Inflight Productivity

productivityAs I sit on a plane from Sarasota back to New York City, I realized what better time to write about airplane productivity than when I’m sitting on a plane being productive!

Being a touring musician is one of the most amazing professions. If we are lucky enough to get to travel for our concerts, not only do we get a chance to share our love of music and the guitar with audiences worldwide, but we also get to see more of the world ourselves. However, being a traveling musician also comes with a lot of airports and long idle hours on the plane. Even for domestic flights, we can spend up to a full day in one sort of travel mode or another. So what’s the best way to spend your time while in between your home and your destination?

One of the wisest ways to spend our time on a plane is to visualize our repertoire. Some of you might use visualization as a technique to memorize and maintain music on regular bases. A plane ride is the perfect time and place to brush up on visualization of your concert repertoire. All you need for it is your mind and maybe closed eyes to avoid any visual distractions. A plane is usually a “quiet” place. I put “quiet” in quotations, because obviously there is the constant roar from the engines, but there isn’t any music playing, or any loud conversations you can hear, unless it’s in the row behind you. So it’s the perfect place to be left alone with your thoughts, close your eyes and go through your repertoire. If it’s your concert repertoire, you might not even need to pull out your music, because you’ll be going through pieces that hopefully you know very well. However, you can always have the music handy to check on any doubts. It’s a way you can “practice” without actually playing the guitar, and it’s a way of practicing that can be very beneficial to your upcoming performance.

If visualization doesn’t seem feasible on a particular flight, or you rather do something else, you can always use your flight catching up on the business part of a musician’s career. Almost all U.S. domestic flights have on board WiFi nowadays, which makes it very easy to use that time catching up on emails and leave more time at home to do actual practicing. While you are on a plane, you have nowhere to go and no opportunities for distractions, so it’s the perfect atmosphere to be as productive as possible. I actually end up accomplishing more on a flight than at home during the same time frame.

Of course in order to be able to do your work on a plane, you need to be prepared. I don’t like to travel with my laptop, so instead I prefer an iPad linked to a physical keyboard to make typing easier. If you don’t want to pay and connect to the on board WiFi, you might need to save your work to your device before heading to the airport, then you can work on it offline and upload when you’re at your hotel or at home. Sometimes the different setting in the airport can get your creative juices flowing and you might come up with great material for whatever it is you’re working on. Or if it’s concentration you need, the lack of anything else interesting on the plane will help by not allowing any distractions.

Sure, you can always sleep, or read, or do all sorts of generic things we do to pass time in flight, but we can also use that time in a way that would benefit our life as musicians and guitarists.

What are some of your favorite ways to spend the time while traveling?

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