Gobblegeddon and The Importance of Double Checking

Time Management Double CheckDouble checking plans and arrangements always seems like a hassle…until it averts a time wasting disaster! This week, I learned an essential lesson about the importance of double-checking and why two minutes of forethought can save hours of time later. To chuckle at my little calamity, and hopefully prevent this from happening to you, read on…

A Red Eye Gone Wrong

One of the cool things about writing a time management blog is that when crappy things happen to you, the silver lining is always, “Well, at least I’ll get a blog out of it!” That was my first thought after what will henceforth be known as the Great Thanksgiving Travel Debacle of 2013.

Let me preface this story with the fact that my husband and I travel a lot. We know exactly how long it will take to get through security at various times of the day and make a sport out of trying to get an “A” boarding pass on Southwest without paying for early check in. I am usually the queen of double-checking everything when it comes to travel….until this week.

We were booked on a United red eye flight to Florida. We weren’t checking bags, we were busy getting last minute holiday things taken care of, so we didn’t bother to check-in online and print our boarding passes like we usually do. When we arrived at the ticket counter in plenty of time to make the flight, we heard the 5 words no air traveler ever wants to hear…

“That flight just took off.”

What?!?! Apparently, amidst the multiple schedule changes this flight had suffered, we hadn’t seen the email about it being moved up by an hour. Minor details. After several hours of trying to rebook and begging for a standby seat, we finally secured seats on the first flight out in the morning.

Should Have Double Checked…

This left me plenty of time to think about the importance of double checking as I tried to sleep across three chairs and an end table curled up in the terminal with a few other stranded travelers between the hours of 1:00am and 5:00am.

Double-checking always seems so obvious after the fact. It’s not until after something goes wrong that we think, “Really? I didn’t have 2 minutes to spare to ensure that this didn’t happen?”

When people heard of our flight woes, their first assumption was that we got caught up in the huge winter storm that week (affectionately dubbed “Gobblegeddon” by some media outlets.) Nope. This was all 100% preventable.

As we head into one of the most hectic months of the year, remember to take the extra minute and double check your plans before walking out the door. That little extra caution can save you loads of headache later.

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Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

7 Ways to Make Flight Time Fly By

Time Management AirplaneIf you travel frequently, you lose hours of valuable time sitting in a cramped airplane seat dreading the pile of work awaiting you at home. It can be difficult to either sleep or be productive with the limited room and resources available, especially if you didn’t think about how long the flight would be until you buckled your seat belt (2 hours sounds like a much shorter time when you are surrounded by all the comforts of home.) Try these 7 tips to make the most of your flying time. You’ll be on the ground before you know it.

1. Sketch It Out

Use your air time as an excuse to unplug and put pen to paper to outline a new project. When we’re surrounded by technology at home, it can be difficult to take our eyes off of our screens. Sometimes the freedom of a pen and a blank piece of paper can get your creative ideas flowing.

2. Charge It Up

If you do want to use your laptop or tablet while inflight, there is nothing worse than getting on the plane and realizing you forgot to charge it. Don’t forget to charge your devices, and then turn off WiFi and dim the screen to save battery.

3. Pre-write Emails

Rather than lamenting the fact that you don’t have WiFi on your plane, why not use the time to craft a few lengthy emails you’ve been putting off? Then all you’ll have to do when you land is copy, paste, and push send.

4. Read

You no doubt already have a book in your bag or on your Kindle, but what about those proposals and trade journals in a heap on your desk? Everyone has that office pile of things we want to read, but never get around to. Throw a few in your bag before you leave and finally cross them off your list.

5. Organize Your Desktop

You might not be able to clean your physical desk while in-flight, but you can certainly clean your digital one! Use your flight as an excuse to delete old downloads, clean up your files, and remove old programs you no longer use.

6. Thank You Notes

An old-fashioned, hand-written Thank You Note will never go out of style. Expressing our gratitude takes only a few minutes, but somehow we don’t get around to this small task as often as we should. Next time you need to fly, grab a few note cards before you leave and write a few letters to those who have helped you recently.

7. Network

Planes are a great place to talk to people you might not otherwise have occasion to meet. Ask the person next to you where they are headed and what they do. You’d be surprised who you might end up talking to!

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Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

Passing vs Spending Time

Usually, I am a huge advocate of finding ways to spend time, not pass time. When you are spending time you are looking for meaningful and purposeful ways to use your precious hours. When you are passing time, you’re just looking for ways to fill your day. Spending time leads to productivity or enjoyment. Passing time leads to….minutes ticking by on the clock.

However, during my flight to Florida last week, I realized that there are some situations when you do want to simply “pass time” in an effort to make it go by as fast as possible. Our 5-hour flight in to Orlando was one of those instances.

In this case, I was so excited to touch down at our destination and get out of my airline-seat prison that I was simply looking to pass the time as quickly as possible. (Coach airline travel is never particularly comfortable, and when you’re 6-feet tall it’s especially tight.)

This experience reminded me that finding things to do that pass the time quickly isn’t always easy. Here are a few tips:

 1) Keep it enjoyable

At first I tried to be productive on the plane, but that wasn’t working. The work I needed to do was un-enjoyable and made the time pass ridiculously slowly. If you want to make time pass quickly, do something you enjoy such as reading a book or listening to music. The phrase “time flies when you’re having fun” is cliché for a reason.

 2) Make it interactive

If you can make your enjoyable task interactive, such as doing a puzzle or playing a game, that’s even better. I like to see how quickly I can finish the crossword puzzle in the back of the in-flight magazine. Doing a puzzle like this keeps your brain engaged and makes the minutes fly by.

 3) Don’t look at your watch

If you’re trying to pass time quickly, resist the temptation to look at your watch. Doing so just reminds you how much time you have left to go. I like to just take mine off and put it in my pocket.

What is your favorite way to pass the time quickly? Please share!

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Photo Credit: Salvatore Vuono