Being Productive Offline

shows a productivity of 89%
Rescue Time score from my flight

Normally I embrace flights as a chance to generally disconnect (who else is unenthused about in-flight wifi? Holla!). I read, sometimes I write, but I’m not too concerned about “achieving things”. Sometimes I try to find something to work on offline, typically at the last minute in the lounge and it’s not been very successful.

This last trip though… with so much going on and an 11 hour flight in business class (my travel agent got me a deal – yay!) I saw it as a chance to do some Real Work whilst disconnected. 

One thing I think we lose by living “in the cloud” is that our computers have become portals to other people’s data centres and without internet much of what we do day to day doesn’t work. So it’s important to be organised.

I finally figured out how to be effective offline.

  • In the week or so leading up to it, I started tagging things in my trello board with a label to mean that this could be done offline.
  • I organised my Google Drive, made sure things were shared with the right account (offline multi-account support is lacking) and sync’d the folders that I needed to my computer.
  • I don’t entirely trust Google Drive to work offline so I also downloaded reference things as a pdf as a backup (turns out: good decision).
  • The day before I went through my “offline” tagged things and moved them to a plain text document (Trello offline support is sketchy).
  • I collected things I needed (e.g. blog posts I’d written that I was building a talk from) with the list or in another plain text document.
  • I made sure my GitHub repos were sync’d to my laptop.

When I got on the plane I was good to go! Key things that made a difference:

  • I had a choice of things to do. Because I’d been organised I had around 5 significant projects to work on. I got through two. Turns out I was in the mood for refactoring, so I got through a bunch of coding tasks on Show and Hide, and then refreshed the slide deck for our workshop.
  • I’d identified a bunch of coding stuff that was really straight forward where I wouldn’t need to look things up.
  • I’m not usually a fan of “work on what I feel like” but having not had a huge amount of sleep, it was nice to take on a task that didn’t require me to be creative.
  • Noise cancelling headphones. I love these Bose ones (Amazon), but they are pricy.
  • Not gonna lie, being in business class. I had a little nap, and some delicious food, then feeling refreshed, I got to work.


  • The slide deck I put in the Google Drive folder, the next time I connected it sync’d to the cloud and Chiu-Ki could see it. No need to remember anything!
  • Code was a little tricker. I’d done a significant refactoring and branches had built on each other. I kept a list of what order they were in, and then spent around an hour creating and reviewing my own pull requests early the next morning (yay early morning jet lag productivity).
  • I caught up Trello on what I’d got done.
  • Because I had prepped more stuff than I had got through I am covered for a bunch more time offline! A lot of it falls under important but not urgent and it’s nice to have time to focus there. My next long-ish flight, I picked up where I left off and made some more progress.

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