Working on a plane can be a real challenge for the frequent business traveler. As road warriors we spend a great deal of time in an airplane. Given the frenetic life of the business traveler how do we keep on top of things while in transit?
When the business traveler is up in the air, the world doesn’t stop. Customers, employees, bosses, they all want a piece of us. And if you’ve spent more than 10 minutes in a job you know that email is a never ending saga. It just piles up!
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And then the presentations for the next day’s sales meeting, or the report your boss needs done. The business world keeps moving regardless of the fact your 28,000 feet above Salina, KS.
Working on Plane – Tips for Increased Productivity
In this article I look at the concept of staying productive while you travel. Here are some of areas I cover in this article about working on a plane:
- Keeping up with email
- Working on presentations / reports
- Dealing w/ employee stuff (expense reports, etc)
- Fighting boredom on the plane
Keeping up with email while you travel for work
When you travel for work you’ve basically got three choices when it comes to keeping up on your email:
- Ignore it – if they really need me they will call me (or IM me…)
- Do it at night in the hotel
- Try to keep up with it on the plane
I’ve employed all three techniques before with varying success, but lately I’ve been deferring to #1. Wi-fi is expensive on the plane and I don’t always have the energy to get it done at night in the hotel. And while I can check it on the phone pretty easily I usually don’t. And getting my laptop out is always a tight squeeze unless you got the upgrade to first class.
Here’s a few exceptions:
- If I know I have something important to work on (like a presentation) I will fire up the laptop and get it done, but ONLY if I have to. If it can wait, it does.
- If know that I have important correspondence en route that day (meaning I am expecting something with a short fuse) I will go ahead and connect to the Internet on the plane – but w/ my phone. Anything earth shattering can likely be solved via the small screen of my phone. Keep that laptop in the bag if you can.
Or…do what my old boss did recently. He got a small form factor tablet w/ a keyboard – something designed for small spaces. Now he can easily watch a movie, or do email w/ a screen that’s bigger than your phone. If he needs to do some word processing it’s no big deal. Working a plane just got a LOT easier for him.
So instead paying $15.00 for internet, I kick back and watch another episode of Better Call Saul. Or I will download podcasts and books related to my industry or business and read them. I use the plane time to learn! I actually try to avoid working on a plane whenever possible.
When I land, I spot check my email (to see if I really need to pull up the PC back at the hotel) and check my VMs and chats. We now use Google Chat which allows them to really get my attention (instead of an email) if they really need to.
Only for the high importance items will I pull up the PC and start hammering away when I get back to the hotel. If I can’t disposition it with a phone call or a return IM it may time to pull it up.
I am starting to wonder if I even need to bring that laptop anymore… 🙂
I’ve got into the habit of starting my expense reports while I travel. We use Concur for our travel system and their app (which is ok…a little crappy at times, but good enough) allows me to snap photos of my receipts and upload them immediately. I can then start my expense report during the trip. This makes it much easier to finalize it and submit in a timely manner when I get back.
More: Read the Dreaded Expense Report
Join The Conversation
What’s your experience working on a plane? What tips and strategies do you employ? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation by leaving a comment and don’t forget to follow us on social media including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
By the way, if you are interested in more travel tips and travel advice, you might be like these great articles:
- 147 Business Travel Tips – the ultimate list of road warrior tips & tricks
- How to get over jet lag while you travel – 11 Tips every traveler needs to know
- The 7 Habits of the Healthy Business Traveler: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business
- 11 Packing Tips Every Traveler Needs to Know