Whether you’re flying for work, pleasure, or something in between, no one appreciates the hours wasted in travel time. When you’re on a long flight, you can’t even turn the radio up, roll the windows down, and sing along to your favorite classic rock songs. But that doesn’t mean that you have to declare those hours lost. Change your mindset towards long flights, take a couple of easy preflight steps, and you’ll be well on your way to making the most of your time in the sky.
Before the flight
Half of the battle is just going into your flight with the right equipment and the right mindset. First, make sure that you have a way to stay connected. Your devices should be charged and keep those charging cords and power banks in your carry on luggage (after ensuring they follow the airline’s ever-stricter rules about sizing and power capacity). If you really need to get some work done in the airport, consider shelling out a few extra bucks for a mobile hotspot. You won’t love the addition to your phone bill every month, but you’ll appreciate never having to worry about the shady airport WiFi again. But just because you’re connected doesn’t mean you’ll be productive. Make a detailed work schedule before you even begin your trip to get the most out of your precious minutes.
Once you’re in the airport and have trudged your way through security lines, it’s time to find a place to settle down. If you’ve been there before, you might have an idea going in about where the best outlet-laden hangouts are: is there a Starbucks with tables? A Chili’s that will let you hang out and munch chips for hours with the purchase of a small quesadilla? Check out Foursquare before your arrival if you don’t have a clue and let the online tips lead you in a productive direction.
If you’re an experienced flyer, you already know what flying does to your body and brain. Some people are able to focus on big tasks in the air, but you might want to save those intense e-mails or books full of meeting notes for when you’re back on solid ground. Use your in-flight time to catch up on some lighter reading, brainstorm ideas for an upcoming meeting, or skim one or two lighter e-mails as you speed to your destination.
Deciding to work on the plane is ambitious, not least of all because of limited or absent WiFi connectivity. Make absolutely sure that your work will save, whether that’s paying extra for in-flight WiFi or saving all of your edited materials to Dropbox.
Even the most frequent of fliers may not consider how their in-flight behaviors affect their productivity during and after flights. Stay away from alcohol while flying — that wine may be delicious at the moment, but the dehydration and sluggishness won’t help when the wheels touch down. Also, if at all possible, snag yourself an aisle seat. You’ll be able to get up and stretch without worrying about bothering the people next to you, and that will contribute to your physical comfort as well as your mental peace of mind.
Put your flight time to work
Whether you fly twice a year or twice a week, you can make your flight time work for you. With the right amount of preparation, a focused mindset, and a couple of tricks, you’ll be getting more work done than you ever thought possible. Maybe you’ll even do so much work on this flight that there will be nothing to work on on the next.