When traveling for business, having a long layover can give you more time to catch up on work, relax a bit, or even leave the airport and explore a new city. A short layover on the other hand can make people feel stressed and rushed. It often becomes synonymous with the feeling of having to hurry up and wait.

I've been traveling for many years now and I've found that a short layover, if used thoughtfully, can be perfect for productivity and surprisingly, reducing stress. If you plan ahead and use the time to initiate communication, it gives people the chance to respond as you continue on your journey. You can also use the time to work on solo projects without the distractions of the office.

To clarify, a short layover is usually less than two hours or so but can be as short as 30 minutes (or less if you've been delayed). Most of the time you have to switch planes but that is not always the case. If you do have to switch planes, the number one priority should be getting to your next departure gate.

There are a few other ways to maximize your time, not just for productivity, but also for personal wellness. Here are a few ways that you can manage your short layover like a seasoned business traveler.

1. Plan ahead.

Ask your flight attendant if they have information about where you will need to go once you land. They are often given information regarding how many passengers are moving on to other flights. However, they may not have the most recent information, therefore, it is wise to check the departure board once you land.

Also, I recommend downloading or at least glancing over a map of the airport you will be landing at. Sometimes the airline has maps in the magazines provided near your seat. Sign up for text and email alerts when you book your flight so you will be notified of the most current flight information.

Even if you have a bit of time before you need to board again, I cannot stress how important getting closer to your gate is, especially in unfamiliar airports. It's happened a few times that I thought I'd have plenty of time to get to my gate, only to find out it was much further than anticipated or even in another annex of the building. 

2. Sit as close to the front of the plane as possible.

If you are on a tight schedule, sitting close to the front of the plane to get out more quickly can be the reason you made your flight versus sitting in the back waiting for everyone to deplane and missing your flight. While you may have to pay extra to grab one of those coveted seats, it may be well worth it. If you have a travel credit card, you may be able to use your benefits or points/miles to get a free upgrade.

If I'm traveling for an event that I know will be busy, I find it worthwhile to upgrade my seat. Even though it's a few extra inches and space for comfort, I find myself more productive and ready to go once I arrive at my final destination. Plus, I ensure that I can store my carryon luggage since I often get to board ahead.

3. Use the time between your flights wisely.

I don't know if it's the adrenaline of getting to my gate on time or the knowledge that I don't have much time to take advantage of my phone and the WiFi but I find that I can be very productive during the short layover. It doesn't always work but I try to review and write out work while I'm in the air that way when I land, I can send it over for publication or for feedback. 

By the time I've landed at my next destination, other people have had a chance to review and I can answer any questions that have come in. I also find it to be a good time to get a lot of little things I've been meaning to do out of the way. Because the staff knows I'm traveling, I can use that time to focus on my work without interruptions.

4. Have a backup plan should your flight get delayed or canceled.

Should your schedule get interrupted, having a list of phone numbers and even company social media handles saved on your phone can help you get in contact with an agent quickly. It's also a good idea to know if your company has a policy or insurance for employees. Some credit cards also come with protections that can be helpful. 

Published on: May 30, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.