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Here are some carefully-curated tips and advice for staying productive aboard a flight to ensure an enjoyable flight experience.
Don’t know what to do? Do some last-minute research
Sometimes we feel that we should be doing something productive, yet what exactly that means eludes us. If you’ve nothing better to do, why not try something that will make the most of your trip? Perhaps learn some key phrases and words in your destination’s local tongue, or study up on the places you want to see, foods you want to eat, and the history, culture, traditions, and customs of the people and place you’re visiting.
On a flight, you’ve got nothing if you haven’t got time. You could sleep, but if you’re feeling restless and want to do something productive, consider knocking out some tasks that you’ve been procrastinating on. Perhaps you’ve neglected your journal entries, or maybe you need to balance your checkbook. Whatever chore you have, get it done on the plane, and it will leave you feeling accomplished and content once you arrive.
Use the discomfort to your advantage
If plane seats had to be described, the first idea that would come to mind would be how uncomfortable it is. This might be bad if you’re trying to sleep, but use it to your advantage when flying and trying to get some work done. The short angle of recline forces you to sit somewhat upright, which is helpful when trying to work. It’s hard to lean or slouch, and getting up often is not going to happen, and all these factors provide an excellent foundation for focusing on work.
Bring a USB cable
Your laptop battery might not last the entirety of the flight, and the plane may not have power outlets available. In that case, your productivity might reach an untimely end, but it doesn’t have to. Bring a USB cable in your carry-on belongings for your phone, tablet, and/or music device. Even if power outlets aren’t available, there is often a USB jack, especially when the seatback entertainment devices are present. You can keep your smartphone and tablet charged, while continuing your work on these devices after power has expired on your laptop.
Hide your sensitive data
During a flight, your laptop screen is not only visible to the person or people next to you, but also the people walking up and down the aisle and the people behind you diagonally. Someone’s gonna see your screen. Try not to do anything too sensitive aboard a flight, such as read confidential emails. If you are hesitant to work because of your proximity to other eyes, consider a privacy filter on your screen; these are screen films you can buy to place right over your laptop or tablet screen to block anybody from seeing what’s on your screen who isn’t directly in front of it (and that’s you).
Stay vigilant when getting up
We settle into airplane seats and often develop a sense of security that we don’t normally have. For example, I tend to leave my laptop and phone and music player on my seat when I go to the restroom, because who would take it? Everyone is there watching and in close proximity, and where would they run to? But maybe it’s better to just stay on the safe side anyway, just in case. At least fold your laptop and temporarily stick these gadgets in the seatback pocket, and take your phone with you – because better safe than sorry, right?
Have a pen handy
It’s a good idea to bring a pen, especially when flying internationally. You’ll need it to fill out customs and entry paperwork, so it is one of the most productive things you can do to get it over with while you’re on the plane, rather than having to pull to the side when you get off to find a pen and fill it out then. Also, flight attendants tend to have pens, but so many people forget theirs that there’s often not enough to go around. Be proactive and bring you own.
Sometimes you want to be productive, yet taking out the computer is too much work, or maybe the wireless internet onboard is nonexistent or expensive. Use the time instead to catch up on reading. Reading may sound like a more leisurely thing to do rather than productive, but it keeps your mind sharp, allowing you to be more productive when you do get the chance later to try.
Clear your camera
Flying is a good time to do some housekeeping on your camera’s memory card. You can use the time to download all the previous photos onto your hard drive, while simultaneously clearing out space for the trip ahead. Also, this is one task that you can do without the need of internet, which may not be available or may be billed at an exorbitant rate.
Clean up your phone
With all this free time on your hands, the flight is a prime opportunity to clean out your mobile, as well. Clear the cache, download some photos onto your laptop’s hard drive, clean up your contacts. Oh, and since you have your phone out, it’s also a great time to get it ready for use at your destination. Perhaps set the time and settings to sync with your destination, or turn off your data so you won’t be surprised with a crazy bill when you get home.
This goes against some advice I gave in the hygiene section of these flight tips, but caffeine is a surefire way to stay alert and productive, allowing you to focus and concentrate. However, be mindful of its downsides, such as your inability perhaps to sleep afterwards and its dehydrating effects.
Hear your books
You may want to be productive by using your flight time to get some reading done, but you may suffer from dizziness or nausea while reading on a pitching and rolling vehicle such as this. Consider downloading the audiobook version of the book you intended to read as an agreeable alternative. And alternatively, you can download software onto your ebook reader which can read the text to you, turning any ebooks and other documents into audiobooks essentially.
Particularly on the return flight, it’s a good time to reflect on your trip and write about it in your diary or journal. Perhaps once you get home you would be too jet lagged to feel up to that task, and by the time the jet lag subsides, the memories of your trip won’t be as fresh and easily recalled.