.

4. Use a “distraction free” writing program. The first three steps will work just fine if I’m just reading. But, when I want to get some writing (or note-taking) done, I’m going to try something else. Lately I’ve been doing most of my writing in Evernote, and it’s great. But, for maximum productivity, I’m going to try one of the newer “distraction free” writing tools. The idea behind these programs is that they go full screen and prevent anything on the computer from interrupting your writing experience. Once I’ve killed the internet, I’m not sure what else could pop up to distract me, but now that I’ve created a great work environment, I don’t want to take any chances.

So, that’s my grand experiment in increasing my personal productivity. And, so far so good. I wrote the first half of this post on the airplane this morning. And, I finished it this afternoon in a coffee shop using every guideline except the distraction free writing program. (I haven’t decided which one to use yet.) We’ll see if I can manage to make it a regular part of life rather than just an isolated afternoon. If I succeed, I’ll come back and let you know how it went. Stay tuned.

[If you’re interested in this, you may also want to check The 7 Habits of Serious Writers. Scientia et Sapientia is sponsored by the Master of Theology (Th.M.) program at Western Seminary. It’s an open forum, so please feel free to join the discussion.]


About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on June 27, 2011, in Misc, Th.M. Program, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 179 Comments.

  1. I meant to reply to your post earlier – but got sidetracked when googling “distraction free writing tools” 😦

    Some great tips there… its certainly an area that I struggle with.

    • That’s awesome. I got a good chuckle out of that. There’s nothing like getting distracted while following up on a post about how to avoid getting distracted. Well done.

      • 🙂 I had fun writing it. In all seriousness – what writing tools have you found works best for you. I am enjoying Windows One Note..

      • Right now, my primary writings tools are Word (for longer writing projects and anything involving footnotes), Evernote (shorter writing projects and blog posts), Endnote (research database), and Dropbox (backup and cross-platform syncing). I used OneNote for quite a while, but I’ve come to like Evernote much better.

  2. Thanks for the friendly reminders. As a person that works from home, I have begun using office hours in which I allow myself to not answer calls, texts, or emails. I have noticed that because I work from home people assume I have a lot of unmanaged time. So, I have started managing it better, to erase that misconception.

    • I sympathize completely. I only work from home one day a week, but I run into the same misconceptions. And some of them are mine!

  3. Great stuff. I think the no drop ins is key. Plus you can get up, but don’t really want to. Easier to stay on task.

  4. The internet, email and my blog are huge distractions for me…like right now! 😉 I definitely think NOT having internet access is the best way to go, at least for me to get actual work done!

  5. such a good point, i hate how the iphone means you are constantly in touch with someone!

  6. These are great tips! Unfortunately, I get distracted far too easily, so the only thing that works for me on an airplane is the fact that I can’t go anywhere…I am FORCED to do something productive in a short amount of time! 😉

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  7. BRILLIANT ideas. Now if only someone would bring me a Bloody Mary and a blanket, I’d be the most productive (and happy) worker EVER.


  8. mylibrarycardworeout

    When I get my computer for school I think I am going to try your work technique. I am constantly distracted by the internet because of all of the cool places to go, the amazing games to play, and the intriguing articles. I am definitely going to be using your ideas about turing the wifi off and putting my cell phone to airplane mode (but it is usually off when I am doing school work.)
    My dad sometimes will put on a pair of Bose Noise Reducing Headphones (he sometimes does it at work) and he can he nothing. You can yell and he will not hear you. That is how he gets work done because he cannot hear anyone and everyone will ignore him because they know they will not get a response.
    Great post by the way.
    Thanks for it.

    • Good call. I definitely should have mentioned the headphones. Some good music and high quality headphones makes all the difference.

  9. Great post. Airplanes really do hold you prisoner to what you need to get done. Internet is one of my biggest distractions. I look forward to implementing your advice.

  10. I’m with you on this! I am always SO productive on a plane! Unfortunately, I only get the chance to fly a few times/year, so my productivity levels don’t sky-rocket (see what I did there?) very often.

    It’s easier said than done to turn off the wifi, internet, etc…I need an intervention!

