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Whether you’re a seasoned road warrior or an occasional business traveler, you know the nagging feeling and associated lack of productivity that can come with business trips. One day we’ll be simply teleporting to out-of-town sales conferences and client meetings, but even then, we’ll be menaced with that sinking feeling that we should be doing something else.

Want to put your air-borne conscience at ease? Here are five tips for travel time well spent:

  1. To WiFi or not WiFi? That is the question- Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of over-priced and spotty connections…all right, you get the point. You might be better off ignoring the impulse to buy the in-flight connection. Your departure and arrival times are measured from gate-to-gate, respectively. You may be thinking that you have a three-hour flight to get some work done, but that probably isn’t the case. Just how limited will your laptop time be? Try subtracting approximately 30 minutes from each end of the flight to allow for taxiing and gaining the “all-clear” from the cabin crew (at minimum 10,000 feet in altitude). Now build in the very spotty nature of in-flight WiFi, and you may not be as productive as you think.
  2. Old School Rules – If you simply cannot ignore the urge to work in-flight, do it old-school. Pen and paper. Studies have shown the physical act of writing incurs creative, psychological and memorization benefits. Work on employee reviews, do some mind-mapping, develop new content ideas. By jotting it down on paper and working out the kinks, you will be saving yourself screen time later.
  3. Don’t Procrastinate – Like most of us, you can put fixing this character flaw on the back burner. Many of us look at flight time as a chance to “catch up” on some work that we’ve been avoiding. There are simply too many variables we cannot control that can leave us side-tracked and frustrated. Perhaps your seatmate has an uncontrollable urge to gab. Maybe you’re distracted by the constant bustling of the cabin crew as they move up and down the aisle offering you headphones, soft drinks, snacks, et cetera. Do your best to get that work done before your trip. A flight really is not “alone time” where you are free to wrap up loose ends.
  4. Your Network is Your Net Worth – Although you may be determined to close yourself off in an invisible bubble office and work feverishly to complete some task, always recognize the chance to expand your network. While you’re naturally courteous of your seatmate, never rule out the possibility of making new key business contacts. Chances are, the person next to you is also traveling for business and you may never again have the chance to make an introduction. Be open, but unobtrusive. You never know who you’re sitting next to until you ask. Always be sure to have your business cards at the ready (and always hand someone three of your cards¾one for them to keep, two for them to pass along to others).
  5. Relax – This is probably the most overlooked perk of business travel¾ your moment in the sun to completely relax and do nothing. Once you arrive at your destination, your itinerary will be packed. You may not get the chance to tune out again for some time. Your flight can be a golden opportunity to de-stress and mentally prepare for the challenging days ahead.

Although business travel may be a necessary part of your job, leave your productivity guilt at the gate. That’s baggage you can feel good about losing.


By: Denise D.

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