As a sales representative, nothing beats getting face to face with a client and hammering out their needs and how you plan to fulfill them. But this also means that in between client meetings, you can end up spending an awful lot of time traveling.

Once upon a time, you simply couldn't be very productive while traveling because you were limited to reading whatever paperwork you could fit in a briefcase. That’s completely changed, thanks to the advent of decent laptops, the increasing availability of power on airplanes, plus in-flight Wi-Fi.

If you don't work when you fly, it's usually by choice, which is fine if you’re exhausted and really need the rest. Otherwise, you're wasting an excellent opportunity to stay ahead of the game.

Always bring along a light, stripped-down laptop or tablet that contains only the programs you need to do your work. Make certain you have charging cords as well. You can even store a small bag full of extra cords in your carry-on bag permanently. I keep a duplicate set of everything in my briefcase, so I don’t have to remember to unplug and pack anything.

You spend a fair amount of time in airports, so take advantage of any amenities they offer. If your favorite airline has a VIP lounge for frequent fliers, such as United’s United Club, a membership will cost you a few hundred dollars a year, but it's worth the cost if you travel a lot. In some cases, you can trade frequent flier miles for a VIP membership.

You'll have access to Wi-Fi, charging outlets, drinks and snacks, and perhaps most importantly, (relative) peace and quiet (even though they are crowded lately). Better the tappity-tap of fellow travelers' keyboards than the wailing of children or the background rumble of airplanes coming and going.

Whatever you do, spend some of your downtime charging your electronics, so you have the longest possible battery life while in the air. Running out of juice halfway through a five-hour flight may doom you to boredom for the rest of the trip, not to mention it’s counterproductive. Many large airliners have outlets, but they don't always charge your laptop properly. If there is Wi-Fi available, buy it. The $10 cost is worth the additional productivity boost from being able to send and receive email and access any webpages you need.

You can also use your frequent flier miles to upgrade from coach or business to first class. I bought up to first class recently for $99, so it’s often affordable. This will give you plenty of room to spread out.

If you're flying in crowded conditions in economy class, ask for an aisle seat so you'll have the elbow room you require. An iPad or similar high-power tablet may prove your salvation if you don’t get upgraded, so your poor screen won’t snap when the person in front of you puts the seat back.

Did you know the oxygen levels in airplanes tend to be lower than you're used to? In combination with the low humidity and ambient noise, you may find it more difficult to concentrate on your work. So don't make any big decisions or work on long-term strategy. Instead, read, fill out paperwork, get organized, write or reply to emails, and do other important but relatively minor tasks. Noise-reducing earphones are a must, if only to alleviate the drone of the engines.

On a particularly long flight, there's no shame in taking breaks; you may need to in order to recharge your creativity. So take a short nap or read a pleasure magazine, just for fun. Then get cracking.

Why work when away from home? Bottom line, I spend every available moment working because I want to spend time with my family when I get back. I work in the Uber on the way to the airport, in the club at the airport, while in flight, on the way to the hotel, at the hotel, and in reverse as I travel home. My breaks are brief, and I get a lot done, rarely falling behind. My reward is that I don’t have anything hanging over my head when I land at home, and I am present to fully enjoy my family and personal time.

You may not have the same motivators I do, so you may not feel the need to spend every minute you're not entertaining or meeting with clients on your work tasks. But it's a great way to make sure you keep everything up to date and don't have to play catch-up when you return home. Give it a try if you haven't already, and you'll marvel at the amount of work you'll get done.

If you don't work when you fly, it's usually by choice. Otherwise, you're wasting an excellent opportunity to stay ahead of the game.”

Laura Stack | President & CEO, The Productivity Pro Inc., and Author, "Doing the Right Things Right"
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