The Most Efficient Ways to Get Work Done on an Airplane

Anyone who’s spent sufficient time at 30,000 feet can tell you that there are two types of travelers: those who use their time in the air to lounge, and those who recognize it as an opportunity to log work hours without the distractions of a typical office.  For the latter, air travel can provide the perfect environment in which to expeditiously knock out some of those tasks you just know you won’t get to on your own time, but finding the sweet spot for working on a plane takes some preparation. From investing in the right technology to timing your trip right, here’s how to make the airplane your second office.

Invest in noise-canceling headphones: Perhaps the single best piece of advice for those eager to make the airplane their second office is to invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. While flights are often full of loud announcements, crying babies, and seatmates eager to comment on the in-flight movie choices, a pair of noise-canceling headphones can keep all of those distractions to a minimum.

Prep your space: While home may offer plenty of space to spread out, from spacious in-home offices to communal work space, like the library lounge at Manhattan luxury tower 53 West 53rd Street, airplanes aren’t exactly known for being roomy. To make sure you can work efficiently on the plane without having to reach for your bag every two minutes, bring a few accessories that will make it easier to turn your seat into a sky-high office. Use the seatback pocket to hold documents, make use of the tray table as a desk, and keep any odds and ends, like pens or paperclips, in a pencil case tucked into your seat.  

Plan around the flight schedule: Knowing when you’re allowed to use your electronics can make a huge difference in how much work you actually get done on the plane. Instead of starting your work and having to close up shop when the stewardess says so, wait until you’ve reached cruising altitude to bring out your computer — otherwise, you’ll only waste time packing and unpacking it.

Make yourself comfortable: Airplanes may not be as comfortable as a traditional office, but there are plenty of ways keep working on one from being torturous. Bringing little accoutrements that make things easier and more comfortable, like an inflatable neck pillow, wrist rest, or even just your reading glasses to use when your contacts start feeling dry, can keep you from burning out.  

Give yourself a break: Being productive on a plane doesn’t mean keeping your nose to the grindstone from takeoff to landing. Taking a few breaks to stretch your legs, have some water, or reading a chapter of a book, can help spur your creativity and keep the temptation of in-flight movies and duty-free shopping at bay.

Don’t let those precious hours on the plane go wasted. Taking just a few small considerations before boarding can make even the most turbulent trip the perfect opportunity to get some extra work hours in. Happy travels!

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