Up in The Air: Five Productive Things Business Travelers Can Do On An Airplane With or Without Wifi
Life on the road as a business traveler is filled with a ton of fun, Instagram-worthy moments but there is a ton of downtime that we road warriors rarely talk about. I can remember waiting in the Tampa airport last year, getting steps in on my Fitbit while nervously awaiting the chance to board my plane home before a massive thunderstorm struck. I had to have hit 20,000 steps that day and I got on the plane feeling pretty good about the fact that I got a mini-workout in no matter where I was. Thankfully, I made it home that night after only a few minor delays but the extra time in the airport enforced a valuable lesson that I want to share with you today: Time waits for no one, so make the most of it.
In honor of my latest business trip - flying on the first-ever Southwest Airlines flight from Baltimore (BWI) to Cincinnati (CVG) - I want to share some flight-centric tips for maximizing productivity while on an airplane. These are tips I personally use and I'm confident they'll add value to your life too.
Catch up on the latest news and trends in your industry.
Throughout the course of my week day, I rarely have time to read in-depth articles but things catch my eye from time to time that I want to dig into when I get a chance. My hack is that I use Evernote (my go-to note taking tool for EVERYTHING) and I save articles and blogs either from my web browser or while on my phone. There's a tool called Evernote Web Clipper that lets you clip sections of a webpage or full articles. Once an article is saved, I can read it on my iPad Pro without even needing wifi! Perfect for quick flights without wifi or if you want to keep reading on airplane mode.
Build connections through networking.
If I told you that I landed a client while up in the air, I'd be lying - but I was pretty close! I was flying home from San Jose (on Southwest of course) and met a woman who was a nurse from Connecticut. She was in the process of starting her own home care business but spent years working with Veterans as a nurse in the VA Health System. Since my dad is a Vet, we struck up conversation and she was sharing a ton of helpful tips about access to health care and benefits that I jotted down in Evernote and sent to my dad as soon as I landed. I could tell she was really passionate about the people she served and it was pretty cool to hear her story for a few hours until we parted ways in Chicago. Even though we don't keep in touch, that one conversation enriched the quality of my relationship with my dad and it helped him navigate the VA Health System which can be tricky some times. I share this story with you to say that you never know who you're sitting beside, who you can help, and who can help you. This woman didn't become a client for me but she was like an angel - and I'm grateful that we spoke up!
Get one-on-one time with thought leaders through podcasts.
The brilliant thing I love about podcasts - and why I started my own podcast - is the portability and potency of information. Podcasts are unfiltered conversations with and between thought leaders, world changers, how-to experts, and people you want to get to know. In the podcast above, I spent 34 minutes with my good friend Ashley Graham and we talked about life as a high profile model, entrepreneurship, and how she stays centered and focused in the midst of her grind. You can also check out her new book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like on Amazon and where ever books are sold.
Clear out mental space in your brain through a journal brain dump.
There's a lot to be said for keeping things close by in your phone and iPad but it's good to just write stuff out and do a brain dump some times. For flights over 2 hours, I usually get a chance to bring a journal along and map out new business ideas, mind maps, goals I want to accomplish, and blog ideas that need some fleshing out. There's actually science behind the benefit of writing things down, too. According to a recent article on Shopify's blog, the Association of Psychological Science reported that students who physically took notes received a memory boost – particularly when compared to those who took notes via a laptop. If you want to really see something stick, write it down!
Become more self-aware after powering through a good self-help book.
Some of the most pivotal moments in my life have been around reading a good book. You'll usually see me on a plane with headphones in, listening to Audible, and pausing every so often to jot notes and reflect. One of the more impactful books that I recently read (for the second time) is Robert Greene's Mastery.
Here's a quick description of the book:
"In Mastery, Robert Greene's fifth book, he mines the biographies of great historical figures for clues about gaining control over our own lives and destinies."
It's through these stories that I get a sense for where I am in my personal career journey and what ways I need to connect with mentors, grow in skills, and course-correct. I'd encourage you to pick up a book the next time you fly and use that time to reflect on how you can grow to be a better person and professional.
Do you have tips to stay productive while on business travel? Share in the comments!