Five ways to make long flights more productive

Every business traveler has said or heard: “I’ll get to it on the plane.” By the time your bags are stowed safely overhead, however, it occurs to you that the flight won’t be long enough for everything on your list. The problem I’ve seen is that most business travelers don’t use this distraction-free environment as effectively as they could. If you could get more out of your flights, you’ll have more elbow room in your schedule when you touch down. So, here are five ways to help you get the biggest bang for your time on board.

1. The flight starts at the gate
While you’re waiting to board, find a power outlet, and plug in. pick up a wireless connection, and take care of e-mails. This seems obvious, but distractions can encroach. When you’re going through your inbox, focus on anything that seems most likely to matter when you’re on the plane: reassess your priorities. The unimportant can wait (or be addressed via Blackberry when you’re waiting for the door to close).

2. Get an extra battery
I’m still amazed at how many times I’ve seen business travelers shut down because the juice is gone. Ask your employer for an extra battery – you’ll have a few more hours of high-octane work time.

3. Print what doesn’t have to be electronic
This is especially true if you can’t score that extra battery. Do on paper what can be done on paper, and save the battery life for work that must be done on your laptop. You’re effectively increasing the value of your battery.

4. Set goals
Don’t try to deal with everything. Determine what you want to accomplish on the flight, and zero in on it. If you have time left over, you can work on other things (or, better, sleep). Be realistic when you define your objectives. If you aren’t, you’ll be perpetually frustrated.

5. Know when to stop
If you’re close to exhaustion or just can’t get your mind to work, take the hint. A plane isn’t the ideal office environment). Close your laptop. Put down your pen. Ask for some pill water, and let someone else suffer at your expense for a change!

Fear-free vacation, part II: look busy while you recharge

If you haven’t read the first 10 suggestions for looking busy without actually working on vacation, check out yesterday’s post. If you’ve already been there, let’s keep pushing ahead. We have even more for you today, thanks to the slothful talents of me and the rest of the Gadling team. Leave it to a group of bloggers to find so many ways to look hardcore without actually lifting a finger that it takes two days to get it all out. Many thanks, in particular, to Scott Carmichael, who looked like he was working overtime to show you how to look like you’re working overtime.

1. Conference calls make you look good
Try to attend a few conference calls while you’re on the road. Dial in, and put your phone on mute. Light up a cigar, pour a drink, or lounge on the beach with a book. At the beginning of the call, mention that you’re in a public place (because you’re on vacation) and can’t contribute too much because you don’t want to broadcast proprietary information.

2. Phone around the office
Randomly call people with whom you work about things you’d normally discuss with them. Don’t raise any heavy issues – stick to quick questions.


3. Pick the right background noise
If the person on the other end of the phone can hear the beach or the half-naked coed from whose taut stomach you’re about to lick some alcoholic concoction, you’re making a mistake. Turn off the jets for a second, and call from your in-room hot tub.

4. Instant message games
If the company uses an internal instant message system, be logged on as much as possible. When you leave your room, put up an “unavailable” message that doesn’t reflect your vacation. “Grabbing a quick bite” and “back in a few” are just vague enough.

5. Put social media to work for you
Do any of your coworkers follow you on Twitter? Pop an occasional update like “Just realized what this report needs!”

6. Craft an effective “out of office” message
Mention that you’ll be out – give a time zone but not necessarily a location – and mention that you’ll be checking e-mail and voicemail periodically. Provide details on how to reach you “in an emergency.”

Have you taken a look at yesterday’s post yet?