Productive on a Plane

2009 July 24

Morning at the airport
Creative Commons License photo credit: Michal Osmenda

If you’re like us, work requires you to take a trip every now and then. Or, if you’re like us, you find yourself needing to do a bit of work, even while on vacation to exotic locales.

So, in an effort to help you maximize your time, stay productive and stay balanced at 30,000 feet in the air, here are our 10 tips for in-air (or in-airport) productivity.

In the airport

  1. Find a quiet spot. While it’s impossible to escape the announcements and cellphone conversations that ravage your peace and quiet, you can minimize it by sitting at a gate without a flight scheduled soon. Add some headphones and don’t face the walking areas of the concourse and you might just limit distraction enough to get the job done.
  2. Have your carry-on bags packed with a high level of organization and a low level of stuff. This not only makes it easier to speed through the bag screening, but you won’t waste any time searching through a wasteland of paperwork to find what you’re looking for. Light is better for your back, too, and you won’t have to worry about finding a spot overhead for a giant bag.
  3. When you’re packing your carry-on, dedicate one small section or pocket for the things that normally reside in your pants pockets. As you’re in line for the metal detectors, empty everything in your pockets into that section. As soon as you’re through, back in the pants it all goes. Being able to do this on the fly saves lots of time and aggravation.
  4. Resist the urge to chow down. Airport food is famously unhealthy and expensive. Not only will you have to make up for those extra calories and cash, but any time you spend waiting in line is a waste, too. If you simply have to have something, then go with coffee, fruit, or something pre-made. You’ll save cash, calories, and minutes.
  5. Hit the bathroom on the way to get your luggage. Everyone’s in such a hurry to get from the jetway to the baggage carousel, but all you’re going to do there is wait some more. A better use of your time and the facilities? Make a quick dash for the loo en route to your bags.

In the air

  1. Save your magazines for pre-flight and pre-10,000 feet. Since you can’t listen to your iPod or boot up your laptop yet (and since you don’t want to listen to pre-flight announcements), this is a perfect time to catch up on the latest Fast Company or Wired. So, if you have a trip coming in the next two weeks, resist the urge to read magazines at home so you’ll better use your time in your seat.
  2. Signal to your seatmate that you mean business. If you’re going to be working during the flight, your initial introduction to the folks on your row of seats should be straightforward. Just say hello, then immediately buckle your seat belt and open a book, legal pad, laptop, etc. This – unlike a newspaper – projects that you’re going to be working on the flight. You won’t make any friends this way, but you’ll gain valuable minutes.
  3. Have the laptop ready to go. Make sure it’s fully charged and on standby so when you hear that magic ding while passing through 10,000 feet, you’ll be able to crack it open and get started. Feel free to also have documents or presentations already open. Sure, we’re only talking about minutes, but minutes matter.
  4. Drink water; save the snacks. You don’t want a bunch of food crowding that already tiny seat-back tray. Drink a cup of water to stay fresh and go ahead and accept the free peanuts. Just save them for when it’s time to put the laptop away or when you’re waiting to get off the plane.
  5. Not using a laptop in flight? Then make a plan for what you’re reading or writing. Strategy matters just as much when it comes to analog work as it does digital work. So, if you’re reading reports first, have them ready to rock at takeoff. Or, if you’re penning a speech, make sure pad and paper are at the ready so you can use every precious moment of flight.

By maximizing your time at the airport and in flight, you’ll save time when you get to where you’re going, allowing you to relax and explore your destination.

(Note: A special thanks to my world-traveling friend Ben. He’s been to more countries than most people and knows what he’s talking about when it comes to travel. He’s thinking of blogging. I hope this post is the tipping point, showing him that he could knock it out of the park.)

Tell us: What do you do to stay productive while flying or getting ready to fly?

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • Delicious
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • LinkedIn
  • FriendFeed
  • Squidoo
  • Technorati Favorites
  • Share/Bookmark
One Response leave one →
  1. 2009 July 27
    George Junginger permalink

    One thing that is a big deal for me is the american express platinum card. The yearly fee is steep ($350 or $450) but if you are spending a lot of time in airports, it’s worth it. One of its benefits is free admittance to the airline clubs of different carriers. Certainly not all of them, but I have used it constantly on American and Delta. In this age of getting to the airport a couple hours early, delays, etc., the peace and quiet it buys is worth it to me.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline