Airplane Productivity Hacks: Get the Most Done in the Air
Power up your productivity!
How good is your productivity on the road? If you travel for business you’ll spend lots if time in airplanes. Planes can be great places to work; the office can’t reach you and you can concentrate. Or can you? After logging millions of working miles, I know that working on a plane can be incredibly productive – or a total waste. Use these proven strategies to make the most of your airtime.
Choose Your Medium
Digital is not always best. Booting up and shutting down are non-productive activities. Why waste scarce flight time on something that reduces your productivity? Some work is better done with pen and paper. I read articles, edit documents, even write blog posts – including this one – the old-fashioned way. Consider your own work habits when deciding whether to work on paper or digitally.
Set A Time Limit
Set a limit on how long you will work. Remember that we focus best in 60-90 minute increments. Try to structure your work around that. Work for one 60 minute session, then take a 5-10 minute break. Stand up, stretch your legs, arms and back. I usually work until my battery runs out, or 4 hours maximum on a long-haul flight. Don’t try to work the whole flight. Save some time for relaxing and creativity hacks (read my recent post on creativity hacks you can do while flying for ideas).
Have Clear Goals
As with any job, you won’t finish if you don’t know where you are going! Pick some clear goals: Write the first draft of a presentation. Finish a memo. Clear your inbox. Review a report. Whatever your goals, make them specific. And make sure they can reasonably be completed in the time you have allotted. Completing something is the ultimate productivity boost!
Food and Drink
If you are fortunate enough to fly business class, or you are flying outside the US, refreshments are almost always available. And free alcohol is so tempting when you are stressed. It’s also a productivity killer (you know this already!). Here’s my advice: Eating? Yes, when they serve a meal, eat it (assuming it looks edible). Drinks? Water: Yes. Juice: Yes. Soda: if you must. Wine, beer and hard liquor? Not until the work is done!
Working on a plane is ergonomically terrible, especially in economy. The seats and armrests are narrow. The tray table is at the wrong height. You can’t stretch your legs. The light is too dim. You squint, hunch your shoulders, get a headache and muscle cramps. Don’t torture yourself or your body! Limit your time in that crunched up position, hunched over your tray table. Move around, stretch when you take a break, do the anti-DVT exercises in the flight magazine or use a tennis ball to soothe sore muscles.
Skype, Zoom and Webex notwithstanding, many of us are still on the road every week. And despite the myths of glamorous business travel, we work hard on these trips. Work wisely, too. Use your flight time wisely and see your productivity soar!