Take Flight: More Airtime Can Be Good for Your Career

From meditation to learning a new language, here’s some long haul flight tips on how to make the most of your time in the air

Put your time in the air to good use.


You know how business travel goes: Rush to wrap up outstanding projects at the office, rush to pack, rush to the airport, hustle on board the plane and then—you sit. It’s a classic case of hurry-up-and-wait, especially if your destination is on the other side of the country from your home office. At first it may be nice to sit still and chill out, but when you’re stuck in the same (not-always-comfortable) position for hours at a time, that moment of reprieve can quickly turn to boredom. Wondering what to do on a long flight? With these five long haul flight tips, you can use this gift of free time to further your own ambitions.


Take out a notepad and jot down a few goals for your trip. The act of taking pen to paper will help you focus on the things you want to achieve, and this can give you good footing once you’re off the plane. Once you finish that to-do list, try mapping out a few broader life goals and dreams to make happen over the next year. Psychologists and business moguls both agree this is a powerful tool for success.


The real trick here is being productive without making your flight feel like work. To that end, read some relevant nonfiction. Local history, for example, can be a conversation starter with new business contacts, so find a book about your destination’s past or one of its prominent citizens to finish on the plane.


Parlez-vous Klingon? Just kidding, but you could learn a real language during your flight. (Apps like Duolingo even let you do so for free.) Not only is it polite, but it’s also good business to speak the same language as international colleagues. That’s one reason many companies put a premium on multilingual applicants, making people who speak multiple languages more likely to be hired and better paid. On top of that, writes Lisa Chau in US News & World Report, “Bilinguals have more gray matter in the portion of the brain that is suspected to be associated with vocabulary acquisition.” Translation: learning another language makes you smarter and causes your brain to work more efficiently.


Consider how busy the modern professional is. Doesn’t a nap sound nice? If you can catch an hour or two of shut-eye on a plane, you’re doing more than just killing time—you’re improving your own productivity. According to many studies, if you’re properly rested, you’re also more focused, which improves your performance. Plus, as one scholarly paper points out, lousy productivity due to insufficient sleep can ultimately cost your employer money. You want sleep; your boss benefits if you sleep, so sleep on the plane, already!


If you have a hard time falling asleep on the go, try meditation—the time-tested practice of doing nothing. Just breathe, empty your mind (the best you can) and center yourself. If the idea sounds more hippy-dippy than effective, keep this in mind: Meditation increases your ability to resist distracting urges, which makes you more productive, according to the Harvard Business Review. You’ll make better workplace decisions if you’re in control of your impulses, and what better time to meditate than on a long flight?


Ready to travel? Plan your trip today.



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