I am more creative at 30,000 ft!

By Younas Chaudhary

Sitting on a long-haul flight can improve your creative thinking, says R. Keith Sawyer, PhD, an associate professor of education and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. I am the type who enjoys working on long haul flights and agree with Dr. Sawyer that they boost creativity.

Younas Chaudhary

I like to be seated on an aisle seat with my laptop open. I take a customary nap during take-off and touch down time. I begin serious work once the flight reaches an altitude of around 30,000 feet. The longer the flight, the more work I get done! I often enjoy long haul flights to Hawaii purely because of being alone, an idle time to get some serious work done. There is no one to distract you, except for the sound of plane engines, that’s the white noise and my mind gradually forgets after some time. I rarely watch a movie or listen to music, instead, I focus on getting work done in pure solitude. There is no one else to disturb me as I am high up in the air!

Over the years, I have made some of my best decisions while on a plane, especially those related to controlling costs, buying new deals, writing books and blogs. The solitude of being in the air, relaxed with no distractions in unfamiliar surroundings helps me make good productive decisions.

According to Dr. Sawyer, reading a book or watching a movie may help fill up time on the plane but the idle time in a plane can be a key ingredient to becoming more creative in your personal and professional lives. This environment helps clarify the mind as you go through multiple projects, deadlines and helps you focus on what’s most important.

I am an introvert by nature, I rarely engage in conversations with co-passengers, except for the customary hello. Then, my mind goes back to work. This loneliness or feeling of isolation and anonymity is a boon when focusing on work during flights. One other advantage is the spotty internet connection which does not distract you from offline work projects, making you less tempted to surf the web and freer to focus on your work.

Overall, I feel the combination of reduced distractions, relaxation, unfamiliar surroundings, and time for reflection on long flights creates the ideal environment for generating new ideas.

I like working on long haul flights, though my co-workers find it added work for them. My flights to Hawaii mean more tasks to accomplish, leaving more reminders and more deadlines for my coworkers on the ground! Stay Blessed.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.

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