Ben Brown
Ben Brown


Expert • May 2017

How to boost productivity on a long-haul flight

Around 90 decibels of engine noise, hundreds of chatting passengers and sudden spots of turbulence – not everyone’s idea of a productive space – but if you tune out the distractions, a long-haul flight offers a great chance to catch up on work. Journalist and frequent flyer Ben Brown shares his essential tricks, tips and apps to help you get in the zone

Filter out the noise

Being productive is all about tuning out distractions and creating your own ‘Zen’ space. Noise-cancelling headphones are ideal for blocking out a noisy jumbo jet. Take it from a compulsive audiophile – the Sony MDR-1000X (£360) are the best money can buy. Plug into some instrumental music and you’ll forget all about the screaming toddler in aisle 14.

Sony MDR-1000X

Pick up a pencil

Did you know the average person spends almost eight hours a day looking at a screen? Try giving your eyes a break and go back to basics with a pen and paper. If you still love your gadgets, the new ReMarkable paper tablet (pre-order £352) will be a godsend. It’s easier on the eyes than an iPad, and feels like writing on a notebook. With 100,000 digital pages, you’ll never run out of space either.


Gain control of your to-do list

We all struggle to keep our to-do list in check, but with hours of free time ahead, you can wrestle back control. There’s no shortage of organisational apps available for phones, but two of my favourites include Things (iOS only, £9.99), a sleek and simple task manager, and OmniFocus (iOS only, £32), a more complex app for when you need to restore order to the chaos.

Things App

Get inspired

Productivity isn’t just about putting words on paper, it’s about learning new skills and unlocking creative ideas. A long-haul flight is a great excuse to catch up on hours of inspiring TED Talks. The new TED Conferences App (iOS and Android, free) has 2,000 motivational speeches and inspirational stories. It might trigger your next great idea. Or you could use the time to get lost in a good book.


Don’t forget the juice

Few things are worse than running out of battery just as you’re getting into the zone. Make sure you don’t get caught out with a RAVPower 20100mAh portable charger ($74.99), giving your laptop an extra five hours of juice.


Blue-sky thinking

There’s nothing like flying at 35,000 feet to give you some perspective. My advice? Keep that dense report in your bag and get creative instead. Use the flight time to make plans, brainstorm new ideas and think about the bigger picture.

In Flight

This article has been tagged Opinion, Travel Tips