  11. I love your ideas and agree that coffee shops rock! However, I get next to nothing done on planes. I have had too many long-ass flights from say Atlanta to Tokyo (13-14 hours). On those flight I focus on survival–getting through the need to sit still for so damn long–a marathon of immobility.

    At any rate, congrats on Freshly Pressed. Think I’ll take a break and head to a coffee shop!


  12. Hi, great post. I recommend FocusWriter as a good distraction-free program. What’s more, you can put pictures as your background for inspiration 🙂 I used to use ‘Focused’ but when my laptop got reset I lost it, and I couldn’t find it again to install. Another program you might want to try is Write or Die by Dr Wicked, which can be online (a risk, but necessary) at or you can spend $10 and get the Desktop Eidition. It starts eating your words if you stop for too long! You can also set wordcount goals and disable ‘save’ until you’ve done it etc … I find it boosts my productivity super-much.

    Anyway, congratulations on Freshly Pressed … get back to work! 🙂

    PS – Libraries are good places to write. They still have the internet and, admittedly, things like Facebook are only blocked if it’s a school computer, but they’re usually quieter.

    • Thanks for the suggestions on writing programs. I’ve seen FocusWriter recommended before, so I’ll have to check that one out. But a word processor that eats my words!? I’m not sure I need quite that much stress in my life. 🙂

  13. clever idea, i never think like this 🙂 thank you

  14. Every once in a while I have a computer free evening. I work on other projects, the house, whatever. Because I know that once I sit down at the computer it’s over until bedtime! I love your idea of working distraction free for a couple of hours to maximize productivity! Thanks for a great post and congrats on being FP!

  15. Very good point!
    I have my phone turned off at least half of my awake-day, more if I have a tight deadline for a project.
    And I like to go to a library that doesn’t have wi-fi (yes, there are a few).

  16. Thanks for the post! I’m also a fan of coffee shops – I work from home, so it’s soooo easy to get up to nonsense when I’m trying to be productive. Coffee shops give that element of “public” so while all those other people really don’t care what I’m doing, and aren’t going to bother me, it feels like they are watching and noticing what I’m doing.
    But recently I have been turning off my Internet and that works really well. (Except towards the end of the month when there is bandwidth that will get *wasted* if it’s not used up!)
    But I am interested in those distraction-free writing programs… will have a look.

  17. Know exactly what you mean. When I was in the corporate world I got more done on planes than in my office. Now that I own a B&B i find it harder than ever to concentrate on the paper work and creative planning. Interactions with humans are much harder to work around!

  18. Very interesting points. I definitely find the internet distracting while at work. Strangely, at home, the idea of just browsing randomly holds zero appeal – I usually don’t even have a computer ON, let alone sit at it once work is done.
    I don’t see my office approving my move to a wifi-free coffee shop for work, unfortunately 😛
    congrats on FP

  19. That’s one of my major problems–the internet and emails!! I’m always checking it 😦

  20. Great post… sad thing is the only reason I found it and read it is because I am busy loitering on the Internet rather than doing something more productive :/


  21. Brilliant post! Thanks a lot!

  22. Marc,
    I’m military and once held a position that made me the “belly button” for a large office-like environment. I found that when I needed to make people stop bugging me, I’d slap on some earphones and just work. No music, just earphones. This keeps the less-than-urgent folks from bugging you.

    Great article. I normally sleep on airplanes if possible and find that also boosts my productivity. Naps are amazing.

  23. These are awesome tips! The web is always a huge distraction for me, as well as texting. Thanks for sharing

  24. Coffee shops are my most productive workplace, even with the free Wi-Fi. Maybe it’s because I know I’m there to work, and that the internet is available at home, so I don’t need to do anything online “just real quick” like I would at home. I don’t even connect to the free Wi-Fi when I’m there. I know I can if I need to look up something, like the spelling of a word or a type of car, but for some reason I’m just not tempted.

