Man optimising journey looking down aisle of plane

OK, so let’s be honest. Nobody really enjoys travelling more than they enjoy reaching their destination. The rigmarole of packing, checking (and most likely double and even triple-checking) your travel lists, finding transport and making it to the station/airport on time, the endless waiting around; none of it makes for a stress-free start to your travels.

But what if we started embracing the journey as the opportunity it really is? It stands to reason; you’re trapped in one place for an extended period of time, so you have no excuse for doing nothing. By using that time to catch up on tasks you would usually avoid you can keep your mind stimulated, pass the time and start your trip with a clean slate.

“Use your travel time productively to keep your brain stimulated and you’ll arrive at your destination with your wits about you.”

The growth in mobile devices and WiFi on commercial transport has made finding mid-journey distractions easier than ever. Of course, it’s always tempting to settle down with your headphones and a good book after boarding, but this isn’t always the best approach to your mental fitness, something you’re going to need when you reach your destination. By using your travel time productively and keeping your brain stimulated (albeit in reasonable doses), you’ll arrive at your destination with your wits about you. If you’re flying, keeping your brain stimulated can help you navigate the check-in process and reach your accommodation with a cool head.

A red train with in-journey wifi exiting a tunnel

Anxious traveller? Using your time in transit to finish tasks you’ve been putting off can distract from the myriad of worries that usually hound your thoughts. Worried you might have left the front door unlocked? There’s nothing you can do about that now, so why not bury your thoughts in organising your contacts, finishing off that presentation or clearing duplicate files? You don’t have to dedicate your travel time to work alone, however. You can use the time to update your CV, read up on new skills you want to learn or just go over your personal targets.

“Travel time doesn’t have to mean downtime.”

If you’re travelling on business, you’re probably looking to make the best impression on a prospective client. And while you’ve no doubt done plenty of research and prep ahead of time, some last minute groundwork could mean the difference between landing the sale or going home empty-handed. Optimising your travel time requires preparation. Spend time going over talking points for your meetings, do some research on your clients or just run through scenarios in your head. Remember, you can never be too prepared and you’ll be able to enjoy your leisure time more in the knowledge that you’re prepared for whatever they throw at you.

Bus with in-journey wifi turning in street at dusk

If you know you’ll be using transport that doesn’t have access to WiFi, try to prepare for the journey as much as possible in advance. Whether this means setting your mobile devices to function in offline mode, or just packing an extra notepad, you’ll be glad you did.

“Try to remove any reason you might have for ducking the work, even if it means switching to good ol’ pen and paper.”

It’s also vital that you make sure your devices are fully charged and meet the requirements for the type of travel you’re taking (you should probably leave that Galaxy Note 7 at home). In doing so, you can ensure your workflow goes uninterrupted and you reach your destination ready for anything.

Of course, travelling can be a tiring experience in itself. Make sure you have a game plan to avoid mentally exhausting yourself. Get your space ready for the work ahead and break tasks up into smaller times, with breaks to reward yourself with something less mentally challenging. By setting time limits for yourself on individual tasks, not only can you get a number of usually agonising tasks out the way in one go, you’ll be less focused on the remaining time in your journey.

Plane taking off with sun setting behind

Today there are all sorts of distractions to help pass the time on long-distance journeys, and it’s understandable that you want to reach your destination well-rested. But there are few other scenarios in which you have to sit in one place for an extended period of time outside of work. Finishing off work on your journey can be a nice last hurrah before a holiday starts or a great way to brush up on the essentials before a big business meeting.

So what’s your favourite way to pass the time when travelling long distance? Let us know in the comments below!

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