All that time you spend waiting for your flight, sitting on the plane, and commuting to your hotel can be productive time instead of wasted time. You just need to develop a strategy and create the proper mindset. Here are some tips to help you stay productive while traveling.

Plan ahead. You may be geared up to empty your inbox, but if your laptop’s not charged, you aren’t going to make much headway. Be sure to download any documents you need before you leave in order to accomplish a task you’ve relegated to be completed en route. This eliminates the need for wifi or using your mobile hotspot.

A woman typing on a laptop, presumably staying productive while traveling.

Make sure your laptop battery is charged before you ever leave the house!

Use the time you have wisely. If you’re in a crowded gate or you have a limited amount of time, now is not the time to read through correspondence or memos that require your full attention. Choose some B-level items to check off your to-do list, like those articles you’ve meant to skim for the last six months, and you’ll actually be more effective than if you try to tackle something that requires serious time and concentration.

Determine to focus. Yes, distractions are hard to tune out, but if you put yourself in that mindset, you can do it. Soon, you’ll find they’re calling your flight and you have more things accomplished — and time flew by — because you were able to shut out the distractions.

Prioritize your tasks. Don’t force yourself to rely on slow Internet onboard or cramped work conditions when you could choose to do something that doesn’t require technology to complete. Use those two or three hours to delve into something that will benefit from you being free from the interruptions that a pinging phone can create. For example, load articles to read into your Flipboard or Evernote app, and read them when you’re on the plane.

Align the task with the mode of transportation. If you’re driving instead of flying, you can’t respond to emails or write a memo, but you can return multiple phone calls. Just be sure to know the laws for using mobile phones in the area you’re traveling. Some states require hands-free calling, while others don’t. And whatever you do, don’t text and drive.

Choose input over output. Sometimes you know you’re too tired to work, but you’re not too tired to listen. Download a book or podcast that can provide you with an opportunity to learn something, which will make you more prepared when you return to work.

Finally, know your limits. Sometimes getting a nap is a better use of time than trying to squeeze a few more minutes of work into your already full day. Giving your brain space to breathe is just as valuable as refueling your body. It’s okay to rest. It’ll even result in greater productivity upon your arrival.

How do you stay productive while traveling? Do you use that time to get work done, or to just unplug and get a mental break? Share your ideas with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Startup Stock Photos (Pexels, Creative Commons)