    It might also just be the atmosphere. I adore writing in my local Starbucks cafe, because it’s inside of our Barnes and Noble, and I’m surrounded by two things I love: coffee and books. There are also a lot of interesting people around. I loved writing in my university’s student center for the same reason, minus the books (unless you count the textbooks everyone was reading). I got almost more pre-writing and writing done in both those places than I’ve gotten at home. There are a lot fewer distractions at BN and the student center than there are at home.

    I guess that’s what it comes down to: minimizing your distractions. I bet if I went to my BN and pretended I was on an airplane, I’d get even more done!

    • You’re way more disciplined than I. I love going to B&N, but I spend way too much time browsing the books. Which is particularly funny because I almost never buy books there.

  25. This will definitely help me once I avoid giving in to the temptation. Thanks!

  26. I have a flight to Korea sometime in my future. Maybe that is when I will finally write the sequel to my novel.

    Nice post!

  27. Great post, thanks a lot for sharing a very good article.

  28. I enjoyed reading your post. I’m implementing this strategy to help expand the number of posts on my blog. I appreciate the advice.

  29. I think that’s smart. Who knew airplanes could be the best place to work? The only problem with being on an airplane to work is the kids. They’re constantly talking. It can be annoying.

    • I’m flying with my two daughters this weekend. Somehow I don’t think that flight will be as productive as usual.

  30. Really enjoyed reading this–what’s funny is I was getting some killer work done on a story I’ve started, and went to look something up, and BAM, here I am surfing the internet. What a surprise!

  31. Great post! For me, working on an airplane is about finding the narrow middle ground between (1) feeling abject terror and (2)taking enough Xanax to knock out a horse. The coffee shop works better for me. I’m a teacher (as well as a writer), and when I grade papers from home-even away from a computer–I am distracted by the dogs the child and a hundred other things. The only downside of the coffee shop is getting the motivation to drag myself out of the house. 🙂

  32. Stop drinking booze,and take all Alcohol off of FLIGHTS

  33. I completely agree with the idea of pretending that you are on an airplane to be more productive. A buddy of mine used to be in broadcast journalism. He called it “editing room” or “dark room” time. Meaning NO INTERRUPTIONS!!! And yes, if you can focus with out those interruptions, you can definitely get more done in 2 hours than you call in 8 hours at the office. Great story!

  34. So what you’re saying is all these labour saving devices are having the opposite effect?

  35. I guess it all depends on the job you are doing, for me I need Internet all the time, and here it comes temptation!

  36. Great tips. Thanks for sharing!

  37. Oh my gosh YES. Being a student in the internet age has such humongous pros and cons. First, a wealth of information and research right at my fingertips. Not to mention Sparknotes, EasyBib and Youtube instructional videos. On the other hand, though, all this info and research calls for many social networking breaks.

    But as far as productivity on a plane, I just can’t relate — that’s my prime movie-watching, peanut-and-orange-juice snacking, seat-back-table-napping time. Flying is a special occasion not to be consumed with boring old work (homework, in my case).

  38. try ommWriter. it’s a free software and you can loose all the distractions turning down the sound effects and you have a beautiful screen, that can be plan white as well (there are some other ones, with nature and some other things, that also catch me attention and in a minute I’m wondering where it is, or what fruit grows there)

    • That’s great. A distraction free writing program that can actually distract you if you’re not careful. I love it.

  39. This made me laugh! Also, I found you through Freshly Pressed (congrats)….but crazily my Dad graduated from W.S. last year- his name is Bob S. and my mom works there as well, her name is Arlyee. How random is that!? haha! I enjoyed the post, thanks.

    • Hey, glad you found it! Bob and Arlyee are great people. Sad to see your dad graduate, but we still see him around here every now and then.

  40. What is this obsession with productivity?

    5 year plan in 3 years! – resulted in the collapse of the USSR.

    What happened to chillax?!

  41. I would never think to just turn off my wifi. That’s pretty brilliant! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  42. Anita M. King

    For Mac users, WriteRoom is a great distraction free writing program.

  43. sallyjeangenter

    Love, love, love this post! Brute-honest truth packaged in humor. This writer’s booking a strew of flights thanks to you.

