YOU decide how well you perform.

More Productive on a Plane

Chris Brogan
Mar 13, 2013 · 3 min read

Running your own company is this weird pastiche of doing what other people need you to do and finding yourself with a “well, NOW what?” kind of feeling more often than not. I’m a publisher, an author, a media company CEO, and a professional speaker. My role requires a lot of production. If I’m not sharing something I created, I’m not really here.

Lots of people tell me, “I got so much done the other day when I took a flight from New York to Dallas.” What they mean is simpler than booking a ride in a tin can. Shut off the damned wifi and do your work.


This one example is easy enough to understand. No wifi, no distractions. But usually work is a lot more complicated than that. My COO, Rob Hatch, is working on a 201 level version of his course, Work Like You’re On Vacation. In it, one of the first traits he’s going to teach is something called “re-entry.” You know when you head out for lunch with a client and chitty chat or whatever, and you come back to the desk? What’s the first thing you do? Check your email or look around on your social networks. Right?

That’s the least useful task. Getting back to the project that matters most would be a far better use of your time. Right? And we get it. We just don’t do it.

A long time ago, I was a cubicle worker. Cubicles are these fascinating spaces. People just wander in, ignoring all senses of privacy and personal space. “There’s no door,” people often say. One day, I took a bunch of masking tape and I made a door. Or more accurately, I made a tape “police line” across my doorway. I hung a note: “Working on something. Please bug me another time.”

The truth is, people still bugged me for a while. They thought it was funny. I stuck with it. Eventually, people didn’t bother me when the tape was across my cube unless it was pretty important. I got a lot more done.


The remote worker (we coined the term Workshifting for a client once) is someone who has to take charge of their work environment to get the results needed. Your hotel doesn’t have working wifi in your room? Wah. Tether with your smartphone; work in the lobby; change hotels. It’s not your clients’ fault. It’s not the team’s fault. It’s your responsibility and your privilege.

There’s TV distracting you? Unplug it until you can earn it. Oh, you’re righteous and don’t own a TV? But you’re surfing Reddit for hours? Turn off the damned wifi.

Work like you’re on the plane, or work like you’re on vacation, or whatever. But realize that it’s your world, and you decide the rules when you’re the remote worker.

Chris Brogan is president and CEO of Human Business Works.

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