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How to make the most of that airplane flight

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY Sitting on an airplane is no one's idea of a good time. Even business class isn't as comfortable as your couch, and being stuck in the middle seat for anything longer than two hours is cruel (although not unusual) punishment.

But if you lead a busy life, one where you feel like you're constantly fielding queries for this and that, a little travel can actually be a gift. You can get things done on a plane that are tough to do anywhere else. Your best bet is to skip the movie and spend the hours doing these things:

During taxi, take-off and landing: Bring along a really good book or a magazine you never have the time for otherwise. I don't think I would have read that 8,000-word article in The New Yorker on Siberia if not for being stuck behind 10 other planes waiting on the tarmac. You say you never have time to read. Now you do.

At cruising altitude: A few days before your trip, think through a project that will require some serious focus. Maybe it's editing a document. Maybe it's writing a document. Gather any information you'll need and read through it beforehand (maybe while you're waiting at the gate). Then, once you can use electronic devices, you can pull out your laptop and get down to business. The beautiful thing about the plane ride is that no one can interrupt you. No phone calls, and wireless is still a relatively rare thing. So you can focus without getting lost in your inbox.

At meal time (if there is one): OK, watch TV for a bit. It's hard to do much else. But a three-hour window with no family or immediate work responsibilities weighing on you is too precious to lose to bad re-runs and a movie you saw a year ago. You can watch those in your hotel room at night.

What do you do during flights?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user lilmsmrtas
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