  44. Really good post – thank you! I used to turn my wireless router off when I was writing, or (back in the old days) only enable my laptop for internet when it was plugged in to the router. Both good workarounds (as long as there isn’t anyone else in who needs the wifi)…

  45. i don’t know if i have the willpower to try this out…we shall see.

  46. Great post about productivity! I found myself at a coffee shop earlier today, trying desperately to do work with no luck. I already had my husband change my password on facebook to keep me off that distracting site, but somehow I find other nonproductive things to fill my time on the internet. I will try turning off the wifi on my laptop next time (or better yet, finding a coffee shop without free wifi!). Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  47. Great post regarding air travelling. thank you.

  48. I guess an airplane is the ideal place to work! so why not travel everyday? LOL!
    loved the post btw!

  49. If I’d followed your suggestions, I’d never have come across your article 🙂 or should it be 😦

  50. Very cool tips. I will most certainly remember these!

  51. Another great place to work: Your Local Public Library! Yes, that old-fashioned Carnegie Library on the corner. There’s no double-caramel latté or chocolate-caramel/oh-just-one/I swear beckoning. No one to talk to but that dirty old geezer in the raincoat snoring and drooling on the Christian Science Monitor and that librarian who talks so loud she embarrasses YOU. Pick your favorite spot, and that will be the Magic Spot. Kind of like your brother’s bathroom in England or your sister’s bathroom on the Upper East Siude where you always can take a good, well, you know what I mean. So in a way, I am glad Virgin America charges $13 for internet service — except during Christmastime, when I get a craving for doing what seems like a miracle and sending instant photos from the plane to Facebook.

    But this is inspiring. And I have become addicted to Words With Friends on my iPhone lately too which has wreaked utter havoc on my horrible sense of time.

    I’m going to the Library now. Thanks!

    • Okay, I’m going to have to try this more often. I ditched libraries a while ago because most of them wouldn’t let me bring my coffee in. (Did I mention that coffee is an important part of the equation?) But, maybe it’s worth a shot again.

  52. Hi Marc, how about no phone, that must help also. Great post I will try it.


  53. Good ideas! I have found that I need to work in complete isolation in order to really get anything done. I literally have to walk into our dining room, turn off my email, and write my paper. Maybe I should just buy tickets and fly around the country when a paper is due…

  54. Great article…Sometimes, when doing my Bible reading and study, I pack all my study gear into the car and head over the Surfer’s Point here in Ventura. The surf and surfers are sometimes distracting, but I am amazed at how much studying I get done. I find my study sessions are so much nicer when I am outside…even so, the IPhone is so distracting, especially when you have the WordPress App and are constantly checking your site.
    Congrats on being pressed.

  55. Useful tips! Great post! Thank you for your sharing.

  56. I can get a lot of stuff done on an airplane but it depends on who is sitting next to me. Sometimes the person next to me can just be too annoying to concentrate, or the kid behind me kicking my seat may be driving me nuts, all that. But, I can get a late of stuff done sometimes on an airplane because of all of the benefits you stated with the lack of distractions sometimes.

  57. …I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again…

    A well-written post with excellent advice. I left my airplane job so I could write and now I’ll have to pretend I’m on a plane so I can write.

  58. I really like this post. It might help me in my everyday life.

    Thank you!

  59. By pretending you’re on an airplane….that’s certainly something I could try!

  60. carleennimrod

    Exactly what I needed to read today! Thanks for the great post!

  61. I recommend the time management system called The Pomodoro Technique. There’s a website (of course!) and a nice iPad app, but basically stick to this rule: set a timer and work without interruption for 25 minutes, then break for 5, repeat x 3. After 2 hours (= your plane trip) have a longer break. Repeat.

    Dead simple, and very effective. Called Pomodoro because its Italian inventor had a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato!

  62. I loved your post! I’m the master when it comes to distraction. If its not the wi fi then it’s the movies and songs on my laptop,or the occasional drop ins, or just mentally flying away and day dreaming ( usually happens when I’m working on something that am not interested in).

    But I agree that having no where to go and nothing to do is the best way to keep anyone occupied with their work .

