6 Ways to be Productive on a Wifi-Free Flight

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A cross-country or transatlantic flight without access to wifi is the perfect opportunity for a few hours of productivity. Granted, it’s also the perfect opportunity for a nap, but if you’re wired on coffee or without a window to rest your head against comfortably (and even then I use the word “comfortable” loosely), you might as well use that 6 hours of shooting through the sky in a metal tube at 35,000 feet up (aviation is a MIRACLE) to check off some boxes on your to-do list in your too-cute notebook agenda.

Below are 6 ways I try to take care of bidness when I am wifi-less on a flight, whether that’s because wifi isn’t offered or I don’t want to pay for it (‘cuz let’s be real, your girl’s on a budget.)

1. Clear out your phone.

You don’t need 27 photos from that time you and friends had an impromptu margarita-inspired photoshoot in front of that Mexican restaurant’s coral-colored brick wall. They all look pretty much the same, after all. If you can’t part with the pics, use this time to back them up to your computer, then get to work clearing out photo space on your phone.

Delete apps you rarely use, and clear out iMessage conversations that you don’t need to refer to anymore. Those convos sneakily fill up storage on your phone that could instead be used for photos of your upcoming trip (and this is me making the sweeping assumption that you are on a plane because you are vacation-bound).

2. Organize the files on your computer.

My computer’s files are the equivalent of a work desk strewn about with loose papers and file folders in deep need of organization. Use these Internet-free hours to spring clean the files on your computer, putting them in their appropriate folders and deleting documents that you no longer need. Your future self who is searching for a particular file will thank you for the time you spent organizing.

3. Draft emails.

Have some emails you know you need to send out? Use this time to carefully craft your drafts in a Word doc, then all that’s left is to hit send when you’re back in the world of accessible (and free) wifi. This is your opportunity to respond to those emails that have been waiting anxiously for your reply from a week ago that you haven't had the time for. Until now, that is, because you have another two hours before your initial descent begins and you're asked to stow electronics and put your tray table into the upright and locked position.

4. Write, if that’s your thing. Or read. Or both.

Flights are fertile ground (or air?) for pensive reflection for me, so I use this rare gift of inspiration to write before I’m grounded again and staring listlessly at the blank page with nary a word to write. If writing is your thing, use this time of limited distraction to begin that manuscript that you've been telling yourself you'd "one day" write. Today's the day, my friend.

Or just read instead. Maybe reading isn’t your idea of “productive,” but we spend so much of our lives on the ground bustling about, we rarely slow down enough to read the book sitting lonely on our shelves. Use this time of Facebook inaccessibility to read words that aren’t your old classmate’s political rants backed by an article that is clearly not factual, but instead, actual literature.

5. Write a letter.

Yes, an old-fashioned, pen-to-paper letter! Who doesn’t love receiving a handwritten letter? Answer: probably no one. So lower that tray table and pull out a card or paper and pen, and begin crafting a written letter to make the day of a friend or family member.

6. Learn a language.

Maybe not an obvious choice, but you can use your flight time to sharpen your language skills, like brushing up on the French you learned in college and then promptly forgot a semester later. Bonus points if you are actually bound for a non-English-speaking country, in which case your newfound language skills will assist you in asking a kind stranger where the restroom is. Duolingo, the language learning website and app, allows you to access a few of your language lessons on your phone app without wifi, but you’ll need to have previously set up an account and chosen a language with an Internet connection (and not all features are available without wifi). It appears that Rosetta Stone also offers offline learning, but I’ve never personally used it.

 May you met all your productive flight aspirations, friends!

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