9 Keys to Staying Productive at the Airport

With Thanksgiving just days away, many of us will be flying back home to enjoy family, feasting, and some much needed rest from the last few grueling weeks of work.

Before you cut the cord and proceed to the airport without your work devices, use that boring downtime waiting through plane delays to complete a few last-minute tasks, so you can completely relax during the holiday.

Not sure how to focus in such a hectic environment? Read on for our best practices on working while in an airport.

I. Your Airport Kit

Pack All Your Gear: Your phone charger, your laptop and power cord, all necessary cables and external drives, plus analog stuff. And always bring your own power strip. It makes life easier when battling strangers over the limited number of outlets; it's also a great way to instantly make new friends.

Set Your Playlist: Along with the gear, prepare your playlists on your mobile device. Load up the podcasts you want to listen to or the music you'll need as background for working. Don't assume your WiFi connection will be reliable.

Bring the Cans: Make sure you bring along a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. This will probably be the only way you can override the noise in airports and on the plane. It's also your best solution to help you get into the flow.

II. How to Work While You Wait for Your Flight

Arrive Early: The first trick for getting in the right frame of mind for last-minute productivity in the airport is to arrive a little bit earlier and get through the check-in lines before they burst with everyone's pent-up holiday entitlement and (sometimes) rage.

Find a Home Base: Once that's done, find a good spot as your home base. You might be familiar enough with the airport to know where to settle down. But if not, use Foursquare to get crowd-sourced recommendations for places to work near electrical outlets. The ideal places are airport restaurants, airport lounges, sometimes even a chapel if there is one. The absolute worst place to work is the boarding area where the noisy, swelling crowd will distract you faster than you can load Facebook.

Use Airport Lounge 1-Day Passes: If you're already someone who frequent these hallowed areas, proceed to the next section. If you aren't, it may be good to know that some airport lounges offer one-day passes which give you: free WiFi, snacks, and even have complimentary drinks. Most importantly, these spaces are relatively comfy, quiet, and electrical outlets abound.

Focus on the Busywork: Working at the airport may not be the best place to do high-level problem solving or brain-heavy creation. Depending on how long you have, this might be the perfect time to clear out your email inbox, organize the files on your downloads folder or desktop, even organize your notes in Wrike.

Brainstorm Ideas on a Notebook: Layovers can also be a time to think over ideas for projects you want to work on in the next six months — whether these are personal or work projects.

Get Some Exercise: In the absence of any motivation to get work done, you can still keep yourself from vegetating in the boarding area by walking around. Get some exercise. Do some pushups or crunches. Just stay away from the candy shop.

More Road Warrior Tools and Tips

If you're constantly traveling for work, then you should check out our recommendations for travel gear and travel tips.

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