    Really nice post, oh! and congrats on being Freshly Pressed

  63. This is such a great tactic.You are really amazing! Why didn’t it occur to me! Thank you for sharing this information with us.I will definitely apply it next time.

  64. Once we had a project at school about living with no phones. Students could barely make it through the day and we had to interrupt it in the early stages as the school psychologist couldnt cope with all the work haha
    cool post, loved it

  65. Do you make airplane noises while working in airplane mode? It seems appropriate.

  66. Very interesting advice! I was already aware of the fact that you are less productive when you have wifi. Your blog post gave me the push that I needed so I can apply it and be more productive!

    Thank you!

  67. YES! I love and hate the internet because of how much I allow it to slow down my productivity. I also checked out the 7 Habits of Serious Writers you suggested at the bottom of your post. Habit #2 explains this post, and I can completely relate =) Thanks for writing!

  68. The distraction free writing programme mostly works for me, I tend to use OmWriter. As for my phone, at least three days a month I switch it off completely. As much as I appreciate modern technology the fact that you can be contacted at absolutely any time can become an annoyance. Anyway, great post!

  69. Marc

    Great writing, I try to always come up with ways to keep myself on target but like you have to many electronic toys to lure me away.
    As I have been writing about goals this week, I’m still facing such distractions at times. So thanks for your post, I needed another way to look at how to solve this.

    Rock on

  70. I really enjoyed this article. I am a writer myself and I can find distractions just about anywhere.I think it was Peter de Vries who said … I love writing.I just can’t stand the paperwork.
    I can’t work on the move unfortunately and I really don’t know why.

  71. To continue … I do quite like working in small places though. My writing room is under the stairs. When I can’t sleep then I imagine myself in a space capsule and this helps me to sleep … very weird.
    Submarines and aircraft cockpits seem to work as well.

  72. i’m with you on this one too! I am struggling with my concentration at work (as this post now also proves) … I don’t think that your tipps would help me though 😦

  73. Well, you could always renovate your garage into a Hangar and import a piper cup….

    Nice Piece!

    spread the

  74. awesome article! the internet is always a source of distraction for us and eliminating it for the period of time in which we work does increase productivity tremendously! 😀

  75. The Debt Whisperer

    If only her friends knew my wife was spending thirty minutes to an hour on the toilet using Facebook on the iPad. Talk about cutting into your life when a potty break takes that long.

  76. I guess I’m not the only one who got distracted from my work to read this post. Good post, though!

  77. Good tips =) Congratulations on the freshly pressed =)

  78. Great post! Thanks for writing it. Anyone can apply this to their work day!

  79. such a great post! the internet is probably my number one distraction…and having an iphone now makes it even worse, being constantly attached to e-mail, facebook newsfeeds…

    but we CAN disconnect. i’m totally going to turn my phone/ wifi on my laptop for a few hours a day to get work done…(music writing mostly)

    everything in moderation, right? 🙂

  80. I don’t know how anyone can concentrate sitting in a cramped seat with no leg room and screaming children, trying to balance a drink in your hand without spilling it all over (oops they no longer give out drinks, do they?). Sorry I have been on a plane in several years, and I work just fine from home. Just because I have a phone, internet and whatever else at my disposal, doesn’t mean that I HAVE to be using them every second of the day. I would think that takes more discipline than jumping on a plane just to avoid them

  81. When I’m too overly engrossed in things around me I go to a nice bookstore. Even though they are usually busy places for some reason being engulfed in books helps me write. Great post.

  82. This is seriously intresting stuff, I don’t have much work to do right now but when I’m doing my summer homework or just trying to have some me time I think I might try this out. I have the worst time focusing and not being distracted by Facebook or my cell phone buzzing every five minutes. I hope this works for you (and me)!

