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7 Growth Hacks for Commuters

7 Growth Hacks for Commuters

Commuting could be physically and mentally tiring. I can see why you and many hate being stuck on a crowded train and in slow-moving traffic. Commuting seems like a massive waste of time, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A team from the University of the West of England suggests that multitasking can be beneficial for commuters: If you try to listen, read, brainstorm, and get things done while sitting on a train to work, you are likely to feel more worthwhile. You can also learn new things, improve your skills and grow.

Here are some tools and tips to help commuters grow while enjoying their daily travel more and more.

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1. Plan your day

Try to use your morning commute to plan the day. To-do list apps like Wunderlist and Any.do are free and can be synced across all your devices: phone, tablet, and laptop. You can sketch out your day, using your mobile phone on the train, then tick tasks off later while sitting in your office in front of your laptop. It sounds great, doesn’t it?

2. Get your dose of industry news

Keep yourself up-to-date with industry news on online magazines and blogs using Feedly. In case you want to avoid an eyestrain (or if you are driving), a tool using “text-to-speech” technology can help. Softwares like Panopreter read words, phrases, and articles, and convert them to audio files that you can listen to on the road. The technology enables multitasking and helps save time.

3. Listen to Educational Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to expand your knowledge base. You can find free podcasts on almost every topics on the planet: from language history to money management. Use free mobile apps like Podcasts (for iOS) and Stitcher (for Android) to subscribe to your favourite podcasts, and tune in for some education time during your commute.

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4. Learn a new language

Being bilingual or multilingual opens the door to many new opportunities, from getting a better job to making new friends. Why not learn a new language using your travelling time? Duolingo is a fun and effective tool for learning language on the go. Give it a try and maybe you can have a conversation with a stranger on the train in her own language. Another option is to listen to podcasts in the language you try to learn.

5. Brainstorm ideas

This might sound strange but taking public transport can be distraction-free. There are no colleagues knocking at your door for all sorts of question. Nobody would expect you to answer emails while you are supposedly travelling. You can just turn your data off, put your headphones on and keep your head down to brainstorm the next great idea. Don’t forget to take notes because “your mind is for having ideas, not holding them” (David Allen).

Evernote (free) is a great tool for jotting down thoughts and organising them into lists. You can also tag notes, attach links and upload photos. It’s easy to share your notes with others via emails, even if they don’t use the app themselves. The app also have a recording feature, especially for the ones who think and speak much faster than type.

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If you happen to hate transcribing or are simply too busy to do it, try Dragon Dictation – a free voice transcription app that turns your thoughts into written notes.

6. Enjoy a good book

Check out Audible, seriously! They offer 30-day free trial for new users. You can also choose a free book in 180,000 audio titles. Besides, some narrators are so good that they give new life to the story.

If you prefer reading, bring a paper book with you at all times. Want to travel light? Then get a Kindle or even a Kindle app for your smart phone (iOS version vs. Android version).

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7. Play games to train your brain

It is the end of the day and you travel back home after a long day at work. I can understand if you don’t want to read any more news and if you feel too tired to learn new words or phrases in a foreign language. However, sitting still and doing nothing might just be the way to give yourself up to complete tiresomeness. Try to keep your brain active with mind-engaging, fun games from Lumosity.

I hope these tips will help you be more productive and grow with your commute. However, don’t force yourself to be on all the time. It is just not possible. Let yourself have some off days when you can sit back, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

Featured photo credit: Eutah Mizushima via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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