Planes and Productivity

A super goofy picture of myself prior to boarding a plane from Indianapolis to Houston. July 2013.

I have a deep-seated ambivalence about the advent of WiFi on flights.

As mentioned when describing my travel routine, I spend my time in the air writing: proposals for work, posts for this blog, scenes in fiction. In fact, I wrote a huge chunk of my first full novel manuscript on flights to and from a family vacation.

Planes keep us captive.

Flights stick you in a seat for at least an hour—and typically far longer than that. Without Internet or cell access, you have nothing but the blank page. (Just remember to download needed files before you get off the ground.)

Yet an airplane’s advantages for productivity go beyond lacking Internet, phone calls, and text messages:

  • You can’t obsess about banana-nut bread on the kitchen counter or muse on whether this exact moment would prove a great time to try baking molten chocolate cake.
  • A friend can’t unexpectedly show up at the café and sit down to chat.
  • Limited lines of sight help prevent pondering about how to finagle conversation with the cute guy in the corner.
  • No one will pop in to ask a question or send you a last-minute meeting request.
  • You won’t wonder whether you should leave your desk for some team “face time.”

I may need to plan a trip to China or Australia and back, simply for the sheer productivity value.

What places give you the greatest focus?