  83. Some really good points and reminders. Will be giving some a try!

  84. I fly more than 100,000 miles on average per year so I too know how productive plane time can be. I attribute the productivity influx to the constant engine humming… seems to decrease my ADD. 😉

  85. Interesting! I have to try your advice how to increace productivity at work.

  86. I love how I am decreasing my productivity just by reading this article… LOL! Although since I am reading about how to be more productive, maybe the decrease in productivity is canceled out… hmm…

  87. Nice title. I wonder if by the same reasoning prison is a very creative place. (B. Russell claimed it was).

  88. So true. It is just hard to get in that mental state to “turn everything off” that would otherwise be a distraction. Great tips. My flights this week I read an entire book – Thank You Economy – and I wrote about 10 pages of content for blogs, webinars, and services.

  89. Clever, enjoyable and wise words. One of the most natural writers I’ve ever seen.
    Suellen Ocean

  90. Great post. What about some airplane white noise through some headphones?

  91. Stimulating piece, thanks

    I have had similar benefit working in a parked car and travelling by train, and sometimes the very best comes when you go back to real basics with nothing more than a notebook and pen and silence. I mean a paper notebook by the way!

  92. biscuitskill3t

    That was hilarious! Great way of putting it. This’ll come in handy for tech-addicts! Well done!

  93. I love this! Brilliant. And so true.

  94. This is awesome! I would definitely try this. 🙂

  95. What an innovative and most creative get-work-done-idea! 😀

  96. This is so so so true! I get a pile of my photoshoot images beautifully and speedily edited when the internet goes down. It’s hard as a lot of my actual job NEEDS the internet, for uploading galleries and Facebook business page updates, and professional Twittering. Luckily I do a lot of transatlantic flights. I think we all need to be more sympathetic when we cannot contact people immediately too … we all need to switch off our phones regularly to get our masterpieces completed.

  97. I don’t get any work done on planes. I usually get work done in the airports.
    On the plane, tis a different story. I’m naturally chatty and tend to meet new people on the flights. If I’m really tired-usually from overwork the weeks before-I just go to sleep.

  98. I actually get extremely bored on an airplane. Does this say something about my generation? Or maybe it’s just because I’m still working on landing that entry-level job (unfortunately) so there’s nothing very important I have to do.

  99. Having just done some very focused work on a plane, I quite agree! Insightful post. I wonder if there’s also something about air travel that still kindles some possibility of adventure – this notwithstanding the security, terrible food, etc. Flying can drive me nuts, but I recognize that, on an airplane, I’m also a little out of time, suspended from my normal roles for at least the duration of the flight, and thus maybe a little more engaged and creative than in my normal routine…. The trick is to bring the same energy and imagination to my regular routine, so I get all the benefits of that mindset, with the blessing of decent food too!

  100. So true. I found when I was in college, I could get done two nights worth of work if I found a secluded desk in the corner of the school library and stay there from the time of my last afternoon class until dinner. I would not allow myself to leave until either A) all my work was finished, or B) it was 4:30 and time to make my way back to my room for a little “me” time before dinner.

  101. I totally agree with this one! I don’t really travel as often as you do, but I do have my happy place. It’s the male faculty locker room which is just adjacent to our main faculty room. WiFi barely reaches that place. People come in, but never really to linger long.

    In fact, I should be doing other things now, but instead I’m replying to your post. That’s because I’m at my desk.

  102. Awesome post, Marc, and a great reminder.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about writing.

  103. I love this. I need to start turning my wireless off when I study Chinese…

  104. Thinks I mostly do is going to a libary. Here in Holland there is only wifi if you pay for it. So that’s easy, no internet and you have to be quiet, so no chat. Only the bad part is that you can’t drink some coffee or drinks. Eating is forbidden as well. And when you need the bathroom you have to take all your stuff before someone else takes it for you. I don’t often go with a plane but most off the time a travel by train. It’s pretty easy, no wifi (They are trying to offer it now but it still don’t work) but many people are chatting to eachter ore to me 😦 and the train is not quiet normale, it’s moving all around. When I working at hom I just pull out the internet cabel 🙂 hihi. Good luck and you have some nice blogs !

  105. i love to work during traveling. of course it’s because my job is writing – traveling is very inspiring for it and working during flying… is much more enjoyable than watching “flying moviers”…

  106. Ha! These are so true! Although airplanes are perfect places to be productive, it’s also the perfect place to catch some sleep. And well, when I start sleeping, I don’t seem to want to wake up until I’ve reached my destination. So, with that, I don’t think I’m tend to be very productive on a plane despite the lack of internet and other distractions. The temptation to sleep is just too strong!

