I love working in airports. Yes, there are crowds. There’s noise. There may be a crying baby next to me – but I have some of my peak productivity when I’m sitting in an airport terminal, waiting for a flight. It doesn’t matter where it is (as long as it isn’t O’Hare) or whether it’s a 6am or 11pm trip – as long as I have my headphones in and an internet connection, I can whiz through my work.
One reason that airports are a prime place for productivity for me is that almost all the noise is background noise. I know one thing to listen for: my flight is boarding. I’m pretty lucky in that a lot of my travel is flexible, so delays don’t tend to bother me very much. I can tune out just about all the noise of other passengers waiting, and for the most part, the only sounds other than the occasional announcement blend together into a hum of white noise that isn’t distracting. For the times where I am faced with a particularly obnoxious passenger yelling into a phone next to me, I can either pick up my backpack and head to another seat, or put in headphones and stream music.
Another reason that airports tend to be high on my list of productive places to work is the lack of distractions. You have the excuse of flying to turn off your phone, close your email, and just focus on one task. At the office, even closed doors don’t block out phone calls, meetings, and people dropping by to ask questions, but in an airport, you aren’t likely to have people chatting you up and interrupting your work flow. If you do happen to sit by a chatty stranger, there’s always that convenient “move to another seat or put on music” escape.
I tend to arrive at airports about 2 hours earlier than my flight, and the majority of the time, this means I have about 1.5 hours in the terminal. With boarding being 15-30 minutes earlier than the scheduled departure time, I can normally get one solid hour of work in. It’s fairly simple to plop down in a seat, get connected to the (usually free) wifi, and immediately open up Eclipse or Word and get right to a project. I know that I have a certain amount of time before I need to start thinking about packing up, with the added bonus of being equipped with a smoothie, latte, snack, or bottle of water from a nearby shop.
The seats are normally more comfortable than sitting at a table in Starbucks, there’s a huge variety of drinks/food to pick, I (almost always) get free, decently reliable internet, my work time is nicely partitioned into workable chunks, and (in my experience) it’s pretty much an interruption-free zone. What’s not to love?