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How to Work on a Laptop on a Bus, Plane or Train

One of the best changes that technology has recently brought about, is that we now have the ability to work from anywhere. That means that if you can convenience your boss to let you, you can do your job from a beach in the Bahamas and be no less productive. Alternatively, if you are willing to take the plunge and become self-employed, then you’ll be able to accomplish this even more easily, and even be earning money while you drink in a Tokyo bar or relax on a hammock.

That’s living the dream at its best, but unfortunately there are a couple of challenges that you’ll have to contend with if you want to reach this point. One of the most significant of those challenges? Simply managing to concentrate while you’re on a crowded train or at the back of a noisy bar. How do you immerse yourself in the technology and forget all that background noise? Here are some options…


The biggest distraction when you work on a laptop in a crowded area is the noise from other people. If you’re on a train then you’ll no doubt often hear people behind you complaining about their colleagues or rowing and it’s very hard not to be interested and start eavesdropping.

The solution then is to always bring noise-cancelling headphones and to put them on so that you can drown out that noise and remove the temptation. If your music isn’t enough to remove the distraction though, then another thing to try is ‘Coffitivity’. Coffitivty is a website that provides you with an infinite loop of ‘background chatter’ as you might expect to hear in a crowded place. It works brilliantly because it masks the sounds that you may find distracting rather than trying to completely drown them out. It’s also apparently a very good noise for productivity in general.


A trick I often use when working in crowded areas is to load up a video on my computer and to watch it on silent. This should be either a film that I know very well, or something that has no narrative – like footage of a computer game, or people doing free running/dancing. This works incredibly well, because it’s entertaining enough to keep me focussed (I can touch-type, so no need to look at the keys). I’m focussed on the screen now rather than things happening around me, but because the material isn’t too engaging, it’s not enough to distract me from what I should be thinking about.


Finally, it’s very important to consider your comfort when working. The best way to solve this is to rent a bus in which case you’ll be able to call the shots with regards to where you sit etc. If that doesn’t work though, then you should try to get a seat with a table and lots of leg room, or at the very least a window seat so that you can lean up against the wall.

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How to Work on a Laptop on a Bus, Plane or Train
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