  107. True, there is something about work efficiency when flying. The flights that offer internet as an option are the best for me as much of my work is done online. Just wish that overseas flights had it available too.

    – Kelly

  108. Not sure if this has been mentioned, but this simple program is named “Freedom” for a reason:

    It works for PC’s now too.

  109. Good luck… lord knows there are a million and one distractions to way-lay us.

  110. Great Post! It’s very easy for me to get distracted, so the recommendations are good. One thing though…. lots of my work involve research in the web.

    A good way I found to keep my distraction to the minimum is by using Ubuntu. I leave one desktop for emails and IM services, another one for “my stuff” (not really work hehe) and I keep the work in one desktop.

    Although the temptation is one click away…. I keep myself focus in the current desktop until is truly necessary to jump to the next one.

  111. I can totally relate to how the internet is such a distraction from writing. And smart phones, they are great but you are always connected to the world which is not so good when you just want a little bit of inspiration to get your idea on the page. I tried Evernote as well, but even this was too much temptation to keep checking Twitter or email and so I use the old fashioned pen and paper.

    Totally agree about coffee shops. They are wonderful places to write.

  112. Magnetic Entrepreneurial Skills

    That sounds like a good idea.You definitely can get more work done on your computer when flying. If you can drop in to my blog you will find it every rewarding :

  113. This post is a testament to poor discipline as far as I’m concerned.

    • You’re a tool Fred. You might be disciplined, but you’re a tool. Why? Because you ignore that people are different and that different situations, stimuli, information processing, etc. means different outcomes for different people. Try not trolling for a week and I’ll bet your fuzzy little head explodes.

  114. One thing I didn’t see mentioned in the comments is for those who would rather not use a completely separate app to write, or would like to keep to word format, there is a plugin for MS Word 2003/7/10 called WriteSpace. I just downloaded it and it puts an option in the View tab called (ubiquitously) writespace. It switches to a clear black screen with text of the font and colour of your choosing, and lets you revert to Word environment whenever you need to with ESC. No, I am not affiliated or connected with it’s development.

  115. Great post. I find it easier to not have my phone on me until I get work done.

  116. Sometimes I pretend a am the airplane. It’s best to pretend outside where you have plenty of space, otherwise your airplane wings can cause all kinds of problems.

  117. Interesting idea, thanks!

  118. I love this. I work from home and find myself constantly distracted. Unfortunately I think it has more to do with not having any work to do, but if ever I get any, I will refer back to these tips!

  119. Taufik Nur Yahya

    Having read all of comments on your post here, suddenly I’m glad I’m not the only one -alive- who has distraction issue. Haha. Nice post, by the way

    I think you should also write about how to kill procrastination. I have the idea already and I’ll write it right away.. soon.. later.. tonight.. tomorrow morning. Yes tomorrow morning when I’m at my peak, I’ll write how to kill procrastination.. not today.

  120. nice post dear 🙂

  121. Such good points. Great article!thanks

  122. If only I could afford going on planes every day. And I would love to go to a coffee shop, but I’m afraid the country doesn’t offer any.

    But thanks for the tip about the full screen mode, that might truly help me.

  123. I use Airplane mode all the time, especially when it came to me having to revise for finals. However, whenever I’m on airplanes, it has been for holiday and I am able to sleep it off. Hopefully next time I can write some blog articles to be posted later.

    Great article.

  124. realanonymousgirl2011

    I have Evernote, but haven’t used it, I’ll have to try it now. Thanks! For me the most productive I ever was writing was on the subway (Metro in LA). I would put on my head phones open a notebook and start writing. 30 minutes I wrote pages and the time just flew by!

  125. My problem is I always have a white knuckle death grip on the arms of my airline seat… Oh well, good advice on cutting yourself off to work though… Maybe I’ll use a train analogy 😉

  126. I think Evernote is great too. Hi5!!

  127. Awesome tips! Thank you.

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