Working at 30,000 Feet

Published Wednesday, May 12, 2010 9:41 AM

In the film Up in the Air, George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is obsessed with the elite status that comes with earning 10 million frequent flyer miles. While we might not aspire to be a Bingham, many of us can relate to his life as an airborne business traveler.

Up In The Air

In 2009, 48% of adults in the U.S. traveled by air for business purposes. If you were among them, you know that air travel can be challenging. As this New York Times article details: "Flights on domestic jetliners are fuller than ever, as the industry's fleet, shrunken from bankruptcies and other post-Sept. 11 travails, struggles to accommodate demand that grows with the economy." With all these challenges, it can be hard to get work done in flight. But, without much choice, we soldier on.

When I travel for business, I make sure to bring reading materials like business articles for power-down times like takeoff and landing. To take full advantage of the uninterrupted hours, I also take carry-on projects like document reviews that require my undivided attention. It helps to have a notepad, pen, calculator and paperclips handy. Here are some other tips for working aloft:

  • Prepare a task list before getting on the plane
  • Create a to-do folder on your laptop so you can easily get to the material you want to work on
  • Use headphones to block out interruptions if noise and constant movement in the aisles tend to distract you
  • Remember to pace yourself and take frequent get-up-and-stretch breaks

When it comes to using laptops in-flight, things are looking up now that some 500 domestic airliners offer wireless Internet access (usually for a fee). As a practical matter, if I am traveling coach and need to use my laptop, I try to get a seat in an exit row to avoid the perils of my front neighbor's reclining seatback. If you are traveling with your MacBook (and iPad) in tow, take a look at Guy Kawasaki's Ultimate Mac Road Warrior Setup. Additional tips can be found in the Road Warrior Toolbox supplied by small business marketing expert John Jantsch

How do you work at 30,000 feet? Let us know in the comments area here or via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Candie Harris


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